GM James Jones: Suns F Cam Johnson proved something vs. T-Wolves

Nov 2, 2022, 3:54 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2022, 7:44 pm
Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson drives as Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32...

Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson drives as Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

It was clear from the get-go Tuesday that the Phoenix Suns wanted to make the Minnesota Timberwolves’ jumbo frontcourt become a disadvantage.

And seven games into being named the starter this season, Suns forward Cam Johnson helped that happen by passing arguably his toughest test yet since taking over for former starter Jae Crowder.

That certainly didn’t surprise Phoenix general manager James Jones, who with head coach Monty Williams obviously believed in Johnson taking on a more significant role this season.

“With greater opportunity, you expect better performances, and Cam has grown every year,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Wednesday. “When he’s been given opportunities, he’s responded. Last night was the ideal opportunity. It was a situation where he was playing against two really good frontcourt players.

“The expectation would be he would struggle, but I think he showed people he’s a better basketball player than people give him credit for.”

Johnson scored 29 points on 17 shots, going 10 of 17 from the field with seven makes from three. Phoenix targeted Towns by making him chase the smaller Johnson off the ball.

Chris Paul’s first five assists and half of his 12 total went to Johnson buckets.

According to tracking, 12 of Johnson’s 17 shots on Wednesday were uncontested. Nine of his 10 makes were assisted.

It was a masterclass game plan by head coach Monty Williams, especially for a team leaning on Devin Booker more this season and trying — at least in the early portions of the regular season — to avoid putting the scoring load on Paul.

“There are only a handful or there are a limited number of true superstars,” Jones said of how he views NBA roster-building. “Yet everyone tries to pursue or turn players into superstars. The only alternative is to build a really good team around your superstar or superstars … there are really good players in this league who we don’t consider superstars for whatever reason, but they get the job done.

“My thought has always been, if you don’t have that guy, which not everyone does, have those guys.”

For the Suns, Johnson is certainly one of them.

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GM James Jones: Suns F Cam Johnson proved something vs. T-Wolves