Expect plenty of these from Gortat against the smaller Nuggets line-up.


Almost two weeks ago we introduced you to SB Nation's NBA3on3 Tournament where hypothetical 3-man squads from each NBA team battle it out on paper to determine the ultimate 3-on-3 team.

30 teams were chosen by the 30 NBA blogs and two more teams were assembled using leftover players from each conference in order to get to the 32 needed to avoid including byes.If you want to see who the other blogs picked for their teams, go here.

Teams were seeded according to where they finished in the standings last season with the leftover teams being given the nine seed in each conference and bumping the rest of the teams down a spot. Here's a link to all the teams and their seeds.

Teams were organized into a bracket according to seed and conference. A handful of SBN NBA bloggers volunteered to sit on the judges' panel, and five of them are chosen to evaluate each match-up. The judges say how many games out of 20 they believe the higher-seeded team would win, and those numbers are added up to establish the teams' chance to win any one game. Percentile dice are used to judge the winner, and it takes two victories out of three to move on. So the underdog always has a chance.

All the rosters have been chosen, teams have been seeded and we are halfway through the first round of match-ups. Make the jump for a run-down of who has already advanced and a breakdown of the Suns' first round match-up with the trio from the Denver Nuggets.

So far, ten teams have moved on to the second round.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

EASTERN CONFERENCE

For details about the match-ups and each team's chances to win, be sure to check out the Story Stream. But now it's time to take a look at the only match-up you really care about.

6) Denver Nuggets vs. 11) PHOENIX SUNS

The Suns will take the hypothetical court for their first round series against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Be sure to visit the Story Stream or check back here after the odds have been determined, but for now I'm going to tell you why the Suns should be favored in this match-up.

The Rosters:

PHOENIX SUNS
DENVER NUGGETS
GORAN DRAGIC ANDRE IGUODALA
6-FOOT-4, 190 LBS 6-FOOT-6, 207 LBS
11.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.5 APG
12.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.5 AP
JARED DUDLEY WILSON CHANDLER
6-FOOT-7, 225 LBS 6-FOOT-8, 225 LBS
12.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.7 APG 9.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.1 APG
MARCIN GORTAT DANILO GALLINARI
6-FOOT-11, 240 LBS 6-FOOT-10, 225 LBS
15.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 0.9 APG 14.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.7 APG

The Match-Ups:

For the Suns I chose a more traditional guard-wing-big line-up, while Nate Timmons from Denver Stiffs decided to go with a more unconventional three-wing line-up. The contrast of styles creates plenty of mismatches for both sides and should make for an interesting game.

1) Dragic vs. Iguodala

Goran Dragic has excellent size for a point guard, but since Nate decided to leave Ty Lawson at home he's going to have to man up and defend the bigger and more athletic Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala is an incredibly versatile player capable of locking down multiple positions and scoring in a variety of ways. Contrary to popular belief, he's a deadly spot-up shooter so Dragic won't be able to leave him open on the perimeter to help his teammates. Iguodala is also a capable pick-and-roll ball-handler and isolation scorer, so Dragic is going to have to work hard to stay with him. Dragic is a very effective defender (according to MySynergySports.com, Dragic and Iguodala both gave up 0.80 points per possession last year, and Iguodala is widely considered as one of the best defenders in the league), and I have faith he would be able to hold his own.

On the other end, Dragic is better than Iguodala in basically every offensive category other than spot up shooting (per Synergy). He's a good shooter, an excellent driver and a crafty finisher. He also excels as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, a play the Suns figure to use frequently. We've all seen what he's capable of when he gets hot.

This is a match-up of strength against strength on both sides of the ball, and would be a lot of fun to watch.

2) Dudley vs. Chandler

Chandler is pretty similar to Iguodala in that he's a versatile player with good size and athleticism who can do a little of everything offensively. He is good both with the ball in his hands in the pick-and-roll and working off the ball as a cutter and crashing the offensive glass. He's not a particularly good outside shooter, though. Dudley may be outmatched athletically here, but he has enough size and is a smart enough player to make Chandler work for everything he gets.

