As part of a new weekly column for Bright Side, I’ll take a look within and outside of the Phoenix Suns to find a range of aspects to point out, good or bad.
The column hitting the webs this late in the week is not how it’ll be most often, but the Suns have had a pretty empty stretch relatively, so I wanted to wait for the Wednesday night game against the Warriors.
There’s a lot to like about a 60-plus win team, so let’s start with the good:
Chris Paul’s smooth re-integration
As soon as Paul came back, he was right up to games with points in the teens and assists in the teens. Top that off with a steal in each game and minimal turnovers, Paul is who he was all season.
As for any concerns about his shooting, given that the injury was to his shooting thumb, all indications are looking good: shooting 60% from the field and 100% from the line.
My favorite CP3 moment of the week was his relentlessness in seeking out a matchup against Nemanja Bjelica early in the second quarter against the Warriors. He has no fear in toying with guys.
The Landry Shamet renaissance
Over the last eight games, Phoenix has seen eight double-digit outputs from bench players. Four of those have come from Shamet — 11.1 points in 21.4 minutes over that stretch, shooting 50.0% from deep.
Dating back to the All-Star Break, he’s shooting 43.8% from deep on 5.3 attempts per game, good for 10.1 points in 22.5 minutes over the 18 games.
Cam Johnson on pace to return ahead of playoffs
Last season, Johnson had a wrist injury to deal with that kept him out for the end of the regular season with no time to get his sea legs under him before the first round. That lost time made a clear difference, as Johnson averaged just 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 20.0 minutes during the six-game series against the Lakers.
Johnson won’t need to kick it into gear immediately this time, as he’s set to have time in the regular season to get his rhythm back.
Cam Johnson said it’s an ongoing process getting back. Didn’t offer a target date for a return but said the goal is to get some of these remaining games under his belt to get back in a rhythm before the playoffs, unlike last year, when he jumped back in with the wrist injury pic.twitter.com/53ct15xPGE— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) March 29, 2022
Clippers getting healthy
On Mar. 29, Paul George made his return on TNT vs Utah. ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reported Norm Powell could return within “7-10 days”. Less than a week earlier, Youngmisuk also reported Kawhi Leonard could rejoin the team after a potential play-in victory. Adding more credence to the idea, Kevin O’Connor from The Ringer stated in a Mar. 29 podcast that the “intention” is for Leonard to be back in the playoffs.
Suns fans know how formidable — and annoying, despite no longer having public enemy no. 1 Patrick Beverly — even a partially-healthy Clippers team can be, and with the Clippers firmly in the play-in picture, they could be the Suns’ round one opponent.
In his debut, George’s defense was nightmarish on the ball, forcing numerous deflections and turnovers, and not letting anyone get by him. Offensively, it was clear to see he had to shake off some rust with some early miscues, but he was almost always in full control of himself and the offense.
George finished the game with 34 points on 20 shots with 6 assists, leading his team to a comeback 6-point win after trailing by 25. The Clippers, especially the healthier they are, are definitely one of the less ideal round one matchups, so this is a situation to monitor.
Suns nation, what were your favorite and least favorite things from the past week?