The Phoenix Suns have only played 16 games this season, but that is 20% of the schedule. Whereas the Suns rode roughshod last season, this season will be a bit bumpier of a ride. At 10-6, Phoenix is tied for the second-best record in the West but the pack is crowded. While injuries have been the central narrative thus far for Phoenix, the players on the court shape the real story.
1. The Suns’ depth is decent but not inelastic
This past offseason was not one for the record books for Phoenix, but James Jones seemed to have pieced together a team that had a chance to compete. New players like Jock Landale, Damion Lee, and Josh Okogie were supposed to help round out the bench with returning role players Bismack Biyombo, Torrey Craig, and Cameron Payne. However, injuries have significantly changed the rotation.
First, a brief injury to Deandre Ayton showed that Landale and Biyombo could do a job. Thankfully, Ayton’s damage was not long-term, unlike the meniscus tear suffered by Cameron Johnson.
Stepping into the starting line-up from a sixth-man role, Johnson was finding his game when he went down in a non-contact injury.
Craig has done an admirable job during Johnson’s absence, but Jae Crowder’s continuing to not be with the team limits Monty Williams’s options at the four.
Adding insult to injury has been the mysterious foot injury of Chris Paul. The Suns’ point guard has not played since hurting his foot in Philadelphia at the beginning of a road trip two weeks ago.
Maybe the brightest spot in all of the injury mess has been the play of Cameron Payne, who has bounced back after a down season. Payne has found a real rhythm in Paul’s absence, averaging over 20 points and six assists per contest in his six starts.