3 Phoenix Suns Unsung Heroes Stepping Up with Chris Paul Injured

Phoenix Suns, Landry Shamet, Jae Crowder. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Landry Shamet, Jae Crowder. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /
4 of 4
Phoenix Suns, Jae Crowder
Phoenix Suns, Jae Crowder. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Phoenix Suns Unsung Heroes Post All-Star Break: Jae Crowder

Star power serves as the foundation for most championship teams, so when the Suns went to the NBA Finals last year, it should have surprised no one that the dominating narrative was Chris Paul shepherding this group of talented, but unproven studs to the promised land.

But Phoenix fans know that Paul is not the only presence on the floor that brings a calming and rugged professionalism to this team.

Having an all-time great floor general is a luxury, but a team also needs role players, guys that can accept their lesser role when playing with stars and step up their level when said stars are unavailable.

Jae Crowder represents the ultimate glue guy for the Suns. When starting next to the fully healthy Phoenix roster, he provides clutch shooting, tough defense, and high level basketball IQ. But over this Chris Paul-less stretch of games, he upped his game beyond those areas, providing his team with some much needed playmaking.

Over the past eight contests, Crowder averaged 3.0 assists per game—almost double his season average of 1.4 per game. He understands the assignment. With no CP3, the team needs other players to help set up other guys, and Crowder clearly accepted that responsibility.

Crowder’s 3-point shot shot has been inconsistent over the past eight games, but with that, he has only further illustrated how versatile he is with his abilities to help out this team. Although Crowder shot 4-8 against both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Utah Jazz, he put up a 1-10 performance on March 8th against the Orlando Magic. He also followed that up with a 1-7 performance against the Miami Heat.

With his long range shots not falling like they normally do, Crowder made a conscious effort to find other ways to help out offensively. He still finds himself averaging 13.9 points per contest over the past eight games—more than three points higher than his regular season figure.

Next. 3 Teams the Suns Want to Avoid in the First Round. dark

Even with his up and down shooting, Crowder knows how to increase his offensive output. In my estimation, his new floater has been key in this. But regardless, the points are there, as are the assists—as Crowder just keeps finding ways to patch up holes for this wounded team.