The Bright Side did a Q-and-A with Nick Denning of thelotterymafia.com who closely follows his home town team, the Charlotte Bobcats. Nick provides an insider point of view on Anthony Tolliver last season.
In the wake of "he who people are tired of hearing mentioned", the Phoenix Suns spent $3 million of their boatload of cash this off season on Anthony Tolliver to be a stretch four in the Suns offense next season.
A year ago, Tolliver scored 6.1 points and grabbed 2.6 rebounds playing 20 minutes per game at small forward for the Charlotte Hornets (nee the Bobcats, nee the Hornets). He was a small part of the offense, focused strictly on being a shooter.
A startling 63.8 percent of Tolliver's possessions last year (222 total) came on spot-ups, where he shot 40 percent from 3-point range and scored 1.16 points per possession (ranked 33rd in Synergy). But wait, there's more! Much smaller sample size (only 35 possessions), but as the pick-and-roll/pop man, Tolliver shot 12-25 from 3-point range and scored 1.16 points per possession again (ranked 22nd). I'm not done yet, though. In transition, Tolliver shot 11-25 from 3 and 17-33 overal for 1.4 points per possession (ranked 19th).
Let's hear what Nick Denning, a big-time Hornets fans and writer for www.thelotterymafia.com, has to say about what Tolliver brought to the Bobcats last year. I did an email Q and A with Nick this week:
Dave King: Tell me about Tolliver last season. I heard he played a lot of 3 because of McBob playing the 4. He made a good percentage on the 3s but didn't do much else.
Nick Denning: He did play a lot of 3, primarily because McRoberts was asked to play with the second unit as the stretch 4. His job was almost inclusively to catch and shoot from behind the arc -- Charlotte was desperate for three point shooting, and that was how he got his chance in the first place. When he started connecting at a high percentage, Clifford opted to play him over Ben Gordon (who played a different position, but was asked to do the same thing).
Tolliver's shot chart for the Bobcats:
Three point shooting was his job, but he did often make smart plays, and at times was asked to guard some of the tougher players at the 3 (Lebron, Melo, etc), particularly when MKG was in foul trouble. He's not someone I'd rely heavily on for defensive duties, but for short periods of time is serviceable. He also almost always made the right play on both sides of the floor. Three point shooting is his game, but don't overlook his high basketball IQ.
What impression did he leave you with, in his one season there?
Loved him. He was a late addition to the team so I didn't expect much, but he became a favorite in my household. My friends and I came up with the term, "Tolliver Daggers," because he often hit shots exactly when the team needed him to. We would also mimic his hand motions after he hit a three (he would often blow on each balled fist before blowing on both hands simultaneously), so look for that. For stretches during the year he was a difference maker, hitting the big shots needed for Charlotte to pull away or keep things close.
His three point shooting percentage was off the charts from December through February, shooting a season high 48.6 percent in December, while in February shooting 46.9 percent while attempting nearly five 3-pointers a game. Unfortunately his three point shooting dipped in March to 27.1 percent, and he was benched because he wasn't offering much else. And there in laid the problem, and why Charlotte didn't bring him back. He's a specialist, but the team needed more than that from him.
What should Suns fans look forward to? A bit-player who may or may not play? Or someone who was underutilized in Charlotte?
He wasn't underutilized, in fact I'd say his role was perfect in Charlotte. I wouldn't call him a bit role player either though, if he continues to knock down 3-pointers he will earn minutes in the rotation, although it may be hard with P.J. Tucker and T.J. Warren playing the 3. If the Suns want him to fill the void left by Channing Frye he will certainly contribute from behind the arc, just don't expect much more. He is by all accounts a great locker room guy, and will accept any role. I'll root for him wherever he goes, and Phoenix seems like a good fit for him to excel.
Suns fans may hope Tolliver was underutilized in Charlotte and that he's been underutilized his whole career. But I think the reality is that Tolliver will be a great spot-up shooter on the second unit, as a kick-out option for the Slash Brothers (Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic) to go alongside Gerald Green and/or Marcus Morris. The Suns really need that threat along the three-point line, and Tolliver can provide that with aplomb.
As you can see by the shot chart above, Tolliver is great at making the corner three. Only Tucker and Dragic were great at corner threes last year, so adding Tolliver allows Green and Mook and Kieff to focus on the angles and straight-aways they prefer.
The Suns, moving to replace the floor-stretching capabilities of Channing Frye, agreed to terms with free agent power forward Anthony Tolliver, most recently of the Charlotte Hornets.
According to RealGM's Shams Charania, the Suns and free agent Anthony Tolliver have agreed on a 2 year, $6 million dollar contract.
RealGM Story: Hornets free agent Anthony Tolliver has agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with the Phoenix Suns. http://t.co/BdAmja3LzY— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 16, 2014
The 29 year old Tolliver is something of an NBA journeyman. He has played for 6 teams over his 6 year career, including stints with Minnesota, Golden State and most recently Charlotte.
At 6'8 and 240 pounds, Tolliver is a small stretch forward, but thick. Tolliver is a career 35% shooter from 3 point land. For his career, he has averaged 6.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes per game.
Last season with Charlotte, Tolliver had something of a career year from beyond the arc, though his rebounding numbers and 2pt shooting percentages were down.
For more information, you can reference this story our own Jacob Padilla wrote about Tolliver earlier this year for the Creightonian.
Tolliver confirmed the signing on his Twitter account shortly after Charania broke the news.
