After game 1s which saw the defending NBA Champion Lakers and #1 seed in the Eastern Conference Bulls upset by the Mavericks and Hawks, the favorites face critical game 2s on their home floors tonight hoping to avoid 2-0 deficits. Considering that the Lakers also lost game 1 of their first round series to the Hornets, then won in 6, and that the Hawks let the Magic back into their first round series with a game 2 loss, the Lakers and Bulls should be considered heavy favorites to win tonight.
Welcome to the seventh piece of the 2010-11 Phoenix SunsPlayer Evaluations. We here at Bright Side of the Sun have assembled somewhat of an All-Star cast of writers to put together alternative views on the players, front office, and coaches. Your favorite and least favorite Suns will no doubt get plenty of attention, and the compliments or criticism they deserve.
On the last day of his second ten-day contract with the Phoenix Suns, reserve point guard Zabian Dowdell was called into the film room at US Airways center to meet with Suns executives Lon Babby and Lance Blanks. Dowdell knew fully well the situation at hand; the Suns either had to sign the young guard for the remainder of the season or let him go.
As you well know, the Suns signed Dowdell for the rest of the season. "I went in there with an open mind, but I smiled," Dowdell said. "I tried to hold it all in, but it was a great moment."
Filling in for the injured Goran Dragic, Dowdell displayed supreme confidence and a defiant "me against the world" attitude. During his two ten-day contracts, part of the appeal of Zabian's game was his willingness and ability to utilize the pick and roll, setting up Hakim Warrick for some nasty dunks on multiple occasions. He also proved to be a less tentative player than Dragic, which helped his cause.
Yet, it wasn't his playmaking that helped the little point guard with the cool name work his way into our hearts. Even while displaying almost a complete lack of ability to create his own offense, it was his defensive mindset that set him apart from the rest of the group.
For years, the Suns have been searching for a backup point guard that can either stretch the lead or simply enter the game and not royally screw things up. Goran Dragic looked like the heir apparent for that role after last season's breakout performances both in the regular and postseason, but his regression during the 2010-11 campaign once again opened up that position. Even after the Suns traded Dragic to the Rockets for three point bomber and scoring connoisseur Aaron Brooks, the debate continued.
Dowdell proved to be a consummate professional when it came to the lack of consistency with his role. He understood that he was an unsigned rookie on a team trying to claw their way into the playoffs. He fully accepted his role as a defender and a playmaker, and played to his strengths. Even with an open shot from 11 feet away, he would look to set up his own teammates because that was simply what he was asked to do.
Now, let's get something out of the way. If Zabian Dowdell intends to continue forward with the Phoenix Suns, he has a laundry list of things he needs to improve on. He must improve upon his less-than-stellar assist to turnover ratio (1.76). He must work on his jump shot to be able to actually hit shots from time to time. He must continue to learn the offensive schemes and system of Alvin Gentry.
However, at times, it felt like the offense flowed better with Zabian in the game as opposed to Aaron Brooks. Brooks knows it, too. I can recall a specific instance where Brooks was starting for an injured Steve Nash, saw Dowdell sitting at the scorer's table ready to check in, and consequently showed more defensive effort than we've ever seen from him.
It was in that very instant that I decided I would rather see Zabian Dowdell see floor time over the clearly more talented Brooks.
Zabian Dowdell is the type of workhorse player that can earn himself a spot on an NBA team simply through dedication and effort. I oftentimes find myself making the comparison between him and former Phoenix Sun Louis Amundson. Both have limited skill sets, but due to their work ethic and willingness to do whatever it takes to try and help the team, they have found themselves a spot in this league.
As for the future of Dowdell, I cannot say what his future with this team will be. The Suns have a lottery pick that may very well be used to select a backup point guard. The team also has some very tradeable assets that could net a backup point man. With a lockout looming and the future of the team in question, Dowdell may very well find himself on the outside looking in.
However, my stance remains steadfast. Given an entire summer to (hopefully) expand his game, Zabian Dowdell should be given a fair shot to become the backup point guard for the 2011-12 season.
Those of you who enjoyed the chippiness and minor confrontations in the first game of the Heat-Celtics series should get to see plenty more of that as the series progresses. These two teams genuinely dislike each other, and the events leading to the Paul Pierce ejection were likely only the beginning.
In the Grizzlies-Thunder series, the Thunder will try to find an answer for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who combined for 54 points and 23 rebounds in game 1. Oklahoma City will need some of that defense Kendrick Perkins was supposed to bring to avoid going down 2-0 at home.
