James Jones, Suns general manager (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)
As Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones worked over the offseason to build the current team, his focus wasn’t to nab a single elite player.
Instead, he wanted to find a group of players who would work cohesively and build chemistry with young leaders Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.
“A lot of times, you compare players with the greats that are currently in the NBA,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Wednesday. “There’s only so many elite superstar level players. They cycle in, they cycle out.
“You have the guys at the top right now that are dominating and there’s the younger crop of players that are coming up, but you don’t have 40 or 50 dominant players in the league at one time so it’s impossible just by sheer numbers to think that you’ll be able to compete night in and night out with just your two versus the other teams top two. It’s a losing game if you take it that way.
“So we’ve decided that we have some young good players, but if we can have strength in numbers we’ll give ourselves a shot against the teams like the Lakers that have two high level exceptional players.”
Four games into the season, the decision is paying off.
The Suns showed off their collective relentless offensive attack in a dominant 111-86 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night.
More importantly, the team showed the impact of having depth on the bench. For the third time in four games, the Suns bench hit the 40-point mark.
Cameron Johnson recorded 18 points, second to Jae Crowder’s team-high 21, while Cameron Payne notched 13 and Dario Saric added 10.
“I think you see these guys perform well together,” Jones said. “If you put them out there in isolation and you just say ‘Cam, we need you to carry us’ or ‘Langston, we need you to be big for us tonight and carry the team,’ they’re not as successful.
“When we play the way that we want to play, which is every guy is involved, everyone contributing, every possession being a possession where you individually can contribute to winning, you see these guys work together. They work well and you have performances like we had last night.”
As the Suns hit the road for back-to-back games looking to capture wins against the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets, Jones hopes to see the offensive power and chemistry continue to build.
“I do know our guys are looking to be relentless offensively – attacking the glass, getting to the paint, getting free throws,” he said. “So if I had to say, our focus right now is just to be in attack mode and put pressure on the defense.”