The Phoenix Suns are blazing from 3-point range.
Six players were shooting 40 percent or better from way downtown, led by Damion Lee’s absurd 49 percent, heading into Friday night's game against Houston.
These guys are so hot that Al McCoy might have to record himself saying “Shazam!” just to save his voice for the playoffs.
This good news leads us to even better news: Goofy sportswriters such as myself can instigate and hype up an intramural beef that can keep the Suns intense as they blister through the regular season, ensuring that that don’t flame out in the playoffs again.
Think about it, all the great teams need a little controversy these days. Kobe and Shaq feuded. Draymond and KD feuded. And LeBron had enough Twitter beef that all of his teams had to worry about their cholesterol as they marched toward the Finals.
So, as soon as Cam Johnson comes back, he should organize a charity event where the Suns have a shootout to see which of his teammates comes with him to All-Star weekend for the main event 3-point shootout on Saturday night. (Assuming he’s good to go by then.)
Johnson isn’t a trash talker. He might be one of the nicest guys in professional sports. But he shoots like a sniper. Same goes for his good-guy “twin,” Mikal Bridges.
This season, Bridges is shooting about 42 percent from deep range, flirting with the best average of his career. He shot nearly 43 percent two seasons ago, helping the Suns get to the playoffs.
And really, it’s not fair that Bridges gets to shoot from the same 3-point line as everybody else. His arms are so long, he should have to stand a foot farther back, even if this means he has to shoot corner 3’s from behind the bench.
Ish Wainright has an advantage, too. He’s shooting 46 percent from 3. His advantage is that he doesn’t have as many attempts, but making every other 3-pointer you shoot is impressive, even if you only shoot two. Wainright is 6-for-13, this year.
His accuracy is a godsend for backboards around the league. Wainright played football at Baylor in college and is so strong that any errant shot has a chance of cracking the glass.
He wasn’t much of a shooter in college, even though he’s from Kansas City, and everybody knows that guys from the town who grew up reading Greg Moore in The Kansas City Star were imbued with a supernatural ability to make jumpers nearly as well as they guy who wrote the words that kept them riveted to the sports pages. (I have no idea whether Wainright read a single thing I wrote back in those days, but I can shoot.)
Landry Shamet is from KC, too. And he’s hitting 40 percent of his 3-point attempts. (He probably didn’t read me in The Star, either.)
The guy Shamet has been subbing in for, Cameron Payne, is shooting 38.9 percent from 3-point range, which is close enough for me to call it .400.
No wonder Monty Williams was the Western Conference coach of the month. Every coach looks like a genius with shooters like that. It also shows why the Suns are No. 1 in the West, even with Chris Paul missing more than half the season so far with a foot injury, and Johnson missing about two-thirds of the year with a bum knee.
The team’s torrid touch also goes to show the effectiveness of the Suns’ scouting and development staff. They’re finding guys who can fill specific roles, then teaching them — often on the job — how to best fill those roles. It will help these guys whether they stay with the Suns or move on to another team.
We’re two-thirds of the way through a column on 3-point shooting, and we haven’t even talked about King Booker. This will be my nickname for Devin as long as the dude is the NBA’s uncrowned MVP.
(Don’t get me started on Luka Doncic. I love his game. He’s the closest thing we have to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird with his mix of scoring, rebounding and court vision. But his squad is scuffling along at .500. The MVP should be the best player from the best team, and that’s Book or Boston’s Jason Tatum.)
Booker, who won the 3-point shootout at All-Star weekend in 2018 and finished second last year, is shooting a relatively cool 38 percent, but he hit 6-for-7 as he matador-ed the Bulls for 51 points Wednesday.
So, here’s hoping that the Suns spend plenty of time burning each other about who’s the best shooter at practice and in the locker room and on the team jet.
If they can find a way to keep up their competitive fire, it could be the key to setting small goals on the way toward trying to accomplish their big goal next June.
Every good team needs a little controversy, and how much fun would it be if the Suns spent all their free time fussing about who’s the best at tickling the twine from long range?
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Feel the heat: Phoenix Suns on fire from 3-point line