Think you know the whole story of how the Phoenix Suns waived Dionte Christmas? Well you don't.
With the terribly sad news of Dionte Christmas being waived by the Phoenix Suns I was motivated to do a re-telling of a Christmas classic. In the spirit of haremoor's 'Twas the Night Before (Dionte) Christmas, Jim Coughenour's How Sarver Stole Christmas, and Mike Lisboa's The Night Before Christmas, I present to you How the McGrinch Cut Christmas.
Note: I apologize for nothing.
Every Suns fan in Phoenix likes Dionte Christmas a lot
But the McGrinch who lived just north of Phoenix, DID NOT.
The McGrinch hated Dionte Christmas! Hated Dionte Christmas the whole 2013-14 season!
Now please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his player evaluation skills weren't just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
Whatever the reason, His skills or his shoes,
He stood there on the eve of Dionte Christmases contract becoming guaranteed, hating the news
Staring down from his office with a sour, McGrinchy frown,
At the happy little Suns fans below in their town
For he knew every Suns fan down in Phoenix beneath,
Was busy now, hanging a Dionte Christmas-themed wreath.
"And they're hanging their game-used Dionte Christmas cheering towels!" he snarled with a sneer,
"They love Dionte Christmas! He's practically here (for the next season)!"
Then he growled, with his McGrinch mind nervously yearning,
"I MUST find some way to stop Dionte Christmas from returning!"
For tomorrow, he knew, all the Suns fan girls and boys,
Would wake bright and early. They'd rush for the internet to purchase celebratory Dionte Christmas-themed toys!
And then! Oh, the cheers! Oh, the cheers!
Cheers! Cheers! Cheers!
That's one thing he hated! The Cheers!
Cheers! Cheers! Cheers!
Then the Suns fans, young and old, would sit down for an Dionte Christmas honoring feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast! And they'd feast!
FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would feast on Suns-pudding, and rare Suns-roast beast.
Which was something the McGrinch couldn't stand in the least!
And THEN they'd do something he liked least of all!
Every Sun down in Sunsville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Dionte Christmas bells ringing.
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Suns fans would start singing!
They'd sing! And they'd sing! And they'd SING!
SING! SING! SING!
And the more the McGrinch thought of this Suns Dionte Christmas singing,
The more the McGrinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!"
"Why for 1 year I've put up with it now!"
"I must stop this Dionte Christmas from returning! But HOW?"
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
The McGrinch got a wonderful, awful idea!
"I know just what to do!" the McGrinch laughed in his throat
And he pulled out a contract and began to gloat
And he chuckled, and clucked "What a great McGrinchy trick!"
"With this contract and my power, I'm basically a dick"
"All I need is a lawyer..." the McGrinch looked around.
But, since lawyers are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old McGrinch? No! The McGrinch simply said,
"If I can't find a lawyer, I'll find a former one instead"
So he called his friend, Lon. Then he took some black thread,
And he built a fancy suit on which no agent would tread.
Then he loaded a briefcase and thought up some old con
He jumped into his luxury car and he hitched up old Lon.
Then the McGrinch said "Giddyup" And the car started down,
Toward the home of Dionte Christmas asnooze in the town.
All their windows were dark. Punishing heat filled the air.
All the Suns fans were all dreaming sweet thoughts of Dionte Christmas without care.
When he came to the Dionte's little house on the square.
"This is the stop," the old McGrinchy hissed,
And he climbed to the roof, the non-guaranteed contract in his fist.
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But, if RC Buford could do it, then so could the McGrinch.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue.
Where the game used Dionte Christmas towels all hung in a row.
"These game used Dionte Christmas Towels," he grinned, "are the first things to go!"
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Slava Jerseys! And Marcus Morris tshirts! Ish Smith skates! Barbosa themed drums!
Alex Len warmups! PJ Tucker bobbleheads! Al McCoy microphones! And Miles Plumlee plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the McGrinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!
Then he slunk to the icebox. He took Dionte's feast!
He took the Suns-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that McGrinch even took their last bag of Suns-hash (left by Michael Beasley)!
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
"And NOW!" grinned the McGrinch, "I will take Dionte's roster spot with me!"
And the McGrinch searched for Dionte, ready to cut him,
When he heard a small sound like a player coming home from the gym.
He turned around fast, and didn't know just what to do.
It was Dionte Christmas himself, who was preparing to enter year two.
The McGrinch had been caught offguard by this current Suns player,
Who'd been out all night searching for a soothsayer.
He stared at the McGrinch and said, "McGrinchy, why,"
"Why have you apparently robbed me? WHY?"
But, you know, that old McGrinch was so smart and so slick,
He just told him the truth, and he told him real quick!
"Why, my sweet little Dionte," the McGrinch confessed,
"I've come for your roster spot, you'll no longer be a Sun."
"So I'm ending your contract, enough with the fun."
Dionte was crushed, he didn't know what to do.
In fact his first instinct was perhaps to sue.
At that point Lon Babby appeared, looking all quirky.
"Sorry Dionte, perhaps you can play in Turkey."
The former Temple star was understandably sad and his head then sunk
It would appear McGrinch would have the last slam dunk.
Typically in this story things begin to improve
And I suppose that depends on perspective since Dionte Christmas can now play closer to the Louvre
Happy endings are for children and there's none here to use.
If you find yourself missing Dionte just reach for the booze.