Phoenix Suns: Torrey Craig Reveals Denver Nuggets Tendencies, Ideas

Phoenix Suns, Torrey Craig (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Torrey Craig (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Before joining the Phoenix Suns, Torrey Craig bounced around quite a bit, even playing several years across the globe for the NBL, where rookie phenom LaMelo Ball and Sixth Man of the Year finalist Joe Ingles got their starts. But Craig’s most distinguished stop throughout his career came with his first NBA team, who just so happens to be competing against him in the playoffs right now: the Denver Nuggets.

Although he spent some time with their G-League affiliate during his first season, Craig ran with Denver from 2017-2020. Often operating as a spark-plug off the bench, Craig played 18.2 minutes per game, averaging 5.3 points and 3.4 rebounds as a Nugget. He also added some playoff experience to his resume, averaging 19.7 minutes per game during Denver’s incredible postseason run last year, when they came back from down 3-1 twice.

But despite his effectiveness as a “glue guy” for the Nuggets, their front office failed to make Craig a qualifying offer during the following offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent. Craig then signed with the Milwaukee Bucks, but rarely played. The Suns eventually exchanged cash considerations for him roughly halfway through this year’s regular season, and the rest is history.

Now playing a role for Phoenix similar to his while with the Nuggets, Craig adds depth to this widely talented roster, scoring 7.2 points, and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 50.3 percent from the field. He too serves as an always appreciated wing-stopper thanks to his lateral quickness and 6’7 stature, even blanketing the great LeBron James from time to time during round one.

Going against Denver, Craig scored nine points during the first affair, and then 10 during the second, with both ending as blowout victories for Phoenix. Shooting 42.9 percent from outside as well, Craig continues to help stretch the floor for his team, a factor which has significantly helped the Suns offense flow lately.

But Craig’s usefulness for Phoenix persists beyond his play alone though, with him contributing significantly from a strategical standpoint as well. Still remembering Denver’s schemes and designs from his time with the team, Craig reportedly continues to offer up advice focused on how to best combat the Nuggets.

It remains unknown exactly how much Craig’s input has influenced the series thus far, but we do know that the Suns own a 2-0 lead, and have outscored the Nuggets by 42 points. A two-game set for the Suns in Denver tips off tonight, with the Suns likely pondering a sweep as a result.

Michael Porter Jr. specifically noted the inside information which Craig carries, referring to their ongoing friendship as well as their previous workouts together before the series began. Porter Jr. averages 13.0 points per game this series against Craig and the Suns, with .346/.294/.750 shooting splits. Although currently nursing a back injury, those numbers nonetheless look dwarfed compared to his stats during his previous series against the Portland Trail Blazers, where he averaged 18.8 points per game with .537/.415/.909 shooting splits.

Craig’s signature moment so far against the Nuggets came during Game 1, when he soared to the basket for an alley-oop dunk, connecting with teammate Cameron Payne. The play set Phoenix Suns Arena ablaze, and the team never looked back. He too excited the Suns faithful the following game though, chasing down Monte Morris to block his shot and set up a Dario Saric 3-pointer moments later.

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Looking at things from all fronts, Craig really resembles a secret weapon for the Suns to dispose against the Nuggets over and over again. He might not start, or even play big minutes during close contests, but he remains more valuable right now than perhaps at any other point in his career.