Monty Williams and the Phoenix Suns tried a lot of lineups leveraging the bench down the stretch, making a fan wonder who will be the first player off the Suns’ bench in the playoffs.
When Phoenix ran roughshod over the Western Conference to reach the NBA Finals two seasons ago, the sixth man was pretty well established, with Cameron Payne a force off the bench in Chris Paul’s first season with the Suns. Now two seasons later, although both Paul and Payne are on the team, Cam is not guaranteed to be Phoenix’s sixth man but is certainly in the mix. Ultimately, any of three or four different players could be the first player off the Suns’ bench.
No one player in the sixth-man role for the Suns
Two years ago, it was Cam Payne as the obvious sixth-man for the Suns, and last season it was a different Cam, with Cameron Johnson getting the call first, most often off the Suns’ bench. However, this season was vastly different for Phoenix, as the Suns’ roster battled injuries throughout the campaign. Those injuries and a blockbuster trade meant that there was little consistency in who got the call first for Williams and the Suns, but that could change in the playoffs.
With heavy minutes coming the starter’s way in the playoffs, we should expect the Suns’ bench to get shorter, not longer, as it did down the stretch. Any opportunity to make decisions on his rotation before the games are win or go home has passed, and Williams has some choices.
The Suns’ sixth man will depend on the situation
Since there is no established sixth man for Phoenix, we should expect that the first player off the Suns’ bench will depend on the situation and, to some extent, the opponent. Teams are more apt to match up in the playoffs, and given a plethora of options on the pine, Williams could get creative with his substitutions and patterns. There are three players most likely to be the Suns’ first substitutes.