Phoenix Suns 101, Sacramento Kings 90 PHOENIX — For the first time this season, the Phoenix Suns learned how to make life easy on themselves. As a trend so far this year, they’d find...

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Kendall Marshall, second-best point guard in the 2012 NBA Draft. Lottery pick. North Carolina star and prolific tweeter (at least he used to be).

That's what he is. The big question is if he will ever be an NBA player and right now that answer is leaning towards, NO.

Through seven games in the D-league, here's Marshall's stats:

- 32mpg for a total of 225 minutes of burn

- Shooting .329 percent from the field. He's made just 26 of 79 shots!

- Shooting .167 from three! He's made just 3 of 18 attempts!!

- 7.1 assists per game is a solid D-league number (we knew he could pass)

- 3.29 turnovers per game isn't horrible considering how much he likely has the ball in his hands and

- His rebounding and steals numbers certainly don't jump off the page: 1.29 SPG / 3.4 RPG

Basically, Marshall right now is exactly what we feared he be coming out of a college and exactly what he was in summer league. He has great passing skill and sub-par everything else and that's never going to be good enough for the NBA.

I'm far more patient than most when it comes to young players (and most things sports-related) but this kid hasn't shown me any reason to think he'll be in the NBA three years from now.

Here's a few words from Gino from Ridiculous Upside where watching the D-league is their passion.

"I've kept tabs on (Marshall), not a ton of live viewing, but seems like he is more focused on distributing the ball, which he is improving on, his turnovers have been a little bit of an issue though. From a scoring standpoint he hasn't impressed me, but I like his ability to look for others and getting them involved. Shooting wise, his percentages havent been spectacular either. I'd say he needs to show me more on the scoring end. Body language isnt the greatest either."

And here's more from Ryan from Ridiculous Upside:

He's actually distributing the ball pretty well, but is not taking quality shots. His 33% from the floor is indicative of that.

He's forcing things a bit too much and not taking advantage of what the defense is offering. Bad decision making...and his turnovers have gone up...

He has quality players around him (Renaldo Major, Damon James and Brian Butch) yet he's not really in sync with them... They should be killing it with pick and pops and the iso option should be open since Butch is a big man who can hit the three, but these things really aren't happening.

Some players just struggle with a D-league assignment. JaJuan Johnson is a good example of this.

JaJuan Johnson isn't a lottery pick and neither is Tony Wroten (25th pick, 2012). Tony is putting up 13 ppg, 3.3 apg and shooting 37% (43.8% from three) in 23 mpg in six games in Reno.

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This week began on a low point with the Phoenix Suns losing their 7th game in a row against the Orlando Magic. But just when things were looking their bleakest, the Suns turned it all around with their most impressive win of the season agianst one of the top teams in the conference on Wednesday, the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Suns were able to win that game by relying more on the defensive side of the ball than we've seen in the past...Holding the Grizzlies to just 80 points and tying their lowest points scored so far this season. Surely this was a fluke, right? Well if it was, the Suns fluked twice as they back-doored that performance with another impressive defensive victory against the Jazz whom they beat by 15 points and held to just 84 points...tying their 2nd lowest points scored so far this season as well.

So who do we have to thank for this remarkable turnaround?

1. Jared Dudley

Weekly Average: 17 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds in 41 minutes of play; +14

Since being moved to the starting small forward position, Jared Dudley has re-emerged as the "Junk Yard Dog" that earned him a reputation as one of the scrappiest players in the league, and made him a fan favorite. Dudley carried the weight of the team on his shoulders this week with his inspired play and energy on both ends of the court, JD was the biggest difference maker for the Suns in the last two wins, hands down.

2. Goran Dragic

Weekly Average: 14.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals in 34 minutes of play; +10

Dragic didn't play against the Magic last Sunday due to an illness he had been fighting for several days prior. Many had questioned what was wrong with Goran who simply wasn't playing like himself. Well, at least we know there was a reason. Once Dragic came back healthy he showed the same aggressive, fast-paced play that he had displayed in the beginning of the season, and helped lead the Suns team to both of their victories this week.

3. Marcin Gortat

Weekly Average: 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 blocks in 33 minutes of play; +5

Gortat had been in a slump over the past few weeks. While we still aren't quite sure what the cause of it was, it appears that the Polish Machine picked himself up by the boot straps and got back to work this week...Getting a little better with each game. Marcin seems to be the type of player who is easily affected by the circumstances surrounding him, and a couple of bad plays can easily snowball into a couple of bad games. But Gortat got back to form this week when the Suns needed him most, playing excellent defense and securing rebounds to help the Suns get these much needed wins.

