I’m not sure if it’s possible to score 22 points quietly — especially when playing only 25 minutes. But Luis Scola certainly tried his best Saturday as Argentina beat Nigeria, 93-79, to clinch...

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Dudz tries hard. He really does.
Now that things have slowed down a bit on Plant Orange, I am continuing my review of the Suns' roster one position at a time, using stats courtesy of MySynergySports.com. I've already taken a look at the centers, power forwards and small forwards.

Center: Offense - Defense

Power Forward: Offense - Defense

Small Forward: Offense - Defense


Now it is time for the shooting guards. I've already written about how Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown were used on offense. Dudley is a pretty efficient all-around offensive player, while Shannon Brown has his strengths but doesn't play to them nearly enough. Now it is time to see how these two fared on the other end of the court: defense. The results may surprise you.

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

Jared Dudley has a pretty good defensive reputation. He works hard and understands how to play smart defense. However, in the NBA, smarts and hard work aren't enough. For those expecting Dudley to replace Grant Hill as the Suns' designated defensive stopper, don't expect much (particularly if Dudley has to defend shooting guards).

Dudley's most commonly defended play was spot-up jumpers at 37.6 percent of his plays. He was pretty good at contesting shots inside the arc as opponents only shot 38.9 percent against him overall, but he struggled defending shots beyond the arc where opponents connected on 41.1 percent of their attempts. The 3-pointers hurt his overall effectiveness, as his PPP against was 0.93 which was ranked 173rd overall.

He spent 18.1 percent of his plays defending isolations, and he did okay, but certainly didn't lock opponents down. Offensive players shot 38.1 percent against him and scored 0.83 PPP, which ranked him 183rd.

Dudley struggles a little more against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, a play he saw on 16.4 percent of his possessions. Ball-handlers shot 45.7 percent from the field and hit five of eight 3-point attempts for a PPP of 0.99 and a rank of 210.

However, he looks better in the the rest of the categories. He gave up 0.90 PPP against shooters running off screens and was ranked 91st. He gave up 0.70 PPP in post-up situations, ranked 40th overall. And he did a fine job defending hand-offs, holding opponents to 9-25 shooting and 0.77 PPP, ranked 22nd.

Dudley's overall PPP is pretty bad at 0.91, which ranks him 341 overall (that's almost Michael Redd bad). The poor numbers are a result of him struggling the most against the plays he defended most often. He did a good job of playing smart defense against hand-offs, post-ups and players running off screens, but those plays comprised only 126 of his 529 total plays defended. He struggled more in the areas where speed and athleticism really help to cover ground: isolations, spot-up shooters and pick-and-rolls.

An interesting note on Dudley: his 2010-11 numbers were very different than those from this past season. In fact, they are pretty much completely opposites. Where he struggled this past season, he did well in 2010-11, and vice versa. Perhaps the position change had something to do with this, but his 2009-10 numbers compared well to those of this past season, even though he played mostly small forward two years ago. I'm not sure how I should read into this. Do you guys have any theories?

Shannon Brown

Surprisingly enough, Shannon Brown actually graded out better overall than Dudley did.

His most commonly defended play was also spot-up shooting (28.9 percent), and he was pretty terrible at it. Like Dudley, he really struggled defending 3-point shots as opponents shot 42.7 percent against him. He didn't defend inside the arc quite as well as Dudley did, though, as opponents shot 40.2 percent overall. He gave up 1.07 PPP an was ranked 319th.

He defended pick-and-rolls almost as often at 25.7 percent, and fared much better. Ball-handlers scored 0.78 PPP against him, which was ranked 101st. The big difference between Dudley an Brown was the 3-point shooting.

Brown's speed served him well when chasing shooters off screen, which he did plenty of (18.4 percent of his plays). He held shooters to 38.1 percent overall and 3-12 shooting from deep, and gave up just 0.78 PPP (Rank 39).

Brown didn't defend isolations as much as Dudley did at only 11.8 percent of his possessions, but their numbers are pretty similar. Brown gave up 37.5 percent shooting, 0.84 PPP and was ranked 194th. The biggest difference between the two was that Brown was more prone to fouling.

Overall, Brown gave up 0.88 PPP and was ranked 280th. Brown wasn't that much better than Dudley, and Brown actually gave up a higher field goal percentage. The difference was opponents only shot 34.8 percent from 3-point range against Brown compared to an even 40 percent against Dudley.

Conclusion

Jared Dudley is a smart defender who plays hard but doesn't have the athleticism needed to really lock scorers down. Opponents also shot really well from deep against him, which may be his fault or may just be bad luck.

On the other hand, Brown has plenty of speed and strength but often loses his man which results in a lot of open jumpers.

If we could combine those two's strengths, we might have a really good defender on our hands. Sadly, that isn't possible, so we'll just have to make due as these are the guys who will be defending opposing shooting guards for the Suns this year.

