Phoenix Suns End of Durant Pursuit Guarantees New Role for This Player

Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Brooklyn Nets finally pumped the breaks on what could only be described as a rollercoaster month and a half for Phoenix Suns fans.

Like any amusement park ride, those on board enjoyed its first few moments. Few things can match the thrill of potentially acquiring an all-time great player and Kevin Durant’s trade request subjected the Phoenix faithful to just that.

However, the ride went on for a bit too long.

This rollercoaster riddled with twists, turns, and extensive loops naturally left many of us nauseous with its never-ending nature. Brooklyn left Durant’s trade request unmet for weeks on end and the teams engaged in discussions involving him grew day by day.

But now, with the Nets and Durant having reached an agreement to stick together, the ride is over. We can step off, touch the ground safely, and look onto the 2022-23 campaign without any lagging distractions.

However, things cooling off in one department for the Suns only means that they’ll soon heat up in another. After all, they do play in the Valley of the Sun.

Phoenix Suns Not Adding Kevin Durant Means a New Player will Start in 2022-23

With Durant now off the table, the Suns find themselves with some flexibility at the power forward spot. Jae Crowder might be out to the door and Torrey Craig remains a backup at best.

At this moment, Cameron Johnson looks almost certain to be the last one there to pick up all the pieces at that position and likely become the team’s starter for the upcoming season.

With Crowder gone, or at the very least about to be gone given his contract situation, the time is now for Phoenix to groom Johnson into their power forward of the future. Being up for an extension to his rookie deal, the team is on the clock to make a significant financial investment in him as well.

The stars are aligning, seemingly all in the shape of No. 23 as we march toward the 2022-23 season.

Last year, Johnson established himself as one of the game’s premiere elite bench players. He averaged 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He also came through for the Suns often as an elite marksman, shooting 42.5 percent from downtown on 5.9 attempts per game.

Although Johnson has just three years of NBA ball under his belt, all those numbers represent career-highs for him. He seems committed to elevating his game still as young player and has found success in doing so thus far.

Johnson also illustrated an ability to show out when it mattered the most last season. Who could forget his unconscious shooting against the New York Knicks even after engaging in a scuffle with Julius Randle?

That was just one of his many runs that often put games away for the Suns, as the former UNC Tar Heel shot a team-high and boiling hot 63.6 percent from three during clutch situations. He’s built for the big moments—the ones which Phoenix expects to find themselves in during the upcoming season as expected contenders.

Next. Mikal Bridges on KD Speculation. dark

With the door opening at his position, his growth, and the financial factors coming into play, Cameron Johnson starting at the power forward is as good a bet you can make heading into the 2022-23 season. It’s been a long time coming for the 26 year old, but something well worth the wait, and indeed knocking on the door.