JaVale McGee Rotation Spot in Trouble with Phoenix Suns?

Phoenix Suns, JaVale McGee (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, JaVale McGee (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

If you were to walk down East Jefferson Street on a Saturday night and ask a few Phoenix Suns fans which offseason acquisition has impressed them the most this year, their likely answer would be none other than high-flyer JaVale McGee.

Granted, lackluster starts to the season for Landry Shamet and Elfrid Payton chop down his competition quite a bit, but regardless, McGee has been nothing short excellent this season, averaging 10.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 65.4 percent from the field.

But now, his rotation spot looks jeopardized.

After first agreeing to a hardship deal, the Suns eventually signed veteran big Bismack Biyombo to a full contract earlier this month, asking him to backup starting center Deandre Ayton and the surging McGee. Across his eight games played, Biyombo averaged 10.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 70.2 percent from the field.

The 11-year pro even entered triple-double watch last night, putting up 21 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. Biyombo also added two blocks and a steal to go with that performance, shooting 9-12 on field goals as well.

With Biyombo’s efforts having far exceeded that of your typical third string big, he finds the minutes typically fielded by McGee trickling down to him.

McGee still assumed Ayton’s position as the starter during Phoenix’s past three contests, and feels likely to continue doing so given his longer standing presence on the team. But in those games, Biyombo eventually became the more featured center, going on to average 27.4 minutes per game to McGee’s 19.8 minutes per game.

Those numbers compared to the last time Ayton went out reflect a 3.0 minute per game decrease for McGee, while Biyombo’s run time has increased by 7.2 minutes per game.

More importantly though, Monty Williams decided to roll with Biyombo down the stretch during Phoenix’s last two games against the Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers rather than McGee. Both contests became close down the stretch, and even with Biyombo possessing far fewer games under his belt as a Sun, he still got the nod.

It remains to be seen whether or not Williams plans to continue with this method or how he might adjust it when Ayton returns, but at this point, one can no longer ignore his preference toward Biyombo.

However, this decision might work to the team’s advantage in the long run, as most Monty-moves end up doing.

Former Coach with Kind Words for Bismack Biyombo. dark. Next

Having excelled during spurts on the court, but struggled significantly this year under long stretches, cutting down some minutes for McGee could allow the Suns to get only the best out of him, which obviously bodes well for the team as they move forward without Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric for the foreseeable future.