Over the past two years Phoenix Suns point guard Cameron Payne has embraced a role on the bench and has been a consistent swiss army knife whenever the team called on him to perform.
Due to right heel injury sustained by Chris Paul, Payne was tasked with entering the Suns starting lineup on November 9 and has since never looked back.
Payne has now started the past six games for the Suns. In four out of those six games, Payne has scored over 20 points and led the team in scoring in three of them.
“He is just taking it game-by-game,” Suns shooting guard Devin Booker said. “To me, he’s getting better and better each game. He has some different responsibilities. It’s a new role. We played against a different unit, so it’s all brand new, so we’re telling him to just be aggressive, play his type of basketball and we feed off that energy.”
Payne truly showed off what he is capable of on Wednesday night when he put up 29 points against the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a statement 130-119 win for the Suns.
It's not only the amount of points he has been scoring but Payne’s efficiency is off the charts. In the Suns’ past three games, Payne has shot 50 percent or better from the field which is extremely impressive for a guard who is taking over 10 shots a game.
While Paul is more of an facilitator, Payne has been the far more effective scoring option and has provided the Suns with another reliable offensive weapon to go alongside Booker who has been playing at an MVP level.
Through the course of these six games, the Suns have learned to trust Payne especially in tonight's 116-95 victory over the New York Knicks when they needed him the most.
“He’s just gotten to a place with me where there is a trust level now,” coach Monty Williams said.
“I think it was four minutes left and they cut it to 16 and Book is looking at me and everybody is like ‘Coach.’ And I was like, if we can win this game and bag those minutes, it’ll be great for us, but it was because Cam was on the floor. He’s had this time now with Chris (Paul) being out to get settled in that role and what I don’t want him to do is back off at all when Chris does come back. We want him playing the same way he’s playing right now.”
With Paul expected to be out until at least next week, Payne will have to keep up his consistent play on the court and continue to provide a spark to the Suns’ starting lineup.
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