4. P.J. Tucker

Weekly Average: 5 points, 5 rebounds in 12.5 minutes of play; +1.5

Tucker's stats certainly don't seem very impressive upon first glance...and he also missed the Magic Game last Sunday along with Dragic. However, Tucker's defense was huge for the Suns in both of their wins. His game is full of intangibles that simply don't show up on the stat sheet...but his impact couldn't be more apparent.

5. Jermaine O'Neal

Weekly Average: 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 Blocks in 15 minutes of play; +5

O'Neal found a way to make a positive impact once again this week. Jermaine has become a very consistent player for the Suns off the bench. He gives the Suns additional size in the post and almost always plays excellent defense. This week was no exception, and the Suns probably wouldn't have been able to win these past two games without him.

6, Markieff Morris

Weekly Average: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block in 26 minutes of play; +8

Markieff had a pretty solid week overall. He has bounced around--both in and out of the starting line-up as head coach Alvin Gentry continues to look for the right fit. However, he has taken each change in stride and continued to play through it. Morris provided the Suns with efficient play on both ends of the court this week and helped the team.

7. Shannon Brown

Weekly Average: 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 37 minutes of play; +3

Brown actually didn't have a great week, despite his misleading stats. Although he averaged 13 points per game, he shot only 13-40 from the field at 32%, and took his fair share of bad shots in the process. He is not a very good defender, and is also at fault for a lot of the stagnation that happens on offense when there is too much dribbling and not enough passing. However, Brown can also be an explosive game changer for the Suns when he is in his groove, and he did help give life to the struggling Suns offense at times...so he wasn't all bad.

8, Sebastian Telfair

Weekly Average: 5 points, 4 assists, and 1 steal in 21 minutes of play; +4

Bassy had an average week all things considered. He got his first start of the season against the Magic when Dragic was sick, and although he only scored 6 points on 1-7 shooting from the field, he did have 8 assists to help make up for it. However, Telfair is just a better player off the bench in limited minutes. He provides defense and energy to the second unit and he certainly did his part this week.

9. Michael Beasley

Weekly Average: 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 block in 15 minutes of play; -5

Beasley was still a negative for the Suns this week, but he did seem to play slightly better as a power forward off the bench than he did at the three. Beasley was still a liability on defense, but he did make some nice plays to help set up his teammates at times and also gave the Suns some quality minutes in the first quarter against the Jazz. Beasley didn't have a good week by any means, but I did notice small improvements overall.

10. Luis Scola

Weekly Average: 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 14 minutes of play; -9

Scola just didn't play well this week at all. He shot only 8-23 from the field for 35% and simply wasn't able to contribute much in the way of rebounding or defense either. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road for Scola, as he is usually a much better player than we saw this week.

So there you have it...Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below!

Suns fans, it is time to take a long, deep breath. This advice is not recommended to avoid the smell of Phoenix’s record through 24 games. Take a deep breath and be patient. Now is not the time for...

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After witnessing a talented player completely fall apart in front of their eyes, the Phoenix Suns and head coach Alvin Gentry have decided to try something different.

For the near future at least, Michael Beasley is now primarily a backup power forward while Jared Dudley slides to the starting small forward spot in his place.

"We are trying to create an advantage for him," Gentry said. "He is a hybrid 3/4. Him being a 4-man sometimes gives us a bit of an advantage in what he can do."

"Where ever we can get him as a mismatch," Jared Dudley said about the move. "Defensively you have to scrap a little more against guys that are bigger than you. The 'four' is more on top, where he has more freedom to drive where the 'three' is more cluttered where you have to beat your man and the big. With a big guarding him, it's just you and him."

The Suns came into the season with two talented-enough power forward candidates in veteran Luis Scola and second-year player Markieff Morris and a dearth of starting talent on the wings. Once Scola was claimed off amnesty waivers, there was "no room at the inn" for Michael Beasley down low.

So the Suns proclaimed Beasley the starter at SF and Jared Dudley the starter at SG. There. All the spots are filled in nicely. Smiley-face.

But despite showering love and patience on SuperCoolBeas, disaster struck. After years of being so-so on the court in terms of point differential when he's out there vs. when he's not (see below, it's TRUE), Beasley has suddenly become the worst player in the NBA. By a wide margin. The Suns are +6 per game when he sits, and MINUS 13.5 when he is on the floor. That's a net swing of almost 20 points. PER GAME.

Looks unbelievable right? When you consider that the Suns have dug double-digit deficits 19 of 24 games while recovering from nearly half of them and winning five with the second unit, the story becomes a little more believable.

So, Alvin had to do something. They invested too much money and effort in Beasley just to give up after 23 games.

Now he's going to sit Luis Scola and/or Markieff Morris in favor of Beasley at PF for a while to see if playing PF might work out. But he's also cutting Beasley's time, lessening his potential impact on any one game.

