This is either a picture of one of the biggest +/- differentials or one of the best point guard rotations in the NBA, depending on which month you're talking about.

It has taken most of the offseason, but we are nearing the end of the MySynergySports.com review of the 2011-12 Phoneix Suns. Only one position group remains, and it is the position that has defined the Suns for the last eight years: point guards. First up is offense.

Center: Offense - Defense

Power Forward: Offense - Defense

Small Forward: Offense - Defense

Shooting Guard: Offense - Defense


In my last installment, I included a poll asking whether I should take a look at our old (pun intended) starting point guard or our new one. Goran Dragic was the overwhelming winner of the poll, but the comments were more balanced. However, after a conversation with NashMV3 I was reminded that this is a series reviewing the 2011-12 Phoenix Suns. Steve Nash was on that team, while Goran Dragic was not. For those that wish to make a clean break from the Nash era and have no interest in being reminded about him, feel free to skip over that part of this story. For those that are excited about Dragic, stay tuned to the Bright Side.

First, allow me to explain in more detail the numbers I looked at. Here's a key for the terms Synergy uses:

Synergy Stat Definitions


PPP – Points Per Play. A "Play" is always ended with a shot attempt, turnover or getting to the free throw line. PPP is the player’s total points, excluding technical free throws, divided by their total plays.

Rank – This is where a player or team’s PPP ranks amongst their league peers. A player must have at least 25 plays for a given category in order to qualify for a league ranking.

%SF - Percent Shooting Foul. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team drew a shooting foul.

%TO – Percent Turnover. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team turns the ball over.

%Score – Percent Score. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team scores at least 1 point, including any resulting free throws.

So these numbers track the raw results. They don't factor in everything, which is where the interpretation begins and where watching the games live helps.

The offensive categories are Isolation, Pick-and-Roll Ball Handler, Post-Up, Pick-and-Roll Roll Man, Spot-Up, Off Screen, Hand-Off, Cut, Offensive Rebound, Transition, All Other Plays and Overall. On defense, the categories are the same minus the Cut, Offensive Rebound, Transition and All Other Plays categories as there aren't really any individual defenders assigned on these plays.

With that out of the way, let's dive into the numbers.

Steve Nash

Everybody knows Steve Nash is a pick-and-roll point guard. That is who he is and that is what he does best. So it should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that 60.9% of Nash's possessions were pick-and-rolls. As a pick-and-roll ball-handler, Nash shot 53.6 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3-point range. He did turn the ball over on 23.8 percent of those plays, but he still finished at 0.92 PPP and was ranked 28th overall. Keep in mind this was only his scoring and does not factor in his assists at all, which is the best part of Nash's game.

No other play type is even close, as second on the list is isolation at only 64 total plays all year. He showcased his typical selective shooting and trademark efficiency with or without a pick, as he shot 51.1 percent from the field and scored 0.89 PPP (rank 33). He can't do it as often as he used to, but the old man still has some moves.

Third is transition at 60 total plays. Nash wasn't so good as a scorer on the break with a 33.3 turnover percentage and a 0.93 PPP. That was ranked 252nd overall. He still shot pretty well, but the fact that he turned it over so much and was usually the guy starting the break rather than finishing it hurt his PPP.

When Hedo Turkoglu was brought in, the plan was to put the ball in his hands some to let Nash, one of the greatest shooters of all time, act more as a spot-up shooter. Based on Nash's numbers, that might have been a good idea on paper. He spotted up on 49 plays and scored 1.27 PPP, which was ranked 11th overall. However, as the 60.9% percent pick-and-roll number suggests, that's not how Nash plays. He wants the ball.

Nash's sharpshooting was also evident in his 63 plays running off screens or taking hand-offs, as he converted 30 of his 51 shot attempts.

Overall, Nash scored 0.92 PPP and was ranked 164th. He shot over 50 percent from the field and was just shy of 40 percent from 3-point range, but he also turned the ball over on 26.2 percent of his possessions. Nash drew a shooting foul on only 1.6 percent of his plays, though, which means he didn't get to use his 90 percent free throw accuracy too often. Too many turnovers, too few free throws and a relatively low number of 3-point makes are the reason for his fairly average overall offensive ranking.

Also interesting to note is that the decline in Nash's game is pretty evident by looking at his last three seasons. His fouls drawn, field goal attempts an 3-point field goal attempts all have been decreasing while his turnovers have gone up. He's also became far more reliant on the pick-and-roll to get his shot off as his percentage of plays as the pick-and-roll ball-handler have shot up and all his other play type percentages (most notably his isolation numbers) have gone down. We all saw this happening on the court, so this shouldn't be a surprise. He's getting old (well, older).

