The Phoenix Suns were celebrated in the offseason by rocking Chris Paul’s trade and attracting a hard-nosed Jae Crowder in free agency.
Ahead of playing their 20th game of the season, it became clear that what GM James Jones did from that point on when filling out the roster is also important, especially as the NBA continues through the pandemic. .
He showed up Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
As the Mavs began to gain momentum and opened an 11-point lead with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Suns coach Monty Williams replaced his top three players: Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Paul.
Entered Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, and Frank Kaminsky. In the final five minutes of the quarter, Phoenix shot under five points, establishing a fourth quarter that ended with Booker hitting a winning shot and Luka Doncic missed his last second lift to claim a victory for the Suns.
With Phoenix already downing big man Dario Saric (health and safety protocols) and backup point guard Cam Payne (foot), this was an extreme example of the impact of the usually overlooked roster-building process.
Galloway has followed Moore this offseason by joining the Suns on veterans minimum contracts late in the free agency process. Maybe it felt redundant for a backcourt that already included re-signed Jevon Carter.
Now this duo have played the save minutes of the last three games.
“They just know how to play. Whether it’s a zone defense or a man, I think they have experience, ”Williams said Tuesday. “You can watch these guys communicate on the floor, they know what to say and while they’re not that quick on some games, they’re usually in the right place.
“They managed to organize us. The ball movement with this group and the movement of the players with Langston, E’Twaun and Frank (Kaminsky)… we want to continue to develop that. These guys give us a big boost when they come into the game. They get great shots on offense.
Moore, who has entered the rotation in the last four games, has taken on the duties of initiating the game and brings enough mobility on the rebound.
In Williams’ eyes, Moore, who has a float game and can hit an open three, missed a few too many shots because he’s so focused on getting the offense in order.
Galloway, who entered the league six years ago, is becoming a pure off-the-ball shooter.
He’s blasting his career shooting averages (40% overall and 37% at three-point range) out of the water so far by connecting on 49% of his shots and the same percentage at depth.
Abdel Nader, who joined the Suns in trading Paul from Oklahoma City, recently gave Phoenix a wing cut, and Williams made sure on Tuesday not to forget Kaminsky when reviewing his second unit. who carried more than his weight.
The big man the Suns haven’t re-signed this offseason and picked up after being dropped by the Sacramento Kings before the regular season started is certainly more at ease right now. Playing almost exclusively as a save center after finishing last season doing the same has given him continuity.
“Just speaking of defense, I know what places to be, I know our covers,” Kaminsky said. “It’s something that I do better and better in my career. It was a bit difficult at first, especially last year. It’s a different set of covers. “
Three games against the Golden State Warriors, Kaminsky had two assists before a triple-double, a sign of his role as an offensive initiator who passed the ball from the strong side to the weak side.
It became a similar role that Saric forged in the bubble to end last season.
It is likely that Saric will reprise this role in the next few days once he’s cleared to play. The same goes for Payne, who was playing at a high level before an ankle and foot injury. This duo and Carter, who is in good health, are at least giving the Suns options.
Williams can’t mind that Jones has provided him with such depth.
Asked Tuesday about Carter’s current role and how he could work his way into the rotation, the head coach put it right, “It’s really hard to play so many guys.