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Suns’ Williams ‘blown away’ by Cam Johnson since returning from break

Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) drives as Golden State Warriors guard Jeremy Pargo (20) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Phoenix. The Suns won 112-106. (AP Photo/Matt York)

When the new version of full practices get underway for the Phoenix Suns in Orlando later this month, they will have gone over four months since last playing 5-on-5.

That’s right around the length of a typical offseason, so something we as watchers of the basketball might be a little naive to is the possibility that some players improved over this break.

Suns head coach Monty Williams has already noticed that in his youngsters.

“It feels like guys like Cam (Johnson) and Ty (Jerome) and Jevon (Carter) and all of our young guys have had that first summer away from the game where they’ve had a chance to marinate and think and reflect on their season,” he said Wednesday. “They come back better just from being away from it for a short bit. Looking at their own film, and numbers and talking to their agents and family members — they come back better.”

Johnson is the one guy that jumps out for Williams in the limited time he’s been able to see workouts at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“The first day when I saw him when he got back in town, I was blown away at the changes that he’s already made in his body,” he said. “He looks like he added some muscle.”

It goes beyond a physical transformation that Williams is seeing too in the rookie wing.

“Cam is one of those guys who seems like he’s just gotten better from being away from the game for about three, almost four months and having a chance to work on some things and come back with more confidence,” he said.

That’s great news for the Suns, who are perhaps the team in Orlando that is relying the most on younger, more inexperienced players.

That need has increased even further for Phoenix with wing Kelly Oubre Jr. not playing. Some of his minutes are expected to be picked up by Johnson in an elevated role.

It’s hopefully something that goes beyond a talking point for the Suns and is a legitimate advantage for them going into the eight games.

“It’s like a new season because we’ve been gone for so long,” Williams said.

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