Welcome to our Phoenix Suns Season in Review series where we do individual PLAYER REVIEWS of each man that contributed in the 2021-22 season. We go through the roster to analyze what went right/wrong for them, and what they can do to get better for next season.
Check out all players covered so far here: 2022 Phoenix Suns Player Reviewsincluding Cameron Johnson, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and more.
This is our last and final, with…
- Position: Guard
- Vitals: 6’1” tall, 183 pounds, 27 years old
- Experience: 7th NBA season
- Stats (regular season): 10.8 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, 4.9 assists per game, 22 minutes played in 58 games (12 starts), 41% shooting from the field.
Regular Season Recap
Payne entered the 2021/2022 season seemingly primed to solidify his place as one of the NBA’s premier bench guards worthy of a big contract and a starting job somewhere, if not with the Phoenix Suns. Those expectations were driven by a highly efficient performance he gave throughout the prior season, as well as his lights-out shooting and seemingly unstoppable slashing attacks in the 2021 playoffs.
But Payne struggled to repeat his past performance, and his effectiveness seemed to fall pretty much across the board. His true shooting percentage dipped to an unacceptably low 50% from 60% the prior season. His assists per 100 possessions climbed to an impressive 10.6 in the 2021/2022 campaign from 9.9 the prior year, but his turnovers also jumped to 3.9 from 2.7 on a per 100 basis.
His shooting was worse from everywhere except the midrange, with his three pointers going down at just 34% in 2021/2022 compared with 44% the season before.
The playoffs were even worse for Payne, unfortunately. He played just 13 minutes per game over 13 games, averaging just 4 points, 2 assists and a turnover. His shooting was just atrocious, as he went 22/74 from the field including a cringeworthy 5/30 from downtown. He bore little resemblance to the confident and extremely effective player we saw a year earlier.
Relive one of Cam’s best performances here:
Despite his struggles shooting the ball, Payne remained a reasonably effective distributor. He lacks the elite vision of his teammate Chris Paul, but he generally makes the correct pass and still mostly took reasonably good care of the ball, if not as well as last year. Most teams would still be pretty happy with 5 assists and 2 turnovers per game from their backup point guard.
Payne’s game seemed to get predictable this season. He has a limited arsenal of offensive moves, relying quite heavily on the same left-handed scoop maneuver and teardrop shots to score in the paint. Opponents seemed more prepared for him this season, and he didn’t manage to do anything to adjust.
This was the first year of a three-year $19 million contract Payne signed with the Suns last summer. He is owed $6 million this coming season and $6.5 million in 2023/2024, though that third season is only guaranteed for $2 million is he released before the season starts.
Time to grade out Cam Payne’s 2021-22 season, postseason included.
- Overall grade as an NBA player: C
- Relative grade to preseason expectations: D