Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Phoenix Suns fans and fans across the country.
Sign up here to join Reacts.
Remember Media Day 2022, all of a month ago? Nobody could forget the Game 7 collapse. Deandre Ayton was apparently pissed off, and had a non-speaking relationship with head coach Monty Williams. Chris Paul and Devin Booker were walking around like zombies.
Then the Phoenix Suns started preseason with an historic loss to an NBL team without a single real NBA prospect on the roster to kick off an uninspiring 1-3 preseason. Then came Dallas, who brought 24 minutes of Game 7 with them for the first half of the new season.
Finally, Devin Booker shook the Suns awake. Book led a fourth quarter charge where the Suns outscored the Mavericks by 17 points in the last 8 minutes — almost all without Chris Paul on the floor.
Since then, the Suns have built a 5-1 record that includes the best net rating in the league.
There have been so many surprises with this Suns team, including:
- Devin Booker dishing more assists than at any time since Chris Paul came.
- Deandre Ayton showing more offensive game than ever.
- Mikal Bridges setting career high in rebounding.
- And the bench unit overall becoming a strength of the team rather than a weakness.
So late last week we asked Suns fans what was their greatest surprise among all these new storylines, and it turns out the bench has been the biggest surprise of all.
Damion Lee had that incredible fourth quarter in game one and has played well since (6p/3r in 17m), but he’s probably only the 4th or 5th best bench player so far this year. Ahead of him, you’ve got newcomer of the year Jock Landale at backup center (10p/5r in 17m), resurgent Cam Payne (9p/3a in 16m) and Torrey Craig (6p/3.5r in 15m), plus there’s been great play from Bismack Biyombo and Landry Shamet too!
Almost every one of those guys is playing better than expected so far, and it totally looks sustainable.