It is hard to put a stamp on Ish Wainwright as either the fan favorite or a bench guy you only want to see playing garbage minutes. Or maybe he could be both? Every team needs their locker room guy, and morale booster, right?
Last year there were games that had you thinking, maybe he could play some big minutes in the playoffs? Then there were games where you only wanted to see him waving a towel from the sideline!
2022-23 Season Recap
The season started with the heartbreak of Ish losing his father on October 31st of 2022, sidelining him for almost a month to start the season. To continue to play out the remaining season shows the strength and resilience he has, remaining attentive when called upon.
We never saw the breakout game we were waiting for last season. There were hopes that Ish could play a big role for the Suns after the Kevin Durant trade, shipping Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson away to Brooklyn. It never happened.
You wouldn’t dive into the box score after a game for a player like Ish. His play, when good, comes with hustle and also shooting the corner three with Deandre Ayton passes you the ball.
Yes, at times, DA would scream at Ish to shoot when the ball came his way. At first, I wanted the DA to pick on someone his own size. But this was probably just a way to get Ish motivated and to feel like he belonged on the floor more.
During the 2022-23 season, Ish averaged 15.3 minutes per game, which actually seems higher than what I remember. In the playoffs it was a different story, that was barely written and not worth mentioning.
On February 24, 2023, Ish found himself as a full-time player, given a regular contract with the Phoenix Suns. Currently, he will be making a little less than $2M this year. By the sounds of that, this a prove-it year for him. And on a contending team surrounded by stars, how much more motivation does the guy need?
It is not the motivation that will keep Ish from earning minutes, it will be the competition.
At 6’6”, 250lbs, Ish’s strength is his just that...his strength. He may not use it as much, but every game broadcasted on ESPN or TNT will let you know he played college football at Baylor!
I can see Ish as a corner three-point shooting threat and in any line up, the one guy left open and the defense is counting on him to make the shot. There might be games where Ish hits those back to back corner pocket threes ending a 12-0 run leading to a opposing teams timeout.
It’s tough to point out any kind of weaknesses with a guy like Ish. The reason being, we haven’t seen enough playing time from him. I think it’s important for him to get some really solid minutes and the only way for that to happen is due to injury from another player.
The major thing that he struggled with last year was just consistent and understanding the offense. A lot head scratching plays came on his behalf.
His size should be used more and you would like to see him become a little more physical. If not, then the 3-point % needs to be over 35% and deadly from the corner.
One Key Factor
Injuries, like I mentioned before, this is the only opportunity that I can see is getting minutes. Unless there’s some thing that happens in training camp unless there’s something that happens in practice where is it seen as a guy that can contribute on a consistent basis.
Until that happens, I don’t feel like we will see Ish this coming season as much as we hope for last season.
The Suns added plenty of forwards to “what it looks like” a position less basketball team. Here are the additions:
- Toumani Camara (Rookie)
- Keita Bates-Diop
- Yuta Watanabe
- Bol Bol
I would rank the players listed above over Ish for the pure reason of excitement and expectation.
I don’t know what to expect from Ish. The only thing is that he will show up and he will make the most of his opportunity. If having Ish as our “worst” forward on the team, I can live with that.
Here is to Ish, proving us wrong next season!