With Jae Crowder having effectively played his last game for the Phoenix Suns, there’ll be plenty of players keen to step up to fill his vacated role in 2022-23.
Crowder’s three-and-D style will be difficult to replace, with many of the Suns current backup options displaying specialty skill sets on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Regardless, Crowder’s minutes have to go somewhere in what will only increase the competitiveness of training camp and preseason.
The loss of Jae Crowder leaves a significant hole in the Phoenix Suns rotation, providing increased opportunity to current Suns players.
While the Suns will be hoping they can find an adequate replacement in any potential Crowder trade, here are three players on the current roster who could help fill the void.
1. Cameron Johnson
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. The fourth-year man was going to take over Crowder’s role anyway, one of the reported reasons as to Crowder’s desire to leave Phoenix. But if the veteran forward had been willing to play a bench role, then Johnson’s minutes may have still been limited to less than 30 per game.
Now, with Crowder out of the picture, the Suns lack of like-for-like alternatives may force head coach Monty Williams into playing Johnson for 32-35 minutes per game. If that’s the case, then the 26-year-old could be heading for an even bigger rise in production than previously expected.
2. Dario Saric
On his return from injury, the Croatia’s role was always going to be a cause for speculation? How would Williams use him between the four and five positions? In Crowder’s absence, the answer to that question may become evident very early on.
He’s a completely different type of player, though he does provide the same level of three-point shooting as Crowder. When evaluating the genuine power-forward alternatives behind Johnson, Saric appears the most likely to benefit through extra minutes.
3. Ish Wainright
This may seem a strange choice given he’s on a two-way contract, but if the Suns are looking for the most equivalent player stylistically, then Wainright is the man. It’s actually something he himself referred to during media day.
There’s a good reason for it – the two players share similar body shapes, can provide hard-nosed defense, and can shoot from the perimeter although not always consistently. If Phoenix don’t want to rock the boat with their overall style of play, then Wainright presents as the player who can fill the Crowder gap.