4 Reasons the Phoenix Suns are better with Johnson back in the team
Although he has only participated in three of the Phoenix Suns’ four straight wins since returning from a knee injury, Cameron Johnson’s positive impact on the team is evident.
For the past six weeks, the Phoenix Suns have struggled as a team as injuries have taken a toll on the team. With Johnson, Chris Paul and Devin Booker all missing significant action, the bouts shouldn’t come as a surprise. What may come as a surprise, however, is how much better Phoenix is without Booker once Johnson is back in action. Cam brings to the table several things that make Phoenix a better, more complete team.
Cam can light up the basket with his shot
Even though Johnson only had a stroke in one of his three previous games, Cam can always find ways to score for Phoenix. In his first game against Brooklyn, Johnson didn’t shoot very well and went 4 of 10 off the bench. However, Johnson attacked the basket hard and earned nine free throws, all of which he pocketed to finish with 19 points.
Most recently against Charlotte, Johnson was en-fuego, leaving 9 of 11 and scoring 24 points in 18 minutes of action. Johnson didn’t even get to the line against the Bobcats, but his six threes made the difference. The ability to score in multiple ways and serve as a primary scoring threat when Booker is still out greatly improves the suns and pressure on players like Mikal Bridges.
Johnson makes teams pay for going to double low
In today’s NBA, player athleticism makes distance from the ground extremely important. Johnson is a player who can do that in spades for the Suns. As his hot shooting against Charlotte shows, teams will pay for trying to help Johnson.
The resulting space that Johnson’s threat adds to the ground helps Phoenix’ big men have more leeway. Despite Deandre Ayton being injured, there’s little doubt Ayton will benefit if teams can’t double him down with a player down.
As the regular season moves into the playoffs, that extra half-step space will make a difference when the game slows down, and Johnson can help provide it.
Johnson delivers D and threes for the Suns
Coming from North Carolina, most people saw Johnson as a three-and-D wing. The reality is that Johnson offers three-pointers on offense and defense. Cam has a good shot with the basketball, and on defense, Johnson can often defend three positions, making him a valuable defender. Johnson can keep most wings in front of him while still having the strength and tenacity to defend seven-foot off the post.
Johnson won’t be easily confused with Ben Wallace defensively, and he’s not a contender for Defensive Player of the Year like Bridges. Still, Johnson’s ability to cycle the ball on and off defensively makes Phoenix a strong, more balanced team off the ball.
Protecting the basketball is Johnson’s priority
Perhaps one of Johnson’s best and most overlooked traits is his ability to protect the basketball. He should not be misunderstood as a playmaker. However, Johnson has control of the ball to get it on the court and provide a competent ball handler when play is on the line.
Johnson has only had three turnovers in the three games since his return and has averaged less than one turnover per game. This ability to protect the ball and make smart decisions makes Phoenix better.
The Suns aren’t back to full strength yet, and they won’t be until their best player – Booker – returns. Meanwhile, Johnson’s return should continue to give the team a boost as Phoenix prepares for a big distance run.