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Monty Williams

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Deandre Ayton has had an uneven start to the season, but he's pushing toward a new norm for the Phoenix Suns.

Coming off a playoff run and offseason that didn’t go according to plan, it was only fitting that Deandre Ayton’s start to the 2022-23 campaign followed suit. His widely publicized Game 7 spat with Monty Williams, rampant trade rumors, the fact that he had to sign an offer sheet with another team to force the Phoenix Suns’ hand in contract negotiations, whether he and his coach actually spoke over the summer — all of it loomed overhead (to say nothing of the Robert Sarver investigation). So despite his usual pre-season talk about wanting to take over games and dominate in all facets, the first month of Ayton’s fifth season largely underwhelmed. Through 12 games, he was averaging 14.6 points, a…

Deandre Ayton kept his composure and showed he and the Phoenix Suns have their sights set on bigger goals.

For those curious about the current state of the Phoenix Suns’ long-running rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers, Patrick Beverley body-checking Deandre Ayton in the back Tuesday night served as a pretty clear indication. The Lakers have 17 NBA championships, and the Suns have zero. In those terms, there’s no contest between the two. And yet, watching two of the league’s all-time winningest teams square off in another lopsided fight, it was easy to forget which franchise was which. One side talked trash while cruising to another double-digit victory; the other lost its composure and got ejected for it. It’s not the first time in recent years we’ve seen it from Suns-Lakers, and it’s not the first time the Suns…

The Phoenix Suns are pushing toward consistency with their new starting lineup.

The Phoenix Suns typically withhold judgment on their rotations until they have a 20-game sample size to work with. They’re only 16 games into the new season, and their new starting lineup hasn’t even had seven full games together yet. However, with Chris Paul’s sore right heel set to be re-evaluated later this week, and Cam Johnson out for 1-2 months due to a torn right meniscus, the Suns will be rolling with Cam Payne and Torrey Craig in that starting five for the foreseeable future. The question is, even with such a small sample size, what have we seen from Phoenix’s new starting lineup? The Suns have strived for “stacking solid,” as coach Monty Williams calls it, and the…

Cam Payne is bouncing back with the Phoenix Suns starters, but can he keep it going in a bench role?

Cam Payne and the Phoenix Suns’ bench felt like areas for concern heading into 2022-23, but both have played better than advertised. The problem is, Payne hasn’t entirely been a consistent member of that second unit yet. The reason? Injuries and one public trade request have dealt significant blows to the Suns’ depth, forcing Payne, Torrey Craig and a few others into more prominent roles. In the long-term, that’s certainly not a bad thing. Even in the short-term, Payne has performed admirably in Chris Paul’s stead. Wednesday’s blowout win over the Golden State Warriors was a pristine example of that, as Payne finished with a career-high 29 points and 7 assists while shooting 9-of-17 from the field. https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1593121505587494914?s=20&t=ehDR096QOppxysJ-elB65w “He hooped,”…

Mikal Bridges proved he can be the Phoenix Suns' second option against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The last few years have provided endless discussion about which player should be the first, second and third options on the Phoenix Suns. Devin Booker put the debate over first option to bed last year, establishing himself as the alpha. CP3 settled comfortably into the second spot, leaving the fanbase to argue over Deandre Ayton or Mikal Bridges for the designation of third fiddle. These conversations may seem pointless, but heading into the season, with Paul being 37 and taking an intentional step backward, there were legitimate questions about whether Ayton or Bridges should step up as the second option. Games like Wednesday serve as a reminder that an aggressive Mikal Bridges can end that debate rather quickly. Facing the…

The Phoenix Suns need more out of Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.

Week by week, the Phoenix Suns have suffered blow after blow to their depth. What was once a strongest suit thanks to general manager James Jones’ 3×5 “index card” approach to team-building has become a glaring weakness, due to calculated mistakes over the summer as well as circumstances beyond the Suns’ control. Starting Cam Johnson over Jae Crowder would’ve zapped...

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Cam Johnson's knee injury will have many ripple effects on the Phoenix Suns.

One injury can change the trajectory of an entire season, and Cam Johnson’s right knee injury is no different for the Phoenix Suns. On Sunday morning, the team confirmed that the non-contact injury Johnson suffered in Friday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers was in fact a torn meniscus. The fourth-year forward will undergo surgery, and there is no timetable for his return. https://twitter.com/GeraldBourguet/status/1589303780327448578 Losing a starter on any title contender is a critical blow, but that’s especially true for a Suns squad that was already missing one starting-caliber player heading into the season. Even without the other minor, early-season injuries that are piling up, Phoenix is quickly running short on depth. “He’s a starter for us, so that’s always…

Playing Chris Paul off the ball remains a work in progress for the Phoenix Suns.

Tied at 106 in the fourth quarter, with the shot clock turned off, the Phoenix Suns had a chance to have the final word in Friday night’s game. The Portland Trail Blazers double-teamed Devin Booker, who found an open Mikal Bridges flashing to the middle. Bridges turned, stumbled and wound up traveling. Chris Paul was open on the backside but...

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Cam Johnson is becoming a dangerous part of the Phoenix Suns' offense as a starter.

It was never going to happen overnight, but even before Jae Crowder’s trade request, Cam Johnson was meant for the starting job. He was always poised to thrive in that role on the offensive end, and although it’s taken him a few games to find his footing, the early returns look promising. Tuesday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves put all of that leaping potential on full display, calling back to something coach Monty Williams predicted a few weeks back. “Starting games every night, that’s going to be something that is different, but I think he welcomes that,” Williams said. “I think he’s wanted this for a long time. I’m sure there’s going to be an adjustment, but it’s not like…

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