If there is one area the Phoenix Suns have had to rely on more than they expected to start this season, it is with their role players. With Devin Booker only finding some consistency now after injuries, and Bradley Beal still out for the next few weeks at least, these spot guys have been critical.
Individuals such as Grayson Allen, Keita Bates-Diop and Eric Gordon stepping onto the court and helping the franchise in key moments so far this season. This is also true of Josh Okogie – perhaps the most underrated role player this roster has – but as one of the few returning players from last season, he is getting less credit.
There are several important role players who played for the Suns last season and who stepped up for the team, but who are struggling elsewhere this year.
So much of how a role player adapts to a new situation can depend on teammates, fit and the coaching staff. Which is why it is surprising to see some of the names who have appeared on this list, individuals who the Suns were sorry to see go to varying different degreees.
Had they remained in The Valley, their careers could be in a different place right now. On the other hand though, the organization wouldn’t have had room for these players. Tough as it has been to watch Booker and Beal sit on the sidelines, most of the front office’s offseason moves have paid off to some degree. Which makes the prospect of a reunion with these three slim.
3. Landry Shamet
Sharpshooter Landry Shamet was always a divisive figure with Suns fans. He generally gave up size and was not a good defender whenever he was on the court, but he was capable of hitting down shots in bunches and had a couple of moments when he nailed big shots for the team.
Ironically, Shamet probably would have been at his most successful spotting up around Booker, Beal and Kevin Durant. Instead he now plays for the Washington Wizards, generally seen as a laughing stock of a franchise at this moment in time because of the way they are led by Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma, and their 2-11 record.
Shamet’s play has suffered as a result, with the 4.1 attempts from deep per game the lowest mark of his career to date. Given this is the one thing he does really well, it is puzzling the Wizards don’t go to it a little bit more each night. Then again, there are other players eating up most of the shots, and space is at a premium for the Wizards when they are on the court.
Despite the obvious woes of this franchise, they rank an impressive sixth in assists per game as a team, at 27.5. You would think Shamet of all people would benefit from this as a player who moves well off the ball and pops open for shots. Instead he is averaging a career low 6.6 points per game, with the 15.4 minutes a night also the lowest mark he’s posted.
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