Josh Okogie is running out of time to prove he deserves minutes for the Suns

The Phoenix Suns are gearing up for the NBA's postseason, and Josh Okogie looks like he might just be left behind.

Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Few players have experienced the ups and downs that Josh Okogie has over the last two seasons for the Phoenix Suns. He's had one of the most inconsistent roles on the team, directly in line with his own play.

Okogie is arguably the Suns’ best defender, and definitely their best hustle player, which has earned him plenty of playing time.

Those strengths were on full display last regular season when he started most of the Suns’ second half games.

His ability to defend multiple positions, while also providing some much needed energy, made him an invaluable member of the Suns' rotation.

However, his inconsistencies on offense, especially from three, have held him back from being a truly great player. At times, those flaws have even completely outweighed his defensive output, as was the case in last years playoffs.

After shooting a passable 33% from deep in the regular season, Okogie only hit 2 of his 14 attempts in the playoffs. His minutes nosedived as the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets completely ignored him on offense and swarmed the rest of the Suns. 

That theme has continued into this season, as teams are defending Okogie much the same way, causing his playing time to fluctuate based on how well he’s playing on offense. He seems to have lost all confidence in his shot, as his 3-point percentage is currently 29%, and he regularly passes up wide open looks. 

His issues on offense this season have gone beyond just his woes from deep. Recently, especially in games where Bradley Beal is inactive, Okogie has been used as release valve in the middle of the paint when Kevin Durant and Devin Booker get double teamed.

It’s a smart adjustment to get him out of the corner and fix the Suns spacing, but he’s struggled making the next play in those instances. To be fair to Okogie, that’s not a problem unique to him as a lot of the Suns role players are struggling with that particular play. But unlike those other players, Okogie isn't making it up anywhere else on offense.

Despite those issues, there was still hope that playing Okogie next to the Suns’ newly formed “Big 3” would nullify his weaknesses, allowing them to reap the benefits of having him on the floor. The Suns guard rotation is pretty weak defensively, so theoretically Okogie could provide a lot of value and balance subbing in for Grayson Allen or Eric Gordon when the Suns need some stops.

Sadly though, that has not come fruition. The Okogie-Beal-Booker-Durant 4-man lineup has a -6.6 net rating in 21 minutes together. Conversely, the 3-man lineup of Beal, Booker, and Durant has a 12.7 net this season. Okogie’s offense is a big enough liability that it drags down a normally elite trio.

It is a small sample size, but Okogie might be running out of time to rectify it. Beal will be back soon, making one less rotation spot available. Royce O’Neale has already locked down another in short order.

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There’s little point in trying to figure out how to make Okogie lineups work when there’s better options available. Frank Vogel seemingly reached that conclusion when he opted to go with Saben Lee over Okogie in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Lakers.

That could be a one game adjustment, or it could spell the end of Okogie’s time getting meaningful mintues.

With the postseason just a month and half away, Frank Vogel will start to hone in on his playoff rotation. If Okogie is able to regain his confidence and form from last season, he could very well be in it. Right now though, it looks like he's run out of time.