Should Phoenix Suns start Cam Johnson or Landry Shamet in place of injured Devin Booker?

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Suns coach Monty Williams has options on who to start in place of Devin Booker, who is expected to miss multiple games with a left hamstring strain.

The Suns (18-3) will play their first game this season without him on Thursday night against Detroit (4-17) as they look to win a franchise-record 18th straight game.

Cameron Payne can play the two off Chris Paul to give the Suns two ball handlers and free up the backup point guard to be aggressive offensively.

Paul can also guard bigger perimeter players.

Elfrid Payton started for the Knicks last season at the one. Having Paul off the ball isn't the norm, but he's done it and can certainly go for big offensive numbers.

With this look, Payton, a standout defender, can hold his own against shooting guards.

However, Williams will likely go with Cam Johnson or Landry Shamet to start for Booker, who leads the Suns in scoring at 23.3 points a game.

"It's our job as a collective; it's not my job to fill Devin's shoes," said Shamet, who joined the team on a draft-day trade that sent Jevon Carter and a first-round pick to Brooklyn.

Shamet scored nine points in Tuesday's win over the Warriors. His 3 gave Phoenix a 102-92 lead with 56.1 seconds left.

"It's not Chris' job to do that," Shamet continued. "It's our job collectively as a group to find a way to make up what he brings to us on a night-to-night basis. We did it the other night and that's something to build on."

Booker left Tuesday's game midway through the first half after grabbing at his left leg on a drive that drew a foul on Otto Porter Jr.

Johnson started the second half for Booker.

Nov 30, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Landry Shamet (14) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors forward Otto Porter Jr. (32) at Footprint Center.
Nov 30, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Landry Shamet (14) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors forward Otto Porter Jr. (32) at Footprint Center.

"We play the same way," said Johnson, who scored 14 points on Tuesday. "They were defending us a certain way so it didn't change anything that we were doing. I had played with that lineup earlier in the game."

Johnson has been mostly a four coming off the bench, but he's at the three in a lineup with Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges and Paul.

"The bigger thing is who's guarding you is what makes whatever you're doing a little different," Johnson said. "Coach will just change it sometimes on the sheet when he's drawing it up. It really doesn't matter the numbers, especially in today's game. It's more about who's guarding you."

However, Bridges slides to shooting guard with Johnson at the three whereas he stays at small forward in a lineup with Shamet and whoever the point guard is.

The key to all of this is Phoenix's ability to switch everything. Ranked second in defensive rating behind Golden State, Suns players take pride in being able to contain offenses regardless of who is guarding whom.

The Suns play Friday night at Golden State (18-3) in a rematch that ESPN will now televise, as the network switched from the Lakers-Clippers matchup.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Should Suns start Johnson or Shamet in place of injured Devin Booker?

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