When we talk about the fifth option, there are currently two players that come to mind Torrey Craig, and Josh Okogie. Both these players are essential for the Suns to make a deep playoff push. The only problem? They are hesitant.
Today we look at why the fifth piece in the Suns squad is essential.
Fifth option on Past Champions
Looking at past champions like the Golden State Warriors in 2017, we can see a pattern where there was always a fifth piece to the puzzle. They had Shawn Livingston and Andre Iguodala, who significantly impacted the floor.
Whether it was Andre locking down the best offensive player or Shawn just dominating in the post, the Warriors had Multiple options when their starters sat on the bench. Likewise, a strong bench has contributed to all four Golden State titles.
Another excellent example would be the Milwaukee Bucks in their 2021 championship run. While it is true that Giannis pretty much took over every game he played, but the fact remains other players not named Khris Middleton or Jrue Holiday impacted the series.
the contributions of Bobby Portis killed the Suns in the paint after Dario Saric went down with an injury. Additionally, PJ Tucker’s defense played a major role in winning the chip.
Hesitation from the Suns’ Shooters
The Suns have two of the scariest offensive forces in the league with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. It is almost a guarantee that these two players combined can put up at least 60 points on any given night but what about the rest of the scoring?
That is when players like Torrey Craig, Terrence Ross, TJ Warren, and Josh Okogie come in.
It is further best described by JJ. Redick, in his podcast, Old Man and The Three:
"“The thing about Phoenix – and I pointed this out in one of the games I had recently – Kevin was out. Torrey Craig caught a swing pass at the top of the key, and he was wide open and he hesitated. I think he swung the ball and next time he shot it or Josh Okogie shot it. But to me that fifth guy, you talk about reliability and stability at that position – the fifth guy can’t be what Josh Hart was towards the end of his Portland Trail Blazers tenure."
Countdown to NBA Playoffs
Phoenix has successfully captured the 4th Seed going into the playoffs. They have a tough task ahead, facing Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.
The last time Durant faced the LA Clippers in the 2019 playoffs, he averaged 35 points on 55-40-95 shooting splits. Durant reminded everyone about his greatness going into that first-round series. When fans and media started challenging Durant’s aggressiveness towards the game he said
"“I’m not going to get in the way of the game because I want to have a back-and-forth with Patrick Beverley. I’m Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y’all know who I am.”"
The Clippers currently are shorthanded with Paul George out for at least the first round of the playoffs. However, Clippers arguably have the deepest bench in the NBA.
The Suns, on the other hand, are entirely healthy and certainly have the upper hand going into the series. Regardless, it will still be one of the most competitive first-round series.