4 Rreasons the Suns are better with Johnson back in the team

Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Although he has only played in three of the four straight Phoenix Suns wins since returning from a knee injury, Cameron Johnson’s positive influence on the team is apparent.

For the last six weeks, the Phoenix Suns have struggled as a team, as injuries have taken a toll on the team. With Johnson, Chris Paul, and Devin Booker all missing significant action, the struggles should not come as a surprise. However, what maybe is surprising is just how much better Phoenix is sans Booker with Johnson back in action. Cam brings several things to the table which make Phoenix a better, more complete team.

Cam can light up the basket with his shot

Although only one of his three games back has Johnson had his stroke going, Cam can consistently find ways to score for Phoenix. In his first game back against Brooklyn, Johnson did not shoot particularly well, going 4 of 10 off the bench. However, Johnson attacked the basket hard and earned nine free throws, sinking them all to finish with 19 points.

Most recently against Charlotte, Johnson was en-fuego, going 9 of 11 from the field and scoring 24 points in 18 minutes of action. Against the Bobcats, Johnson did not even get to the line once, but his six three-pointers made the difference. The ability to score in multiple ways and serve as a primary scoring threat with Booker still out vastly improves the Suns and the pressure on players like Mikal Bridges.

Johnson makes teams pay for leaving  to double down low

In today’s NBA, the players’ athleticism makes spacing the floor extremely important. Johnson is one player that can do that in spades for the Suns. As evidenced by his hot shooting against Charlotte, if teams try to help off of Johnson, they will pay for it.

The resulting space that the threat of Johnson adds to the floor helps the Phoenix big men have more room to operate. While Deandre Ayton has been out injured, there is little doubt Ayton will benefit from teams not being able to double him off of one less player.

As the regular season moves into the playoffs, that extra half-step of space will make a difference when the game slows down, and Johnson can help provide it.

Johnson provides D as well as threes for the Suns

When he came out of North Carolina, most people saw Johnson as a three-and-d wing. The reality is Johnson provides threes on offense and defense. Cam has a sweet stroke with the basketball, and defensively, Johnson can often defend three positions, making him a valuable defensive contributor. Johnson can keep most wings in front of him while still having the strength and tenacity to defend seven-footers in the post.

Johnson will not be mistaken for Ben Wallace defensively anytime soon, and he is not a defensive player of the year candidate like Bridges. Still, Johnson’s ability to switch on and off the ball defensively makes Phoenix a strong, more balanced team without the ball.

Protecting the basketball is a priority for Johnson

Maybe one of the best and most overlooked attributes of Johnson is his ability to protect the basketball. He should not be mistaken as a playmaker. However, Johnson has the handles with the ball to bring it up the court and provide a competent ballhandler when the game is on the line.

Johnson has only had three turnovers in the three games since returning and averages less than one turnover per game. That ability to protect the ball and make intelligent decisions makes Phoenix better.

The Suns are not back to full strength yet and will not be until their best player – Booker – returns. In the meantime, the return of Johnson should continue to buoy the team as Phoenix prepares for a big stretch run.

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