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2023 Phoenix Suns Player Review: Torrey Craig continued to prove value, bringing 110% effort nightly

In Craig’s second stint with the Suns after being traded back during the 2021-22 season, the forward continued to show how he can add to the team in and outside of the box score. This arrived in the form of impossible offensive rebounds, diving for loose balls, and being able to switch to being the primary POA man as needed.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

2022-23 Player Recaps

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.

Torrey Craig

  • Position: Small forward and Power forward
  • Vitals: 6’7” tall, 221 pounds, 32 years old
  • Experience: 6 years
  • Stats (2022-23 regular season, PHX): 7.4 PPG, 1.5 APG, 5.4 RPG, 45.6 FG%, 39.5 3PT%, 71.1 FT%

In this episode of taking a look at the 2022-23 Phoenix Suns, we go into detail on the return of a key member of the 2021 Finals Run veteran Torrey Craig.

Craig originally joined the Suns from a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2020-21 season after only playing 18 games for the Bucks. He immediately made a major impact during the Sun's playoff run that ironically led to them being matched up against Craig’s former team.

During this time, Craig proved to be a valuable 3&D asset, netting a 40.5 3P% on about 2 threes a game and playing stifling defense on notable players such as Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Aaron Gordon, Paul George, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He also had one of the most famous moments in recent Suns’ history, finishing a nasty oop from Cam Payne with an iconic “Hold on for Craig!” call from Kevin Harlan.

Unfortunately, the Suns fell short as we all know. And for this reason or another, Torrey Craig ended up signing with the Indiana Pacers during the 2022 offseason on a 2 yr/$10 M deal. However James Jones decided that he was not ready to cut ties with Craig, and at the deadline that season the Suns elected to bring him back in exchange for former lottery pick and Maryland standout Jalen Smith (Remember him?)

Craig showed why he was so valuable in the Finals run again, presenting the same toughness on both sides of the floor that any championship team covets. Although his shooting splits were not the greatest, the returning Sun added to a culture that was built on making quick decisions, AKA the 0.5 system. Unfortunately, this led to arguably (I can’t believe there are other games that could be in debate) the worst ending to a season in recent memory with the Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks during the Western Conference semifinals.

That brings us to this season, where TC vastly improved from three being about 40% from that mark, and started 60 of the 82 regular season games for Phoenix. Craig solidified that starting 3 / 4 spot based on if it was before or after the KD trade playing to his strengths. The most notable of his performance this season, however, was in the first-round matchup against the Clippers. Craig was absolutely electric from three, knocking in 55.6% of them on almost 4 attempts per game.

Every point mattered in this series as well despite the Clips missing both PG13 and Kawhi Leonard, with each win being decided by about 9 points. Therefore, Craig’s 12.4 PPG was crucial to the Suns advancing.

That leads to today, with the Suns being bounced in 6 games by the eventual champion Denver Nuggets. Craig will be a UFA in the upcoming class, and the Suns will have to make a decision if they want to retain his contract for the third time.

Regular Season Recap:

Craig served as the essential 5th option in a lineup that featured Book, CP3, Ayton, The Twins, KD, etc. However, as mentioned earlier his three-point percentage leaped from previous years shooting the highest mark in his career. This proved extremely beneficial in spacing the floor for the adamant mid-range scorers on the team. The “Maestros of Mid-Range” if you will actually contain four of the most efficient mid-range season performers in the last 25 seasons as reported in an article by CBS’s Douglas Clawson.

Of these seasons, Kevin Durant has the top three including this previous season. Chris Paul rounded out the list with his 54% clip back in his first season with Phoenix in 2019-2020 (Clawson, 2023).

In addition to his spacing, his toughness was also on display the entire time. This was exemplified back in a March, 14th matchup against the Bucks where Craig was forced to guard the Bucks’ star running back, ehrm I mean power forward, the Greek Freak. Craig was the receiver of not one but two elbows from the back-to-back MVPs where he was absolutely decked in the face. In the second instance, however, the impact was hard enough to send a piece of his tooth flying onto the hardwood. This ultimately forced Craig to repair the tooth the following day.

Post-Season Recap:

Craig played in all 11 playoff games for the Phoenix Suns and was especially productive against the Clippers in the first-round matchup with averages of 6.5 PTS, 2.3 REBS, 0.5 STLS, and a TS% of 72.5%. Stand-out performances included a 22-point (9/12 FG) G1 and 17-point, 5 3PM G2. TC also had a defensive rating of 121.1 during the 2022-23 playoffs, which is above the league average.