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Before the Olympics, Suns forward Luis Scola said there’s always one Olympic team expected to contend for a medal that falls well short of expectations. After one quarter of play on Thursday...

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Jared Dudley can play basketball folks.

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

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.

Shannon Brown

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.

Conclusion

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).


Here's your new fan fave: P.J. Tucker!

Tucker is smaller than Louis Amundson (6-foot-6 vs. 6-foot-8), stockier, doesn't block shots and has much better hands. They don't even play the same position (Lou is a PF/C while Tucker is a SF/PF). Their strengths and weaknesses are really different. But they are both scrappy, both like to make a difference down low, and both are too small to be effective for long stretches at a time.

"First and foremost," Tucker, 27, and five years removed from his first NBA stint, said to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic after signing, "I'm going to help the young guys and always be a positive voice in the locker room. I look at myself as a defensive player first but I can rebound and handle the ball."

Tucker really made an impression on Dan Majerle in Summer League, turning 5.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game into a 2-year (mostly non-guaranteed) veteran-minimum contract with the Phoenix Suns.

"I love P.J.," Suns summer coach Dan Majerle, once one of the scrappiest NBA players himself, said in July. "He's right after my own heart. That guy plays extremely hard. He does everything you ask of him."

Which simply means that Suns fans, in moments of frustration with the effort level of Beasley and Johnson, will clamor repeatedly to #freepjtucker.

"I just stick my neck out and play hard," Tucker told Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. "I never let anyone outwork me."

So who is this P.J. Tucker? And if he's so good, why hasn't he played in the NBA in five years?

Tucker was drafted 35th overall in 2006 by Toronto but rarely played. Toronto's forwards were Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani (#1 overall rookie), Morris Peterson and Euro vet Jorge Garbajosa. The Raptors won 47 games that year, a year after winning only 27. Tucker just didn't get the minutes. He tells us himself what went wrong.

"It's been a long, grueling journey, but it's fulfilling," Tucker said. "I was so resentful in Toronto because I wasn't playing much. I was throwing fits. I was so young-minded. I didn't get the big picture or that it's a business. You have to understand your role on a team. You see kids come after you and do the same thing. So many never play and say they got screwed by the GM or coach. When you can be real with yourself and understand why, that's really when it comes to life."

Tucker attitude could come in handy on this youngish Suns squad that now boasts a couple of high draft picks (Beasley and Johnson) who have just not panned out yet in the NBA.

"The way I look at it now, I've grown up so much since then as a pro. It's unbelievable," Tucker told Ridiculous Upside last spring.

"I'm one of the real-est players there is with myself. So until guys can become real with themselves and look at their careers and ask, ‘where did I mess up,' it's only then that they can admit they could have handled a situation better. That way, going forward you know how the make the most out of each situation."

Will Beasley and Johnson listen to Tucker, a likely bit-player scrapping for minutes behind them on the depth chart? Only time will tell.

Tucker is a burly forward, a little short for his ideal PF position. Here's the draftexpress.com profile of Tucker in 2006.

If you can get past the fact that he is at least 2-3 inches undersized, Tucker has very good physical attributes. Unlike most players, though, he uses his to the fullest extent at all times. Tucker has an NBA ready frame and a super-hero's build, with very soft and strong hands, great upper and lower body strength, and a superb wingspan. He has a powerful first step and very solid ability to get off the ground and finish strong at the basket.

...

Defensively, Tucker is again tough as nails, fundamentally strong and absolutely tenacious due to his outstanding motor. He's not the most experienced perimeter defender, but will usually give his matchup hell regardless just because of the way he plays. As a rebounder is where he truly shines, going after every ball as if it was his last, and displaying superb timing and hands.

Read more at draftexpress.com

Tucker just couldn't get minutes in Toronto ahead of Bosh, Bargnani, Peterson and Garbajosa, and with a non-guaranteed contract he was one of the first out the door. As he said above, he wasn't the best locker-room guy or "team" guy back then.

But since then, Tucker has changed and figured out how to contribute to any team he joins. Hear former Sun Casey Jacobsen talk about Tucker. Sure appears that Tucker changed since being disappointed in Toronto.

"Of all my teammates that I've had, P.J. seamlessly integrated himself into the lineup and did so by doing all the little things and then eventually became the star of the team," said Jacobsen, who was a Brose Baskets Bamberg road roommate with Tucker. "Ten games into the season, it was clear that P.J. was our best player. He came to play every game or practice. The thing that I like most about him is he doesn't require you to run plays for him. He doesn't yell, 'Get me the ball.' He just found a way to be efficient and productive. Those are the kind of teammates that don't come along very often. What P.J. can do and the attitude he has is abnormal."

That's the kind of guy the Suns need.

And the kind of guy that will have Suns fans chanting "Free P.J. Tucker!"

Find lots of love for PJ Tucker on twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/search/pj%20tucker?q=pj+tucker

Choice one, from this week:

Tucker-tweet_medium


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