Chandler is not nearly the defender Iguodala is, however, and that's something the Suns could exploit with the ultra-efficient and versatile Dudley. Dudley is most deadly as a spot-up shooter where he shot 42.7 percent from 3-point range (per Synergy). He could see plenty of open looks if Chandler has to help his smaller teammates against the Dragic-Gortat pick-and-roll. Dudley is also good coming off of screens, posting up, cutting to the basket and crashing the offensive glass, so he provides a variety of offensive options for the Suns.

3) Gortat vs. Gallinari

This is the most intriguing match-up and could go a long way toward determining the winner. A mobile center versus a big wing is a mismatch both ways. Gallinari is similar to the other two in that he can handle the ball, run the pick-and-roll and score in isolation. However, he is probably the most skilled scorer of the three and is more of a jump-shooter. Gortat is very mobile for a big man and Synergy ranks him as a good pick-and-roll and spot-up shooting defender. He may struggle a bit staying with Gallinari outside, but he's also the best shot-blocker and rebounder on the court, which could mean good things for the Suns.

Gortat won't be easy for Gallinari to defend either. He has an extra inch or two and 20 or so pounds on him but still moves like a smaller man. He's no Al Jefferson in the post, but he's good enough to take advantage of a mismatch like this. He would be tough for Gallinari to step when cutting to the basket and crashing the offensive glass. And of course Gortat is one of the best pick-and-roll big men in the entire league.

Sun' Strategy

In this setting, the Suns absolutely need to pick-and-roll the hell out of the Nuggets. Nothing but pick-and-roll. Over and over again. The pick-and-roll is deadly enough in 5-on-5, but imagine the space they'll have to run it in 3-on-3. How are the Nuggets supposed to send help to stop Gortat from rolling to the rim on his smaller man?

Goran Dragic is going to have the ball in his hands most of the time, and it will be up to him to make things happen. He is deadly in the pick-and-roll and comes off the screen looking to take it to the hole with aggression. He's also a capable isolation scorer.

Part of the advantage of the Nuggets' three-wing line-up is the ability to switch all screens, but if they were to do that against the Dragic-Gortat pick-and-roll, it would play right into the Suns' hands. Doing so takes Denver's best perimeter defender and smallest player off of the Suns best ball-handler and puts him onto the Suns' biggest player. Iguodala is really good, but let's see him try to defend the much bigger Gortat rolling to the basket. This also puts Gallinari on Dragic, and I love that match-up for Phoenix. Meanwhile we have Jared Dudley out on the perimeter, spotting up for the 3-pointer if Chandler leaves him to help or cutting back door if Chandler falls asleep.

Versatility is nice, but I'd rather have my team be great in one area than good or okay in a few. Give me the Suns' pick-and-roll over anything the Nuggets can throw at them.

Don't forget, you can follow along with the tournament here.


It’s safe to say the sun doesn’t quite set as high over US Airways Center these days. And, frankly hasn’t for some time. Gone are the faces (Mike D’Antoni, Amar’e...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Here's the weekly open thread!

Informal workouts are definitely starting up! The boys played some 4-on-4 last week, with Scola and Beasley due to arrive any day now. I'll try to get us some exclusive content in the near future, but for now we can rely on good old Paul Coro for more good tidbits.

Paul gives us a recap of the Babby Plan | azcentral.com | Paul Coro

"As much as we hated to admit it because we loved what this team represented, it was like watching the sands fall through the hourglass," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. "They were falling and the sand was getting smaller on the top. You could see time passing. Now we think we've turned the glass over. We don't know what we have in the top but at least we have time and a bright new day."

But that's not all, oh no that is not all...

Voluntary Workouts start, and other juicy tidbits | azcentral.com | Paul Coro

The group should grow Monday for some five-on-five-play with more arrivals but this week was a good start with Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair, P.J. Tucker, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall and Markieff Morris on hand, as well as Morris' twin, Marcus. Channing Frye has been around too but can't participate in scrimmaging yet because of his shoulder rehabilitation.

More after the jump...

And as always, add your own news and notes! For this is the weekly open thread, after all!

Here's the weekly open thread!

Informal workouts are definitely starting up! The boys played some 4-on-4 last week, with Scola and Beasley due to arrive any day now. I'll try to get us some exclusive content in the near future, but for now we can rely on good old Paul Coro for more good tidbits.

