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2023 Phoenix Suns Player Review: Did you know Ish Wainright played football?

Forced into a bigger role than anticipated, Ish Wainright performed as one would expect.

Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to our Phoenix Suns Season in Review series where we do individual PLAYER REVIEWS of each man that contributed in the 2022-23 season. We go through the roster to analyze what went right/wrong for them, and what they can do to get better for next season.

Ish Wainright

  • Position: Power Forward
  • Vitals: 6’6” tall, 250 pounds, 28 years old
  • Experience: 2 years
  • Stats (regular season): 4.2 PPG, 0.9 APG, 2.3 RPG, 37.0 FG%, 32.9 3PT%, 83.9 FT%

Regular Season Recap

Ish Wainright started the season dealing with something much bigger than basketball, as he tragically lost his father just two games into the season. Ish used the loss of the man he referred to as his “Superman” as motivation for the season. “He’s in the stands. That’s why I’m excited. He can see my play, workout, everything.”

Wainright’s strength through tragedy was important in a season where injuries to the Suns’ front court forced him into a larger role than expected. His minutes per game nearly doubled from the season before - going from 8.0 minutes per game in 2021-22 to 15.3 MPG this season. The increased workload came with a relatively parallel increase to his stat line, which does not exactly jump out at you.

That’s not a knock. We know that Ish Wainright is not on the team to fill the boxscore. But that’s not to say he did not have his standout performances. Like his 17 point, 4 rebound, 2 assist effort in a 116-107 road loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

I only referenced his rebounds and assists above because the cover image of the video did. The more important takeaway from that performance were the three steals and two blocks Wainright added. That is also more indicative of the value Ish brings to the Suns. Defense.

His nickname is “Strongman” for a reason. As a 6’6” power forward, Wainright is forced to use his width and strength to defend taller players. He continued to do that effectively, as he improved on the defensive end this season.

Ultimately, however, Wainright should not average 15 minutes per game. He should be the guy who provides stints for defensive purposes with the occasional outlier game on the offensive end — much like his performance in the 130-126 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on March 5, 2023.

In that game, Wainright came in for the first time with two minutes left in the third quarter. He proceeded to hit 2 threes in that period, then played the entire fourth. He finished with 12 points and made 4 of his 5 three-point attempts.

As a whole, considering that Wainright was forced to play a much larger role than anyone anticipated this season, he did an admirable job.

Post-Season Recap

Wainright played more of a “Wainright”-like role in the playoffs, averaging just 3.5 minutes per game. Since there’s not much more to report here, let’s just remember the time Strongman did this:

Biggest Strength

His strength — obviously. Wainright is undersized in comparison to NBA most power forwards, and not as athletic as most small forwards. Yet he still manages to make his mark as a capable defender. He’s the type of player who can play spot minutes if someone needs a breather or is in foul trouble, without there being falloff on the defensive end.

While 28, Wainright is also somewhat raw - having just completed his second year in the NBA. Can his game develop further? Time will tell. But at his relatively low cost, it’s something worth finding out.

Biggest Weakness

Ish leaves a lot to be desired on the offensive end. His lack of height and athleticism means his most-likely contribution on offense is as a three-point shooter.

In that regard, he shot just 32.9% from three this season. While a slight uptick from the 32.2% he shot the season before, he needs to be more consistent from deep if he’s going to be deserving a the type of minutes he saw last season.

Contract Details

  • Ish Wainright has a club option for $1,927,896, which Suns must exercise by June 29, 2023.

It’s a small contract. Plus, Ish is familiar with the team and the system, and he certainly deserves to return. It makes sense for the team to bring Wainright back.

Overall Grade

  • Overall grade as an NBA player: D+
  • Relative grade to preseason expectations: B-


How do you grade Ish Wainright’s year, including playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    (9 votes)
  • 30%
    (48 votes)
  • 48%
    (76 votes)
  • 10%
    (16 votes)
  • 4%
    (7 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now

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