Sebastian Telfair

Like the man he backed up, Sebastian Telfair was primarily a pick-and-roll point guard with 43.2 percent of his plays coming as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. He wasn't quite the master Nash was, as either a scorer or passer, but he still found a way to be effective despite low shooting percentages. Telfair used screens mainly to create space to pull-up for a jump shot, a shot he missed a ton early and hit a lot in April. That explains his low field goal percentage at least somewhat. Telfair only shot 39.2 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from beyond the arc, but he did hit 14 3-pointers and his shoot-first mentality meant he kept his turnovers relatively low at 11.8 percent. Telfair scored 0.80 PPP, which ranked him 67th overall.

Isolation is second at 16 percent, and just like with the pick-and-roll, his shooting percentages are terrible but he still manages to be effective. He shot 38.8 percent, but did a good job of drawing fouls at 11.6 percent of his possessions (which is only 8 trips to the line, but still a good percentage). His PPP was 0.81 which was ranked 78th overall.

Oddly enough, Telfair actually shot much better in transition (14.2 percent of his possessions), yet only scored 0.97 PPP and was ranked 239th. Telfair shot nearly 50 percent, while most other decent players shot well above 50 percent. Telfair took a lot of jumpers on the break and missed a lot of tough layups. Even though he said he loved to play fast, he was actually more effective in the half-court, at least compared to his peers.

Bassy did pretty well as a spot-up shooter, which was only on 39 plays all year. He scored 1.08 PPP and was ranked 51st. However, I would beware a small sample size here as he didn't shoot a particularly high percentage and drew two shooting fouls to affect his final number.

Even though most of Telfair's rankings look pretty decent, his overall performance was less than impressive at 0.85 PPP and a rank of 285. Telfair did well as a pick-an-roll ball-handler and in isolation, but both of those aren't very efficient play types and because they made up the majority of his attempts it hurts his final ranking.

Another thing to keep in mind is the disparity between the way he played at the start of the season and at the end of it. It is difficult looking at his season and judging it as a whole, especially because we don't know which one is the real Bassy Telfair right now.

Ronnie Price

Just kidding! Ronnie Price sucks on offense. 0.73 PPP, rank 418th, 37.7 field goal percentage, 23.5 %TO.


The Suns’ whirlwind offseason is drawing to a close. After some major departures and a slew of new additions, the front office has only one spot left to fill: the backup center. Marcin Gortat, once a...

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There’s nobody else in the NBA who plays the same role as Luis Scola. He’s the instigator, the guy whose impact on the game goes beyond the court. He’s a breaker of mental...

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Week three is here, now called 'Solar Flares'. Legend has it that Eutychus (Leiland Tanner) used this term first, but I haven't seen it used in a long time so I'm going with it. Folks just didn't love 'Pick and Pop' (not Suns-y) or 'Gorilla Droppings' (sounded crappy), so let's try this one!

Talk about ANYTHING NBA or Suns related here!

This FANPOST will stay in the Fanposts section all week as it slowly scrolls off the front page when real content gets delivered all week.

1) Team USA plays Argentina (with Luis Scola!) today, and likely Australia in the Quarterfinals

2) Suns are still in need of a backup Center, but likely won't sign anyone till closer to training camp

3) Year 3 of Michael Beasley's 3-yr, $18 mil contract is only partially guaranteed. I don't know how partial though. Anyone who can find the details on that third year, post them here!

4) Anything else Suns/NBA related, go for it!

Week three is here, now called 'Solar Flares'. Legend has it that Eutychus (Leiland Tanner) used this term first, but I haven't seen it used in a long time so I'm going with it. Folks just didn't love 'Pick and Pop' (not Suns-y) or 'Gorilla Droppings' (sounded crappy), so let's try this one!

Talk about ANYTHING NBA or Suns related here!

This FANPOST will stay in the Fanposts section all week as it slowly scrolls off the front page when real content gets delivered all week.

1) Team USA plays Argentina (with Luis Scola!) today, and likely Australia in the Quarterfinals

2) Suns are still in need of a backup Center, but likely won't sign anyone till closer to training camp

3) Year 3 of Michael Beasley's 3-yr, $18 mil contract is only partially guaranteed. I don't know how partial though. Anyone who can find the details on that third year, post them here!

4) Anything else Suns/NBA related, go for it!


PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 09:  Luis Scola #4 of the Houston Rockets puts up a shot over Marcin Gortat #4 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on February 9, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Just because the NBA is on hiatus doesn't mean all NBA players are lounging on a beach somewhere. A few dozen (39) NBA players are currently competing in the Olympics while a bunch more whose countries did not make the Games in London are trying to qualify for next year's championships (Eurobasket 2013 among them).

From the Suns point of view, three international players have interesting stories unfolding this summer.

New power forward Luis Scola, a product of the Suns' youth movement (being 8 years younger than Grant Hill, of course), is playing for Argentina in London. He leads the Olympics in scoring (22.5 ppg) to go along with 5.8 rebounds as he plays a lot of Center for the veteran team known as the Band of Brothers.