"Whatever the team needs, that's what I'm going to do," Michael Beasley said about the move, coupled with less playing time. "As far as what I think, honestly it doesn't matter. It's about what coach thinks. Whether it be the 3. Whether it be the 4. Coming off the bench. Whatever the team needs me to do, that's what I'll do."

"It's a work in progress," Goran Dragic said. "But I think it's going to be good. Beas can penetrate, he can make passes."

Then the Dragon touched on the biggest concern of Beasley playing the 4-spot. "But on defense everybody has to help each other."

In the last two games, Beasley was a +6 in 18 minutes against the Jazz (the rest of the team's minutes were +9), and a -3 against the Grizzlies in 10 minutes (the rest of the team's minutes were +5).

Less time. Better mismatches. Will it work?

The likelihood is a big huge YES. Frankly, it can't get worse. Beasley has never been this bad. In his prior four years, the worst you can say is that he was average to slightly below average, in terms of net team results.

The first four years

Pat Riley drafted Michael Beasley #2 overall after the Bulls had wavered on SuperCoolBeas before eventually settling on Derrick Rose.

Beasley was clearly a top-2 pick, with a big dropoff to the next tier. Director of Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies John Hollinger (then of ESPN) had Beasley rated as one of the best pro prospects ever. But Beasley already had some red flags and Riley tried hard to trade the pick before ultimately taking Beasley.

Despite being undersized at 6'8" (though many say he's 6'10"), Beasley has played most of his career at the Power Forward spot (see breakdown of years below). Head coaches Pat Riley and Rick Adelman saw that Beasley had a better chance to succeed against bigger, slower guys because Beasley lacked focus and lateral quickness to consistently stay with a wing player.

Kurt Rambis was the only head coach who saw otherwise. Rambis thought that since Beasley liked to shoot jumpers, then he should play a perimeter spot while bigger guys played closer to the basket. They had Al Jefferson and rookie Kevin Love down low. Nice theory, and Beasley actually was kind of effective there, but the team overall stunk and Beasley was clearly not the future.

Then he found a bleeding heart who saw the great potential inside Beasley and got an $18 million, 3-year contract ($15 million guaranteed) to make a fresh start in Phoenix. The first thing Blanks did was call Beasley a small forward, a position he'd only played for one year in the NBA.

When I asked Beasley in training camp if he preferred to be down low vs. on the perimeter, he said without hesitation that he'd rather be on the perimeter. In terms of physical matchups, Beasley profiles as a SF.

But this year so far has been a disaster.

According to 82games.com, Michael Beasley's net on/off points differential and overall effectiveness are:

2008-09:

Beasley played half his team's minutes that season, nearly every one of his seconds at the PF spot. He was offensively effective (PER 19.2) and defensively challenged (19.6 PER against). Scoring-wise, they were about even with him out there. He was perimeter-oriented despite playing PF, taking 70% of his shots outside 10 feet from the hoop.

2009-10:

Beasley again played half of the team's available PF minutes this season as the HEAT made the playoffs. With him on the court (alongside Wade and Jermaine O'Neal), the HEAT had a +2.6 in point differential and Beasley was more efficient than his opponent by a wide margin - an improvement over his rookie season.

But his team played even better with him on the bench (+5.9 points), resulting in a net-negative overall and a dump-off to Minnesota for a couple of future second-round picks to clear space for LeBron and Bosh. Beasley was involved in trade talks by Miami his entire two-year career.

2010-11:

A terrible Minnesota Timberwolves team that won only 17 games versus 65 losses was actually marginally better with Beasley on the court than off of it (Net: +2.2). Head coach Kurt Rambis had the genius idea to make Beasley a swing forward. He alternated Beasley between PF and SF (mostly SF), something Beasley had never done before. Rookie Kevin Love had a lot to do with that. 80% of Beasley's shots that year were jumpers as he moved further and further from the basket.

Breaking down his time between PF and SF, Beasley was significantly better at PF where he played 24% of the team's available PF minutes that season (net point diff: -1.0) vs. when he played SF for 33% of the available SF minutes (net point diff: -7.7).

2011-12:

New coach Rick Adelman made two major decisions as it pertained to Michael Beasley. First, Beasley was better at PF. Second, Kevin Love was a LOT better than Beasley at PF.

So they moved Beasley into the background. He went from starter to reserve, this time playing only a third of his team's available minutes. He played mostly behind Love at PF, taking 27% of the team's PF minutes with the rest of his time at SF. He was actually worse this season as a PF than at SF, though he played most of his minutes at PF.

The team wasn't too bad with him out there, but they were better when he sat the bench by about 2 points per game. His contract was not picked up, and the former #2 pick became a free agent.

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