Suns Injury Update: Devin Booker Tests Positive for COVID-19; Cameron Payne Returns to the Court

Devin Booker Tests Positive for COVID-19, Cameron Payne Returns from Injury

Devin Booker, the talented shooting guard from the Phoenix Suns, is facing an unspecified amount of time off the court after testing positive for COVID-19. As a result, he has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocol. However, there is some good news for the Suns as backup point guard Cameron Payne is set to return after missing the last 16 games due to a wrist injury.

Booker’s Impact and Statistics

Booker has been a key player for the Suns this season, contributing an average of 25.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. His exceptional performance ranks him as the 11th overall scorer in the NBA. Losing Booker will undoubtedly have an impact on the Suns’ gameplay, especially considering his offensive prowess.

Challenging Game Ahead Against the Trail Blazers

Unfortunately, the Suns will be without their starting backcourt as they face the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix. Chris Paul, the experienced point guard and floor general, will be absent for the remainder of the regular season due to a fractured thumb. This absence poses a significant challenge for the Suns as they strive to maintain their position as the best team in the NBA.

Suns Dominance Despite Setbacks

Although the Suns have recently lost two consecutive games, their overall performance throughout the season has been impressive. With a record of 49 wins and 12 losses, they currently hold the top spot in the Western Conference standings, leading the second-place Golden State Warriors by 6.5 games. This dominant position puts them in a favorable position to secure the number one seed in the Western Conference and gain home-court advantage in the playoffs.

According to the latest update by DraftKings, the Suns are considered the frontrunners with +380 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship. Close behind are the Golden State Warriors with +450 odds, followed by the Brooklyn Nets with +475 odds.

Monty Williams’ Strategic Decisions and Cameron Payne’s Return

With Booker and Paul sidelined, coach Monty Williams has chosen to implement a significant lineup change. Since the All-Star Break, Williams has opted for a larger starting lineup, featuring Deandre Ayton as the center and three forwards alongside him. This decision provides the team with a different dynamic and the opportunity to exploit their size advantage.

The Impact of Cameron Payne

Thankfully for the Suns, the return of Cameron Payne injects much-needed energy and positivity into the team. Known for his contagious enthusiasm, Payne has often played a crucial role in rallying both the crowd and his teammates. As a solid contributor, averaging 10.5 points and 3.6 assists per game, he possesses the confidence and skill set necessary to fill the void left by Booker and Paul.

Teammate Torrey Craig shared his admiration for Payne, highlighting the positive impact he has on the court, stating, “Payne’s energy is contagious. He likes to get the crowd into the game, gets his teammates going. He plays with a level of confidence that teams need.”

Cam Johnson’s Adaptable Role

With the adjustment in the starting lineup, small forward Cam Johnson has had the opportunity to demonstrate his versatility. Typically part of the Suns’ highly effective second unit, Johnson has been contributing an average of 12.3 points per game off the bench. However, in his recent starts, he showcased an even higher level of performance, averaging 19.6 points per game. In a game against the Utah Jazz, he scored an impressive 23 points, including four successful 3-pointers.

Now that Payne has returned, Johnson can revert to his role as the Sixth Man, bringing stability and scoring prowess to the second unit. Coach Williams recognizes the importance of this transition in maintaining a fluid team rotation, stating, “It allows for the bench to have a bit more rhythm. It puts Cam Johnson back into his role on the bench, and now he can be the anchor out there as far as scoring. He’s a guy who has been in our rotation and knows what we’re doing.”

Increased Opportunities for Backup Guards

With Booker unavailable, Aaron Holiday and Landry Shamet, the backup guards, are expected to see an increase in playing time. Holiday currently contributes an average of 7.8 points per game, while Shamet adds 7.3 points per game. Their expanded roles will be crucial in maintaining the team’s overall performance and filling the void left by Booker’s absence.

Upcoming Challenges: Trail Blazers, Knicks, and Bucks

The Suns face a series of challenging games in their upcoming schedule. Tonight, they will host the Portland Trail Blazers (25-36) at home, followed by a game against the New York Knicks (25-36) on Friday.

Rematch with the Milwaukee Bucks

On Sunday, the Suns will face the Milwaukee Bucks (37-27) in a highly anticipated rematch of the 2021 NBA Finals. In their previous encounter, the Suns secured a dominant 131-107 victory, outplaying the defending champions by a considerable margin. However, this time, Booker’s availability is uncertain due to his COVID-19 protocols. If he is unable to participate, the Suns will face a challenging task against a strong and determined Bucks team.

Three-Game Road Trip with Magic and Heat

Following their game against the Bucks, the Suns embark on a three-game road trip. They will first face the Orlando Magic (15-47), currently holding the worst record in the league. This matchup provides the Suns an opportunity to solidify their position as the superior team.

Next, the Suns travel to Miami to take on the Eastern Conference leaders, the Miami Heat (41-21). This game will undoubtedly test the Suns’ resilience and serve as a measure of their competitiveness against the top teams in the league.


The absence of Devin Booker due to COVID-19 protocols poses a significant challenge for the Phoenix Suns as they strive to maintain their dominant position in the NBA. However, with the return of Cameron Payne and the strategic adjustments made by coach Monty Williams, the Suns aim to overcome this hurdle and continue their successful run.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long will Devin Booker be out due to COVID-19?

As of now, the duration of Devin Booker’s absence is unspecified. He will be required to follow the NBA’s health and safety protocols before returning to the court.

2. Will Chris Paul be available for the playoffs?

No, unfortunately, Chris Paul is out for the remainder of the regular season due to a fractured thumb. The Suns will have to navigate the playoffs without his leadership and floor presence.

3. How has Cam Johnson performed in the starting lineup?

In his recent starts, Cam Johnson has showcased impressive performances, averaging 19.6 points per game. He has been a valuable asset, contributing significantly to the team’s scoring output.

4. Who will step up in Devin Booker’s absence?

With Devin Booker sidelined, the Suns will rely on players like Cameron Payne, Aaron Holiday, and Landry Shamet to fill the void and provide necessary scoring and playmaking contributions.

5. Can the Suns maintain their position as the number one seed in the Western Conference?

The Suns currently hold a comfortable lead in the Western Conference standings. With their strong roster and resilient performance, they have a good chance of securing the top seed and earning home-court advantage in the playoffs.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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