One of my favorite things about hosting the Suns JAM Session Podcast live following Suns games is the interaction via the YouTube chat with fellow fans. The thoughts and feedback, the observations and questions; all not only contribute to the show but provide a holistic view of the state and concerns of the Suns.
One question that has been repeatedly posed in the chat is what has happened to the Langston Galloway minutes? We all see that Jevon Carter has filled the void as the backup shooting guard, but why?
Langston Galloway not getting consistent minutes on this team makes zero sense to me.— chris (@2thepher) April 6, 2021
Langston Galloway has quickly become a ninja favorite for the Phoenix Suns fanbase. His rapid Eddie House-esque release and ability to quickly put points on the scoreboard will always garner appreciation from fans. In baseball, “chicks dig the long ball”. In basketball, it is the three-ball that is sexy these days. He leads the team in shooting from beyond the arc, making an impressive 45.1%.
Galloway doesn’t receive many minutes per game — 11.1 when he plays — but his per-36 is seventh best on the team at 15.6 points. He fills the void that I have stated the Suns needed coming into the 2020-21 season: when Booker is off the floor, we need a guard who can fill up the cup. Galloway’s offensive rating of 121-points-per-100-poessions (4th best on the team) and true shooting percentage of 63.4% (3rd best on the team) address that need.
Despite all of these statistics, the seventh-year guard from St. Joseph’s has barely sniffed the court as of late. In the Suns last 22 games, Langston has played in 9 of them. His last appearance versus the Hawks was 13:21 long and he shot the ball 2 times.
So yeah, I see why everyone in the chat asks, “where is Galloway?” and “why is Jevon Cater getting his minutes?”.
Seeing as I am not in the huddle with Monty Williams nor am I in the pregame strategy meetings, I do not have a definitive answer to this question. I will theorize as to why we are seeing more Jevon and less of Galloway and do my best to provide answers to these questions.
The ‘Keep Everyone Engaged’ Theory
For the first time since the 2013-14 season, the Phoenix Suns will end the season with a winning record. Yes, if they lose every remaining game, the team will be 37-35. We’ve made it to other side of .500! Unless the wheels fall completely off, the Suns are headed to the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
A challenge that Monty Williams must face during this final stretch prior to the playoffs is keeping everyone on the team engaged. These are NBA players who, wherever they came from, were the best basketball player on their AAU team, in high school and at college. They are used to being the focal point in some way, shape, or form.
Egos must be stroked. I doubt this is the case relative to the Phoenix Suns as, from the outside looking in, they appear to be a team who embraces that word: team.
When you look at how Monty has deployed his backup shooting guard position, however, it does provide some merit to the conversation.
Galloway has missed the prior 6 games for the Phoenix Suns. His last appearance, in game 46 for the Suns, marked his 34th appearance of the season. Jevon Carter had sat the previous 4 games prior to game 46, with his last appearance being in game 42 versus the Heat. How many games had he played in with that appearance? Yep. 34.
Seeing as Jevon has played in the last 6 games should we expect to see the pendulum swing back as Monty equalizes appearances? Could Langston rattle off 6 consecutive appearances and balance The Force? It is a theory...
The ‘Bald is Beautiful’ Theory
All right, hear me out on this.
Monty Williams is bald. Jevon Carter is bald. Is Monty providing minutes to Jevon Carter because he loves seeing his reflection gleam off of Jevon’s sweaty head during timeout breaks? You can’t do that with the countless hair follicles on Galloway’s head.
Being bald is like being someone who rides a motorcycle or drives a Jeep. It’s this little club you belong to. Motorcyclists ever-so-slightly lift their left hand when passing a fellow motorcyclist to wave, a subtle acknowledgement of the lifestyle and risk they take by choosing to ride on two wheels and an engine.
As a bald guy myself, I know what it is like to be walking through a crowd of people and seeing a fellow domer. You modestly nod and carry on, knowing that you both have dealt with the psychological struggle of loosing your hair.
Maybe it is this bond that both Williams and Carter share that have lead to more minutes for him as of late.
The ‘Team Identity’ Theory
The playoffs are in sight as there are 20 games left in the Suns regular season. Soon Monty will lock down his rotations to eight or nine players. Now is the time to fine tune what those rotations will be, allowing players an opportunity to display their strengths and weaknesses for his assessment of what will allow this team to make a deep playoff run.
He has had 52 games to observe, coach, and define what the identity of this team is. And that identity begins on defense.
When James Jones pulled the trigger on the Chris Paul trade, the Phoenix Suns were acquiring a Hall of Fame distributor who controlled the pace of the game. They also secured someone who has earned a spot on the NBA All-Defensive team...9 times. Couple that with 2018 draft picks Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton, both who displayed defensive growth in the second year, and the Suns were primed to be a team with a defensive affinity.
We all love the offensive capability of this team. The Suns scored 114.8 points-per-game (7th) and have an offensive rating of 116.5 (5th). Their net rating of +7.0 is 3rd in the league. Langston Galloway personifies the offense we desire.
The backbone of this team, and the attribute that will bode well for them come playoff time, is their defense. The Suns have a defensive rating of 109.5 (5th in the NBA), allow 107.8 points-per-game (5th), give up 34.7% from three (3rd), and allow 22 assists-per-game (1st).
And Jevon Carter personifies that defense.
HIs full-court press, his pesky hustle, his active hands; Carter is taking Galloway’s minutes because of his association with the team’s defensive identity. Those in the Carter camp applaud his constant and consistent commitment for disrupting the opposition's flow on offense.
Jevon has a defensive rating of 109, tied for 4th on the team. Langston has a defensive rating of 114, which is last.
Perhaps Williams is providing minutes to Carter because he wanted him to get more comfortable on the floor offensively, knowing that his defensive prowess will never falter.
We all know that Langston Galloway is a flame thrower. He is instant offense. But you have to play both sides of the floor to be a complete threat, especially come playoff time.
Bubble Jevon Carter scored 7.0 points on 50% shooting, including 55.2% from three. He also averaged 1.1 steals. Carter and Cameron Payne acted like the Bash Brothers duo of Reed and Portman in D2: The Mighty Ducks. They created havoc for the opposition while maintaining effectiveness on the offensive end.
Jevon Carter and Cam Payne: pic.twitter.com/XRQZJQtJcI— The Bright Side (@BrightSideSun) January 7, 2021
My assumption is that is what Monty envisions come playoff time.
Chicks dig the three-ball. But bald is beautiful and Jevon Carter has the best chance of being the answer the Suns need in the playoffs to lock down defenders and keep the sustained scoring going while Chris Paul and Devin Booker are on the bench.