Poland (Marcin Gortat) and Slovenia (Goran Dragic) did not qualify for the Olympics. Gortat's team is playing this month to qualify for Eurbasket 2013 - the European Championships. In a warmup tournament this weekend, Gortat has put up 27/10 and 24/15 against Montenegro and Latvia, respectively.

The Suns' own Goran Dragic actually IS taking the summer off though. Since Slovenia is hosting Eurobasket 2013, a major coup, they don't need to play their way into the competition. As a caution, Slovenia's best National Team players are taking this summer off while Slovenia evaluates youngsters.

Hit the jump for a whole lot more on Scola, Gortat and Dragic.

Luis Scola

Luis Scola is not the most talented player in the game, but he has always been very effective and happens to lead all Olympics players, including Team USA, in scoring at 22.5 points per game. Leading his own team in scoring is not an easy feat, considering they boast Manu Ginobili (21.5 ppg), sharp-shooting Carlos Delfino (15.8) and Andres Nocioni (9.0).

"He's a hell of a scorer," Manu Ginobili said of Scola this week to Dan Bickley of azcentral.com. "He has so many trick shots and mid-range shots. He became just lethal from the free-throw-line area. He can give you a lot."

But Scola is not just about scoring. He works hard, willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done on the court.

He does the stuff that isn't always glamorous. That's not an easy mentality to sustain.

"I think I have no choice," Scola said in the same interview with Bickley. "I don't have extraordinary ability. I'm not very athletic. I have to play that way if I want to be successful in the world of basketball. I find out early in my career, if I don't go 100 percent, it's going to be very difficult for me to compete, to be an impact player for any team. And any time I stopped playing that way, I start playing bad. So this is the only way it's going to work."

A longtime nemesis of the Suns, Ginobili is well aware of Scola's new franchise. He was asked to give a candid assessment to fans in Phoenix.

"I've been playing with him for 15 years, I know him very well," Ginobili said. "He's definitely a hard worker, a hard-nosed player. He's going to run on every single possession. Up 20, down 20 or tied, he's going to play. He's going to try to play every game possible. He's not going to rest five games because he's tired."

In addition to scoring, Scola is second on his Argentinian team in rebounding (5.8), tied for first in blocks (1.0) and third in assists. One thing Scola does not do is shoot 3-pointers. He is an inside player, earning his keep near the basket.

Marcin Gortat

Gortat's team did not qualify for the Olympics in the play-in tournament last year, so this year they are trying to play in to Eurobasket 2013 - the Euro championships. Eurobasket is bigger than the Olympics to every national team outside the USA.

Poland is playing a few games this weekend in a 3-day tournament called the Sopot Cup to get ready for the elimination tourney that starts on August 15.

Marcin Gortat in the Ergo Arena. Sopot Cup Basketball Tournament

European Championships Basketball, Teams, Scores, Stats, News, Standings - EUROBASKET

Basketball. Gortat effective, but Poland lost to Montenegro

In the opening game of the Sopot Cup, Gortat played very well (27 and 10) but no one else on his team did.

Gortat and the Latvians, the Poles quickly u?o?yli to sleep - Sport - WP.PL

In the second game, the team showed up around Marcin and the Poles won 99-74. Gortat had 18, 8 and 3 blocks by halftime.

I encourage you to follow the links in the translated Polish stories. Gortat is growing out his beard this summer (a stark contrast to his bald pate), and generally enjoying being the face of Polish basketball. Who can blame him?

Poland will very likely qualify for Eurobasket 2013 in Slovenia. They have not done quite as well as Slovenia, let alone Argentina, but they are always in the hunt.

Poland | EuroBasket 2011

Goran Dragic

Speaking of Eurobasket 2013, the little country of Slovenia won the right to host that prestigious tournament next year. Recently, Hedo Turkoglu's Turkish National team hosted the FIBA World Championships in 2010 and almost won it from out of nowhere. Hedo and his brethren's faces were all over Turkey that summer, helping the team play well all the way to the end.

Next year, it's Goran's turn to be the biggest local name in the whole tournament and for Slovenia to be buoyed by its fans to hopefully finish higher than ever (4th is their highest previous finish).

Slovenia Not Standing Still | EuroBasket 2013

Dragic's Star Rises | EuroBasket 2013

Luckily for Suns fans, Goran just gets watch his brother train this summer during some exhibition games while he and his best teammates take the summer to rest and prepare for next year's epic battle.

Slovenia has performed better in Eurobasket, which occurs every two years, since Dragic joined the team. In 2009 and 2011, little Slovenia has finished 4th and 7th, respectively.

Slovenia | EuroBasket 2013

Check out Slovenia's history in Eurobasket, including Dragic's growth into the team's best player.

Enjoy the links, folks!

And enjoy watching Luis Scola in the Olympics this year - you really will fall in love with his game.


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