Championships are usually won on the defensive end and followed closely by superstar players that help make the difference, but are team role players more important than its superstars?
This is a valid question when it comes to the newly constructed Phoenix Suns after adding star Forward Kevin Durant.
Can Durant and the other stars Devin Booker, and Chris Paul get the job done by themselves predominately? most likely the answer to that question is a resounding “NO”
Championship teams will always have a star or two but always will need a supporting cast that complements them in all aspects of the game.
Guys that get the hustle plays, timely shot-making, along with big rebounds that get the ball back in the hands of the stars. Role players’ chemistry is made over a course of time of playing together and takes a selfless attitude to know when and where to take shots away from the Star players.
Previous Champions all have had a deep bench of these role players that made the difference in winning the title, without them the stars will have a heavier load to carry the team all by themselves through four series.
The question for the Phoenix Suns going into the Playoffs is, do they have enough of a supporting cast to aid the stars through an entire run to a Championship?
Much like the Golden State Warriors, who had their stars Curry, Thompson, Green, and Wiggins, but it was the Kevon Looney’s and Jordan Poole’s that made the difference in the end.
The Suns have Terrence Ross, TJ Warren, Ish Wainwright, and Laundry Shamet to make things easier on the stars, not to mention DeAndre Ayton who could be the X-factor role player to tie it all together.
Is this enough? Can those shooters bring the deadly shooting that is required to take the game-plan attention away from the stars? This is the million-dollar question that is still unanswered.
Planet Orange has yet to play together in a high-stakes meaningful game against the elite competition since the arrival of Durant, and their first-round opponent will be the ultimate challenge.
The challenge will not be that much of a challenge for the superstars that are comfortable in these high stake situations, but the role players tend to get the “dear in headlights” look during the playoff’s intense moments.
The good thing is, that role players have a tendency to perform very well at home, and the Suns are at home the first two games of the series.
Ish Wainwright was on a local radio station answering a question about taking shots from the star players “Those guys just tell us to shoot” Durant was said to say (paraphrasing) “Don’t load the barrow and then don’t pull the trigger” in other words donate shy to let it fly with confidence.
The Suns role players will have to feed off the confidence of their superstars, particularly on the road in hostile environments.
Phoenix did not play their stars in the final two games of the regular season, and this may have been a sign for the coaching staff that the chemistry was as good as it was going to get without risking injury to get further continuity.
The real season gets underway on Sunday against the Clippers, who have stars and a host of proven role players that shoot the ball at a high level, it will be vital for the Suns to match that capacity and not rely fully on its superstars every game through a seven-game series.
The superstars should be the team’s most important shot-takers and also closers to get victories, while the role players keep up the momentum and energy allowing the stars to rest and regenerate during a long physical playoff game.
This matchup with the Clippers is not going to be easy, and it’s a good test right out of the gate facing a team that is without one of its stars for at least the first two games.
The Clippers roll players will be scrappy and defiant and talk trash to get under the skin of the Suns star players, and the Suns roll players have to be the enforcers to backup the stars which will allow them to concentrate on more important things like finishing a game strong.
Head Coach Monty Williams will have to push all of the right buttons that will help ignite the chemistry of the role players in the resting times of the superstars, the right mix of reserves will have to keep up the scoring and energy of the building and make it very difficult for the clippers role players to perform on the road.