After the first 11 games for season, the Suns have remained true to keeping their starting lineup intact, even after a messy up-and-down stretch right now in the season. Last nights loss to the Washington Wizards may have some coaches looking for changes and soon.
There are questions to why the Suns offense still seems disconnected and why the bench is playing better at the moment. But a big mistake would be to disrupt the starting five by switching in-and-out players from the bench. Cameron Johnson and even Dario Saric are making cases to take the place at the power forward position, now held by Jae Crowder.
Before the season began, we all questioned who would start at the power-forward position but we all really knew it would be Crowder. Johnson and also Saric have had games that have stood out and over shadowed Crowders effort in the box score, but Crowder is a staple in starting lineup on the defense and offensive side of the ball.
Many predicted, even myself, that Johnson would play his way into the starting lineup, switching spots with Jae Crowder. A lot of fans may begin to look that way after looking at the stats between the three players.
28.8 MIN, 9.9 PTS, 4.9 REB, 2.3 AST 35.2 3PT%
23.1 MIN, 12.4 PTS, 3.2 REB, 38.4 3PT%
18.8 MIN, 10.6 PTS, 4.1 REB, 35.7 3PT%
Even with Johnsons emergence at the defensive end and becoming a streaky shooter from 3, his presence off the bench is needed and has to stay put.
With the Suns missing Cameron Payne, you can see a case as him being the most important player off the bench. In losses like the Suns had against the Wizards, the leader of the second unit is needed and is bigger void to fill than we thought. Payne's ability to get to rim and dish (4.3 AST), shoot from 3 (42.9) must be picked up by either Devin Booker or Jevon Carter.
The staggered minutes between Booker and Chris Paul are in need of picking up the tempo and keeping the ball moving. Deandre Ayton needs to work on catching the ball when thrown to him and to always be aware of the ball when it is in Paul’s possession. The little things needed to get this first unit going are holding them back. After an (almost) perfect game against the Indiana Pacers, you can see that it is almost their.
Devin Booker has, as you would imagine, already passed a career high in winning percentage by a Suns starting lineup that has included him in the first 10 games (not including last nights game against the Wizards) of this season. Let’s not screw it up my mixing and matching. The strategy to hold off till Payne comes back healthy needs to be put into place.
Let’s see how far this starting lineup (shown through the first 10 games of the season) can take us and if they can show a bit of romance on the court.
My colorful and modern excel spreadsheets list provides a long look at Bookers history of attended starting lineups. The only lineup that compares to what we are seeing this season is the 7-0 lineup that included Deandre Ayton, Booker, Mikal Bridges, Johnson, and Papa Ricky Rubio. The Dream Team compared to the rest of the lineups we saw dating back to Bookers rookie season.
It is ok for the starting lineup to still be in the process of finding its way, even when the bench at times can be more exciting and intimidating to the opposing teams with 3-point shooting, defense, and hustle. Building off what the bench brings to each game will bring the best out of each individual on the starting five for the Suns.