Phoenix Suns: Cameron Payne’s resiliency gives reason for optimism

Phoenix Suns, Cameron Payne. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Cameron Payne. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /
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Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker, Cameron Payne.
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker, Cameron Payne. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

A relationship with Monty Williams provided the gateway to Payne’s opportunity with the Suns.

Monty Williams was on the coaching staff in Oklahoma when they drafted Payne, with the two forming a bond during their time together. Dealing with his own tragedies and struggles over the same years, Williams had worked his way back into the NBA coaching ranks and was now the head coach of the Phoenix Suns.  During their phone call, Payne was offered a chance to ‘leave it all on the court’, and that he did. In what would go down as one of the most underrated Suns moves over the last few years, the Suns had finally found a serviceable, resilient, High IQ backup point-guard.

Due to the NBA’s tiebreaker rules, Phoenix would ultimately lose their playoff spot to the Portland Trail Blazers despite going 8-0 in the bubble. The Suns would pick up Payne’s option in his second year and keep his NBA dream alive. He didn’t disappoint as a year later found himself scoring 29 points in the Western Conference Finals against Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers. He showed that he belonged on the big stage, that he could be a reliable backup point-guard once given the opportunity.

In August 2021, just two days before his birthday, the Suns gave Payne the security he had worked so hard to earn, signing him to a three-year, $19 million contract. Efficiency would prove the biggest problem in his second year; despite averaging 10.8 points and a career-high in assists (4.9), he would shoot an abysmal 40% from the field and 33% from long distance.

Despite many pundits seeing his 2020-21 season in Phoenix as an aberration, and his 2021-22 season as ‘coming back down to earth’, fans have reason to be optimistic. If the past is any indication of Payne’s resiliency, then we should be excited about what’s to come.

Next. Ranking every Phoenix Suns player from shock Adelaide 36ers loss. dark

The 28-year-old had a promising start to his 2022-23 campaign, despite the Suns disappointing loss to the Adelaide 36ers. He scored a team-high 23 points in what the franchise and fans hope is a sign of things to come.