Phoenix Suns Need to Make this Starting Lineup Tweak For Next Season

Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Some major questions currently await the Phoenix Suns as they brace for the 2022 NBA Offseason. Obviously, the center position needs an answer before anything else, but behind all that drama, Phoenix needs to address other spots on their roster as well.

Sliding up from center, the power forward position has another question mark floating above it, this one asking whether or not Cameron Johnson should start over Jae Crowder from here on out.

This topic of conversation is no stranger to the Suns community, especially more recently with Johnson enjoying a stellar 2021-22 season. Regardless, we never saw Monty Williams make the switch. Crowder got the nod over the younger player in Johnson, and no one really had an issue with it.

The Bossman brought an energy and edge to this Suns team that every franchise seeks. His toughness on the defensive side remains valuable, as does his high caliber 3-point shot. However, Johnson flashed those attributes all the same.

In most Suns fan circles though, any calls for Johnson to start are often followed by “We need Cam’s scoring off the bench” or “He’ll be a Sixth Man of the Year” arguments. That thought process is both correct and incorrect in my opinion.

Although Johnson may look like the better offensive player, he does not create his own shot, which is crucial when being that lead man for your reserve squad.

This past season, Johnson shot 22.0 percent off pull-up jumpers and 27.0 percent off the dribble. Both those figures ranked close to last on Phoenix’s roster. On the other hand, Crowder shot 36.0 and 42.0 percent in those same stat categories, pointing to him as the better option off the bench.

Overall, Johnson enjoyed a better 2021-22 season as well, averaging nearly 13 points per game and shooting the lights out 42.5 percent from deep. His nomination as a finalist for the Sixth Man of the Year award was well deserved, but it’s time for him to move up the ladder.

Both the fans and the Suns front office needs to see what Johnson will bring to the table as an NBA starter. This is a big year coming up for both him and Crowder with their current contracts set to expire next summer.

With Johnson being younger and a home grown player on this team, he resembles an ideal piece to stick with the franchise for the long haul. Coming through with another positive season will only cement that as well.

This coming season feels like one certain to play as a turning point for the Suns overall as a franchise. Although several chess pieces still need to be moved this offseason, the on-court product which the team puts out will tell us whether or not the Suns can still contend, or if more second round exits lie on the horizon.

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Johnson can be a cornerstone for this franchise along with Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges if the former of those options occur. It’s time to take the leash off him and plug him in as a full-time starter.