The Most Underrated Phoenix Suns X-Factor for the 2022 NBA Playoffs

Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul, Aaron Holiday. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul, Aaron Holiday. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

After joining the Phoenix Suns, Aaron Holiday found new life in the league as a hot fuse off the bench for the best team in the NBA. He was a spark which James Jones stumbled upon before the trade deadline. A spark that played vital minutes during Chris Paul and Cameron Payne’s absences.

Now, he’s a spark that will need to continue burning throughout the playoffs.

Holiday has yet to compete with a true contender in the postseason thus far during his four-year career, but that all promises to change on Sunday, with him looking to bring a consistent offensive punch as a reserve player when Phoenix takes on the New Orleans Pelicans.

That punch, which he’s been able to provide almost all season, first came as a surprise for many Suns fans considering how the team only gave up cash considerations for him. The deal quietly took place in a chaotic frenzy of trades around the league, but Holiday was a perfect pickup for the backcourt.

Just Holiday’s presence as an insurance option behind Payne and Paul proved to be his most important attribute, especially after the injury bug came for those two guys in late winter. Phoenix needed a guard able to create his own shot and handle the rock just like Payne and Paul, as Elfrid Payton was not cutting it.

Not only did this trade work out for the Suns, but it was a move that had Holiday energized from the jump.

“I was excited, honestly,” said Holiday after his first practice with Phoenix. “My GM called me and told me they were trading me to the Suns. It is a great opportunity. It’s like everyone is having fun playing basketball and that’s something I want to be a part of.”

If Holiday does well under the postseason’s bright lights, he might be able to stay a part of this team for even longer being eligible for a rookie extension this summer. He comes from the 2018 NBA Draft class, just like fellow Suns Landry Shamet, Mikal Bridges, and Deandre Ayton. The Suns actually targeted Holiday back during that draft before Bridges fell to them at No. 10.

After coming to the desert, Holiday averaged 6.8 points and 3.4 assists per game, while shooting 44.0 percent from three, all while playing just 16 minutes per game. These resemble considerably solid numbers for a player who joined the team more than halfway through the season.

In his debut against the Orlando Magic, Holiday scored 10 points in just nine minutes, putting his sparkplug talents on full display. He followed that first game with seven more double-figure affairs off the bench, including a 16-point, seven assist, and six rebound performance vs the Los Angeles Clippers.

For Holiday and Suns fans, it’s all going to be about maintaining that effectiveness in the playoffs.

Holiday’s scoring and play making abilities emerged in several games already, and with a leader like Paul mentoring the young buck, he could not be in a better position to learn how to work as an efficient playoff point guard in Monty Williams’s system.

Not only is the mentorship coming from Paul, but it’s guaranteed Holiday has also learned a thing or two from his two older brothers in the NBA, Jrue and Justin.

Mixing all of the valuable knowledge he gains from the veterans mentioned, along with his ability to score, play make, and sustain an energetic style, Holiday becomes just the right piece off the bench in the backcourt for playoff basketball.

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Holiday, who led the Pac-12 in scoring in 2018, has always had promise and the Suns are starting to see that come into fruition. Now, the playoffs give him the opportunity to emerge into that next X-factor the Suns need to win their first NBA Championship.