After four months of quarantine and questions on whether it’ll come back, the NBA regular season will kick off on July 31 and the Phoenix Suns will participate. This will provide the young players on the team a chance to experience a playoff-like atmosphere and grow from it. Even if the Suns don’t make the actual playoffs, this season can potentially accelerate the growth of this team. One player that’ll have an incredible opportunity to grow is forward Cameron Johnson.
Johnson has been decent during his rookie season, playing 49 games and averaging 8.1 points per game. He was buried in the depth chart with “Tsunami Papi” Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mikal Bridges eating up most of the minutes and was also bit with the injury bug as well. When he did see the court, he played like any rookie would play, up and down depending on the situation he faced.
One of the reasons Johnson should have a better showing in Orlando is the four month gap the entire league went through. Four months is usually how long the NBA offseason is and most players use that time to improve their game physically and mentally.
Sure, this was in the middle of a quarantine/pandemic but there are plenty of ways Johnson could’ve worked on his game while socially distancing himself. Film study, working on his shot/footwork by himself or with a trainer, working out, etc. By having that time to work out and grow, Johnson could potentially return with a better game than what we saw last year which could lead him to getting more time on the court in the bubble.
Another benefit for Johnson and why he’ll get more time on the court is the fact Oubre won’t play in Orlando due to a knee injury. This provides Johnson a chance to see minutes as the sixth man or subbing for Bridges at the three spot. In a lineup with Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Ricky Rubio, Johnson should see plenty of open shots available for him. This will give him valuable playing time and a chance to have live reps with the starters. Compound this with the growth we could potentially see from the break the players had, Johnson could easily come out of this season with a lot of growth.
This bubble is one of, if not the most unique situation the NBA has ever had. It provides a playoff atmosphere without it actually being a playoff series due to the schedule and play-in tournament for the eight seed. This will allow these young players and teams a chance to grow. Johnson has had a rocky first season, but after an equivalent of an offseason and Oubre’s injury, he has a chance to make these last eight games count for the most.