Suns’ Ish Wainright embracing ‘energy guy’ role as injuries start to add up

Jan 26, 2022, 8:09 AM | Updated: 8:23 am

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Through the course of an 82-game NBA season, injuries are bound to stack up.

Just past the halfway mark of the 2021-22 season, the Phoenix Suns are starting to see names pile up on their injury report.

Heading into Wednesday night’s matchup against the Utah Jazz, the Suns will be without centers Deandre Ayton (right ankle sprain) and Javale McGee (left knee soreness), as well as forward Jae Crowder (left wrist contusion) and guard Cam Payne (right wright sprain).

Amidst the pile-up of injuries, the Suns and head coach Monty Williams have had to turn to the reserves. Of those coming off the bench, forward Ish Wainright is making the most of the opportunity.

On Tuesday, Wainright told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo that he’s embraced being an “energy guy” for the Suns as his role has increased due to injuries.

“No matter how long I’m in the game, just try to impact the game however I can in that period,” he said.

With the absence of Crowder, Wainright projects as someone who can take a chunk of those minutes. The forward said he’s ready for the moment after observing the standard set by the Suns’ starters.

“It’s really about watching the guys,” Wainright said. “Watching Jae and what he does. He may not score every time, but he gets the ball moving … I put myself in his shoes.”

The forward lives by the phrase “if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” so he’s prepared whenever asked upon. He knows Williams is always changing the rotations on his bench and some nights he may get more looks than others.

In Monday night’s win against the Jazz, Wainright played just under 10 minutes off the bench, his fifth-highest total in minutes this season. On Jan. 16 against the Detroit Pistons, he played a season-high 15 minutes and change.

While his role has increased over the last few weeks, Wainright knows nothing in this league is promised. He’s just enjoying his time.

“I’m sitting in my hotel in Utah looking out the window thinking, ‘I’m actually in the NBA playing games.’ … I’ve made it and now I’m trying to stay.”

The Suns tip off against the Jazz on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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