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New Phoenix Suns starting power forward Cameron Johnson appeared in only 7 full games this season before going down with a torn meniscus that will sideline him until about the trade deadline. Officially the recovery prognosis for a meniscus cleanup is 1-2 months, which could have us all on ‘day to day’ watch by Christmas, but you know the Suns are cautious and will take their time before activating Cam from any injured list.
Before going down, there were signs of a perfect fit in the Suns starting lineup. In 67 minutes on the floor together over 6 games — a very small sample size, I know — they produced a league-best +33 net rating per 100 possessions (roughly, outscoring opponents by 33 if extended over a full game) for any lineup with 40+ minutes together.
In his last four games before the injury, he averaged 18.3 points (including 44% on 8.5 threes per game), 4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game as part of a Suns five-game winning streak. They were 6-1 and at the top of the West. They sported a top-five offense, top-five defense and the league’s best net rating as a team.
But then he went down, and the Suns will be without his services for the next 15-30 games. They can stay afloat, and always have with players out of the lineup, but can they stay at the top of the West?
We asked Suns fans this question before their loss to the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
Since Cam’s injury, including the game he only played 5 minutes, the Suns have lost 3 of their 5 games and have a below-average net rating of -0.2. Of course, their results are compounded by Chris Paul (sore heel) being out too. Including the game he couldn’t play the second half, the Suns have lost 2 of 3. Paul’s injury is minor, and he should be back in the lineup soon.
I hope you’re right, Suns fans, and the Suns can win 75% of their games without Cam Johnson’s sniper mentality in that starting unit.
Because if that’s the case, and they keep a top-two seed while Cam is out, the Suns will be in great shape when they can add him back to that starting unit.