Welcome to the sixth piece of the 2010-11 Phoenix Suns Player Evaluations. We here at Bright Side of the Sun have assembled a cast of writers to put together alternative views on the players, front office, and coaches. Your favorite and least favorite Suns will no doubt get plenty of attention, and the compliments or criticism they deserve.
From Urban Dictionary:
1.chucker a. A really bad basketball player. b. Also, just a plain old idiot, any one who just throws anything in the air and hopes it makes a goal
You couldn't blame a Suns fan for rooting for Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus upon their entrance onto Planet Orange. Most of us had an inkling that Vince was no good and Vinsanity a decaying corpse rotting deep beneath the cold, cold ground. Nonetheless, we fans and Alvin Gentry held on to the delusion that he had something left in the tank to help the Suns make a playoff push. While it took fans only a couple of weeks to realize Carter was finished, Gentry was holding on to the idea of a rotation. Rotations create chemistry and chemistry was needed on a team that had once again reinvented themselves.
Mickael Pietrus was another intriguing player from Orlando. Known for his defense, he was much needed (in theory) to a Suns squad that was and has been lacking D for a couple of decades. Pietrus got a shot in the rotation from the beginning, and had a few games, including a 25 point outing against stiff competition from the LA Clippers. No doubt Pietrus was given the green light by Alvin Gentry as 30+% career three-point shooter. An while Pietrus proved he could score in bunches, he also proved he could miss in bushels.
(Ed note one bushel=35.239072 liters. Thus, bushel>bunches. I don't know how many bunches equal 35 liters. But it's probably a lot.)
Aside:One Master of the Obvious Prediction:
As it relates to Mickael Pietrus and the Orlando Magic: The Magic took a major dump in the first round of this season's playoffs. Expect a huge housecleaning, beginning at the top-Otis Smith, GM. Unable to advance past the 1st round of the playoffs with Dwight Howard looks bad. That Rashard Lewis signing a few years back looks really bad. The December trade with the Suns looks bad, and something that caught this author's eye looks bad as well:
Mickael Pietrus, in his contract year for the Golden State Warriors ('07-'08), averaged his 4th lowest ppg total as a professional in 5 years-(7.2), and: Decreased in PER, TS%, eFG%, 3P%, and games played and started compared to his prior season. Nevertheless, he received a $2 million dollar raise from Good ol' Otis and the Magic in the offseason. All to pry a role player away from the lowly Golden State Warriors. Of course the Suns took on MP, but that's a different story.
Into Some Numbers
Between Orlando and Phoenix, Pietrus shot 39% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc.
His average makes from 3 was right along his career average of 36%,
Mickael is a career 43% shooter from the field, yet managed to sink only 39% of his shots between Orlando and PHX last season.
In 22 MPG in Orlando he shot 39% behind the arc. in 18.1 MPG in Phoenix he shot 34% behind the arc. Yes he nearly doubled his attempts in Phoenix, so it's logical that his average go down. Still...
Abandoning the Numbers-And the Excuses
The Suns would not be broken-hearted if Pietrus declines his $5.3 million option for next season, but Pietrus said he wants to return. -Paul Coro
The bottom line is that Pietrus is just another role player on the Suns among a glut of them. Who deserves the chance? Who didn't get the playing time they deserved or who could have benefited the most from a full season with the team? MP is valuable in that he can play defense and he can get hot from time to time. Yet like many shoot first players, Peaches fell in love with the 3 to the point where green light equalled stupid light. Pump fake, go to the hoop pal, hit your man Gortat down below slashing to the hoop, talk to Jared Dudley it can be done. And for God sakes, don't F with the Lopez.
We can make the excuse for Pietrus that he came in mid-season, didn't mesh and all that, but I'm not buying it. It didn't take the Polish Hammer a whole off-season to figure things out. Further, there may not even be a real off season if the skies continue to darken among the CBA and lockout situations. And what's the guy going to pick up in the pre-season: "Stop shooting stupid shots?" Maybe.
The problem with Mickael Pietrus echoes the problem of 75% of the Phoenix Suns roster. There are many pieces, but no matter how you shift them around some of them are still not going to fit. MP just might be the jigsaw piece from the idealic-home-in-the-French-countryside that accidentally got tossed into the Golden Retriever-puppies-in-a basket box. It just may not fit.