Paul gives us a recap of the Babby Plan | azcentral.com | Paul Coro

"As much as we hated to admit it because we loved what this team represented, it was like watching the sands fall through the hourglass," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. "They were falling and the sand was getting smaller on the top. You could see time passing. Now we think we've turned the glass over. We don't know what we have in the top but at least we have time and a bright new day."

But that's not all, oh no that is not all...

Voluntary Workouts start, and other juicy tidbits | azcentral.com | Paul Coro

The group should grow Monday for some five-on-five-play with more arrivals but this week was a good start with Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair, P.J. Tucker, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall and Markieff Morris on hand, as well as Morris' twin, Marcus. Channing Frye has been around too but can't participate in scrimmaging yet because of his shoulder rehabilitation.

More after the jump...

And as always, add your own news and notes! For this is the weekly open thread, after all!

Jared Dudley is ready to lead | suns.com | Greg Esposito

SunsCentral | suns.com

Slideshow of the new guys in their Suns jerseys! | suns.com

Here's the first pic

Dragic_4752_medium


Possible Co-Captains?  These two will likely share quite a few minutes on the court together.

Chemistry.

Not the science of matter and chemical reactions, the ability for people to interact with one another.

Due to the vicissitudes of the off-season, the new look Suns will need to build some. The starting of next now may be dependent on the compatibility of the melange of fresh faces with the returning regime. Seven may be a lucky number, but it's also a ton of turnover.

Enter resident mad scientist Alvin Gentry. This is already the third overhaul the team has undergone during Gentry's relatively brief tenure. Each time he builds his bricolage, the pieces are swept off the table like some sinister game of Jenga against a petulant opponent. Gentry concocts his potion only to see the ingredients on the shelf behind him rotate out.

It's time for another grand experiment. Start the clock. For the Suns to maximize their potential this season, the brainstorm must occur early. Gentry doesn't have the luxury of waiting for improvement in the second half, as has been the leitmotif of previous campaigns. Gentry will need to figure out which rotations will be most fecund and which individuals can be part of a team.

After all, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

All tables were developed using information made available by 82games.com.

Our journey begins with a look at a far removed era of Suns basketball - the 2009-10 season. No surprise here that Nash, Stoudemire and Richardson populate the top three units in terms of plus/minus. One thing to note is that Dudley's name finds its way onto the list more than any other player, present in four of the five rotations.

Suns_2009-10_top_5_medium

The next season (2010-11) finds Nash, Hill and Frye on all five of the Suns best units. Notice here that Frye seems to be able to switch back and forth between the four and the five quite capably and is paired with a center in four of the rotations.

Suns_2010-11_top_5_medium

Which brings us to last year. These perambulations down memory lane make me so mawkish...

What do we see here?

Nash and Gortat in four pairings.

Frye and Gortat in three. Remember, that's after two the previous season.

Brown, Dudley and Gortat in two.

Dudley, Frye and Gortat in one.

Suns_2011-12_top_5_medium

What conclusions can we draw?

Nash played in 12 of the 15 top units the last three years. Those units were +734. I'm pretty sure that any way we parse the data that Nash will be superior to anyone else on the team using these types of stats. How much of a deleterious effect will his departure have? We know that one of Nash's greatest attributes is his ability to make those around him better.... but we also know that bench units have had some success without his presence.

Analysts forecasting failure seem to think the loss will have a profoundly pernicious effect. I'm ambivalent. A couple of these rotations could be plug and play with the new additions. Several productive line ups return three or four pieces, meaning that they could be easily augmented into fruitful groups once again. But where will this augmentation come from?

That's easy. The Rockets and Timberwolves. Yay?

While Lowry was the floor general for the five man unit with a +24 that led the team in minutes played (455.4), Dragic's four line ups were a combined +136 in 397.5 minutes. That's good. Dragic and Scola were also paired in two of the groupings (including the best overall). More good.

Houston_2011-12_top_5_medium

The outlook for the incoming pieces from Minnesota isn't quite as auspicious. Beasley was in the top five man unit on the team, but they only played together for 33.3 minutes. Beasley made two of the top five, but was only in one grouping that registered more than 34.8 minutes together during the season. Part of that was due to his reduced role (23.1 minutes per game), part because he missed nearly a third of the season (19 games) to injuries. Beasley started the first seven games, got hurt, and never regained his starting role.

