Now that the draft has come and gone and free agency is winding down, I thought it was a good time to resume my position by position look at the 2011-12 Phoenix Suns using MySynergySports.com. I'm breaking the roster down into positions an then examining each one on both offense and defense using the numbers from Synergy.
I've previously completed the centers on offense (Gortat and Lopez were a beast pick-and-roll one-two punch) and defense (Gortat's mobility allows him to be very effective in Elston Turner's defense), the power forwards on offense (both Frye an Morris showed versatility but were hurt by poor shooting years) and defense (Frye defended the post well, Morris didn't) and small forwards on offense (Hill and Redd both found ways to contribute despite not shooting well from the perimeter) and defense (Hill was good in several areas, while Redd was bad at them all).
Now it's time to look at the remaining wings: Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown, both of whom will be back with the team for the 2012-13 season.
Make the jump to see how these two looked on offense last year, and what we can expect from them this coming year.
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.
Jared Dudley is and always has been primarily a spot-up shooter. He certainly has improved his all-around offensive game and has diversified his skill set, but he still spots up on the wing and in the corner more than any other play. 32.7 percent of Dudley's plays were of the spot-up variety, down from roughly 40 percent in the to years prior. Dudley shot 48.4 percent overall and 42.7 percent from deep and scored 1.21 PPP, ranked 17th in the league. And this is taking his rough start where he couldn't hit a shot into account.
After spotting up, transition was Dudley's second most common play at 21.6 percent. In 2009-10, Dudley was deadly accurate from deep, converting 45.2 percent of his 3-pointers. However, in 2010-11 that dropped to 41.4 percent and it dropped even further this past season to 38.6 percent. The reason for this decline has been Dudley's transition shooting, as his spot-up numbers have been consistently very good at 42-44 percent. In 2009-10, Dudley shot 50.6 percent from 3 in transition, down to only 31.1 percent this past season on half the attempts. Dudley's overall field goal percentage also dropped below 50 percent for the first time in the last three years, and he went from very good in 2009-10 to merely average this past season with 1.1 PPP and a rank of 173.
Perhaps the area that Dudley has grown in the most is shooting off of screens. This season, Dudley was used running off screens on 16.4 percent of his plays, up from 5.9 percent in 2009-10. Dudley has really worked to make himself more than just a spot-up shooter, and that hard work is shown in the numbers here. Dudley shot 43.6 percent from the field and averaged 0.85 PPP, which earned him a rank of 70.
However, Dudley is more than just a shooter as we all know. He does all the little things you need your role players to do in order to win as well. Dudley is effective in the post with 0.84 PPP and a rank of 68, can finish as a cutter with 1.24 PPP and a rank of 72 and was a stud when he crashed the offensive glass with 1.22 PPP good for a rank of 25.
Basically, Dudley was average or better at almost every category, which is why his overall PPP was so impressive at 1.05, which ranked Dudley 17th in the NBA, even with the decline in 3-point percentage. Dudley has worked very hard on his game and has turned himself into one of the more efficient all-around offensive players in the game.
Similar to Dudley, Brown was used most often as a spot-up shooter at 25.2 percent. 110 of Brown's 164 spot-up jumpers were form behind the arc, where he only shot 32.7 percent. He averaged 0.90 PPP and was ranked 193, so spotting up probably isn't his best play.
Brown isn't exactly known for his ball-handling skills, but that didn't stop him from running plenty of pick-and-roll plays (18 percent), and surprisingly enough, he was pretty decent. Brown averaged 0.76 PPP as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, ranked 90th overall. Brown did not shoot particularly well at only 35.5 percent, but his 8-15 shooting from beyond the arc bumped up his PPP a bit.
Brown also got out in transition on 17.9 percent of his plays and was a little more effective. Where Dudley often runs to the 3-point line, Brown is looking to get to the basket. He only took 17 3-pointers in transition (making seven) but shot 57 percent from the field overall on nearly 100 shot attempts. He scored 1.13 PPP and was ranked 157th, He drew fouls on 10.5 percent of his attempts, but also turned the ball over 12.9 percent of the time.
Where Brown differs from Dudley the most is in isolation. Dudley isn't a one-on-one player at all, as he got the ball only 22 times all year in isolation. Brown, on the other hand, isolates on 15.1 percent of his possessions. Unfortunately, he's not all that good at it, as he only scored at a 31.4 percent clip in isolation and averaged 0.70 PPP (rank 163).
The two areas where Brown was mos effective are shooting off screens and cutting to the basket. Unfortunately, he only got the ball in these situations a total of 92 times. Brown shot 44.7 percent on 48 plays running off of screens and scored 0.92 PPP (rank 47), which is even better than Dudley. He was even more efficient when he was able to showcase his athleticism as a cutter. Brown shot a blistering 80.6 percent as a cutter and scored 1.48 PPP, which was 9th best among all qualifying players.
Overall, Brown averaged 0.90 PPP, good for a rank of 202, and scored 40.6 percent of the time. He's pretty good at certain things, but his poor decision-making makes him far less efficient than he could be if he focused more on his strengths.
Dudley and Brown seem to be polar opposites. Dudley is a very smart player who plays to his strengths and doesn't force things. Brown, on the other hand, tries to do far too much and takes a lot of bad shots.
Based on Dudley's career path thus far, I expect him to continue to improve his all-around game and perhaps add a new tool to his arsenal. According to Dudley's Twitter account, he's working on developing a floater so that he can finish better in the paint. Keep an eye out for that. The most important thing, however, is that Dudley work on his transition 3-point shot. If he can get that close to where it was two years ago, he should become even more efficient.
Brown began to play better basketball late in the season once he became a starter, and hopefully he continues that trend. Brown can be a very effective scorer if used correctly. He needs to focus more on cutting to the basket and shooting off of screens rather than trying to create his own shot off the dribble (which usually results in a long jump shot).