3 Players who could get axed from the Suns’ playoff rotation

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Phoenix has arguably the best core in the league, but their depth remains a concerning question mark. Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton are an elite starting quartet. Those four have shared the floor for 319 non-garbage-time possessions and have outscored their opponents by a whopping +19.7 points per 100 possessions, in the 100th percentile for lineups leaguewide. 

That’s not too shabby! Fifth starter Josh Okogie has played well this season, although his minutes wax and wane depending on how the shot is falling. Nevertheless, he’ll be a rotation mainstay.

After the starting five, though, virtually no one is guaranteed minutes. Coach Monty Williams will have to juggle a handful of players with different strengths and weaknesses depending on hot hands and matchups.

3 Suns who could get axed from Monty Williams’ playoff rotation

That said, a few players stand out as most vulnerable to losing their minutes.

3) Landry Shamet

Like the Ganges River dolphin, Landry Shamet’s minutes are endangered. Also like the Ganges River dolphin, Landry Shamet is nearly blind.

That’s (probably) not true, but Shamet has been hitting just 33.3% from the field since the year 2023 started. I find it hard to believe a man with two functioning eyes could shoot that poorly.

He’s a tick better from outside the arc and a decent backup playmaker. But a skinny 6’4″ guard without many defensive chops or a strong dribble-drive game is the exact sort of player who tends to be exploited on both ends in the playoffs. Even if he’s not a complete doormat on defense, who could he plausibly guard on the Nuggets or Clippers?

His primary competition for end-of-bench shooter-specialist minutes will likely be Terrence Ross, who shares many of the same strengths and weaknesses. Ross, however, is several inches taller and still a better athlete despite being several years older. Given two questionable defenders with streaky shots, it’s hard to see a coach ever picking the smaller one (and, frankly, I’m not confident that Ross will see many minutes, either).

It’s not that Shamet is useless; on the contrary, he’s been a valuable contributor for much of the past two seasons. But his best skill (shooting) hasn’t consistently popped, and his second-best skill (passing) won’t be needed nearly as much with the addition of Durant.

The Suns can rotate between Torrey Craig, Ish Wainwright, and TJ Warren for backup wing roles. If I were Monty Williams and needed to play someone else, I might even dust off Damion Lee instead of Shamet.