The returns from Johnson are putrid. He does crack one of the top five rotations, but is also in four of the worst five. He managed nearly as many minutes per game as Beasley (22.6), but played more minutes during the season as he only missed one game and unbelievably managed to start 64...

Speaking of the games Beasley missed, check out this discussion over at Canis Hoopus in which they speak glowingly of the Suns inimitable medical staff. Hit the link, this stuff is like gold - except actually valuable.

Minnesota_2011-12_top_5_medium

What we know.

Gortat, Dudley, Frye and Brown have already demonstrated an ability to play together effectively. In particular, Gortat and Frye have proven to be thick as thieves, compiling an impressive +319 in 1,607.7 minutes the past two seasons (as part of the top units).

Dragic and Scola seem to play well together. They managed to amass a +79 in 229.9 minutes among two pairings.

Dragic has played well with Dudley and Frye before (think 2009-10).

What we don't know.

How will Dragic interact with Gortat and Brown?

Do the Suns still have a logjam at power forward with Scola, Frye, Morris and Beasley perhaps being best suited at the four?

How in tarnation does Michael Beasley fit into all of this?

What I think I know.

The real lucky seven - Gortat, Dragic, Dudley, Frye, Scola, Beasley and Brown.

Other players, such as Morris and Telfair, may crack some of the top five man units, but I think that there's a really good chance that these seven guys will be intimately involved with the team's success (or failure).

Let's play Gentry. Left hand yellow, right foot blue, given those players what would you do?

I surmise that the starters entering training camp are Dragic, Dudley, Beasley, Scola and Gortat. I'm not sure that I necessarily think that's the best unit, though.

A Dragic, Brown, Dudley, Beasley/Frye, Gortat combination might be more prolific. Maybe Dragic, Dudley, Beasley, Frye and Gortat?

Once we get past the Dragon and the Hammer (that sounds like a cool name for a pub), it is still somewhat nebulous. Back to the lab for Gentry. Time to amalgamate the winning formula.

What can we mix in the Brightside beaker? Who do you think the starters will be on opening night, and who do you think will be the Suns best five man unit?


Wonder why his arms aren't up for the rebound?

Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat was the best big man in this year's qualifying tournament for Eurobasket 2013, which will be hosted by the Suns' Goran Dragic's Slovenia next year. Check out the short video preview (after the jump), Slovenian National Team style.

Gortat led Poland to a 6-2 record (including their last 5 consecutive), winning Group E and guaranteeing a spot in the 24-team field for the European Championships next year. In all, 16 of the 24 teams had qualify for Eurobasket 2013 this fall. The eight teams already in are the host country (Slovenia) and the 7 Euro teams who played in this year's Olympics - F.Y.R. of Macedonia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Lithuania, Russia and Spain.

The Polish Hammer finished fourth in the Qualifying tourney in scoring (21.1 per game), second in rebounding (11.6) and second in blocks (2.3) amongst all players in the 30-team field. He finished top-10 in 13 different statistical categories for the tourney, missing on only volume-related minutes-per-game (#20) and field goals attempted (#16). The Polish Hammer was extremely efficient throughout the entire tourney, and finished with a double-double in six of eight qualifying games.

We still don't know if Gortat will suddenly stop scoring without Nash feeding him the ball, but evidence shows that Gortat has been able to score in other situations without Nash. Despite being double and triple-teamed in this and previous Euro tourneys, Gortat has been able to score well (18.9 ppg in Eurobasket 2011, 14.3 ppg in Eurobasket 2009). And in limited action as Dwight Howard's backup in Orlando, Gortat showed an ability to score.

Cross your fingers that he won't suddenly become an 8 ppg player, but feel comfortable that Gortat will still bring rebounding, blocks and toughness no matter what. If nothing else, Gortat will get some points off Dragic's penetration and pick-and-roll action. Gortat is an opportunist, meaning he finds ways to get easy scores. That won't stop.

Here's Slovenia's preview for Eurbasket 2013. Recognize anyone?

So now we have a showdown to preview all year - will Dragic's Slovenia and/or Gortat's Poland find a way to bring their country a medal next fall? or will Luis Scola's Argentina?

We have friendly rivalries about to bud this next season.

Let's hope they become great teammates on the Suns first.


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