However, despite an extremely strong start, the Suns seemingly closed the series against Los Angeles without him. In Game 6, Craig played 17 minutes but only produced 2 rebounds to show for it.

The matchup against Denver in the Western Conference semifinals is where Coach Monty explored other options to try to counteract Denver’s size, including the likes of Josh Okogie and even Ish Wainright. He only averaged 9 MPG throughout the series and seemed to fall out of the rotation after struggling in Game 1 in the Mile High City. Craig finished a -12 on the game and only shot three total shots, making one.

Similar to other wings on the roster, some more consistency in the postseason may have benefited Craig more after producing at an electric level to open against the LAC. He just did not prove enough in the eyes of the coaching staff to maintain his spot as the 5th starter on the floor adjacent to Paul, Book, KD, and Ayton.


With no real metric to show toughness on the floor (other than losing teeth), it is impossible to show the true value that Craig brings to an NBA team. However with that being said, anyone that flips on a Suns game and sees a player fly in from seemingly out of nowhere to grab an offensive rebound, there is an extremely likely chance that it is Torrey Craig. This also translated to success throughout the season, including way back in November 2022 against the Kings where he secured the game-sealing board to lead to Devin Booker free throws.

In addition, Craig is an extremely versatile defender and is excellent at pressuring perimeter players into making mistakes. With a nearly 7-foot wingspan, he also is great at being active in passing lanes and initiating fast-break opportunities off steals/deflections.

TC is also extremely athletic and explosive at the rack off of cuts or at the dunker spot when defenses collapse. This ability is also displayed on defense in deterring shots in the paint or contesting jumpers outside of the key.


Craig’s weakness lies in shot creation outside of catch-and-shoot threes, and the occasional drives to the basket. TC is capable, but not efficient from the 10-16 ft. range only making 29.7% of his shots from that range during the 2022-23 season. However, Craig is not normally asked to be beyond that role in a regular offensive scheme with all personnel healthy. Craig also has a tendency to throw errant passes, with some appearing in clutch situations.

The other major weakness is in the form of being switchable onto larger wings and bigs, in which if the opponent has a clear lane to the basket, they can tend to overpower Craig off the dribble. I would say Craig is most effective as a modern three than a four, with the NBA continuing to get larger and more positionless.

Contract Status

Torrey Craig signed a 2-year, $10 M dollar contract with the Indiana Pacers in the 2021 offseason before being moved to Phoenix in 2022. Craig will be an unrestricted free agent this off-season with the Suns having early bird rights.

Final Season Grade:

My grade for Torrey Craig this season is a B. He was a consistent glue guy all year for the Suns and exerted effort every game by attacking the basket and playing physical defense. The improved three-point shooting benefitted the Suns offensively with/without KD, and he was a major part of why the Suns continued onto the second round in the post-season. Every team needs proven 3&D-type players in their rotation who understand their role and contribute to winning basketball. Craig absolutely meets the criteria for this type of player and will be extremely valuable for contenders during this upcoming free agency. One of these is reported to be the Golden State Warriors, which is weirdly the new home for Chris Paul as well. [Link to Article]

The new question with a lot of these teams that have two or more players making max/super-max money is if they can even afford rotational players such as Craig under the terms of the new CBA. Especially, with the lack of options such as the MLE to help facilitate signings, this shows the value of having bird rights on existing players.

The only thing preventing Craig from scoring higher in my grade was inconsistencies within the post-season, and sometimes not giving enough production on either side of the ball to move into the elite conversations for a role player. Again, as it says in the name “role-player” these things are not expected, but anyone that goes above and beyond such as a Caleb Martin in the ECF for example would classify for a higher grade.

Still, Craig had a very solid second stint with the Phoenix Suns and would love for him to be back next season as the Suns are desperate for wings after the Durant/Beal trades. Plus Craig is already familiar with the Suns’ system and knows how to complement the core pieces of the team doing all of the little things that do not make the box score. Seriously, every team needs a Torrey Craig no matter the situation.


What grade would you give Torrey Craig for his performance this season?

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  • 25%
    (43 votes)
  • 58%
    (99 votes)
  • 13%
    (22 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
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168 votes total Vote Now

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