Do the Suns have their sights set on this guy?

Although NBA free agency doesn't start until July 10, 2012...it's apparently not too soon to start speculating about free agents and future acquisitions. A couple of interesting (or not) rumors surfaced involving the Phoenix Suns today--one involving arguably the greatest player to ever don a Suns jersey, and another about some guy in Cleveland.

Apparently, at least according to one writer, the Phoenix Suns are "in the lead" to eventually sign 6'6" Cleveland Cavaliers guard Alonzo Gee to a multi-year deal worth approximately $4 million per year. How credible is this information? Who knows...but even though there's another couple of months until free agency officially kicks off, it would make sense that the Suns' front office is at least exploring all their options.

In other news, as was also reported at SB Nation Arizona, Sam Smith of NBA.com wrote in his article that:

All indications in Phoenix are the Suns will make Steve Nash a limited offer and he’ll move on. It makes sense as the Suns will have $23 million in salary cap room and they’ve gone as far as they can go. The Suns were always a player destination, and this will test whether they still are under the frugal Robert Sarver management. Many believe Nash instead of chasing a title with a contender for a lesser salary will go back to Canada and the Raptors for a three-year deal and help bring their young players along.

Again, who knows how much, if any, of this has any substance to it. I personally can't imagine Steve Nash leaving Phoenix to go and NOT chase a title in Toronto. I understand the whole home-town thing, but let's not forget that Nash has already spent the majority of his professional career in Phoenix and is probably more committed to this city than he would be to Toronto.

I could understand Nash leaving Phoenix for Miami or New York to give himself a better chance of winning a championship before he eventually retires...but Toronto? I just don't see it. Phoenix is probably just as much of a home town to Steve as any place in Canada would be at this point. Not to mention, while he grew up in Victoria, B.C., he was actually born in Johannesburg, South Africa for what it's worth.


Photo

The boys at SB are talking mock draft even as the NBA playoffs are still happening, which, I suppose is what Mr. Babby should be doing as well. Tom Z has the Phoenix Suns taking Austin Rivers at #13. His logic?:

Part of Robert Sarver's campaign to begin trolling various members of the Boston Celtics franchise.

What do we know about Rivers? Well, if you are like me, you may not have paid attention to those smug Duke Blue Devils throughout the season. So here is what Draft Express had to say:

Standing 6-4 with a wiry frame that he's added some bulk to since his days at Winter Park High School, Rivers is a bit undersized for a NBA shooting guard, but compensates with a 6'7 wingspan. Athletically, the 19 year-old guard lacks elite strength and explosiveness as a leaper in traffic, but has very good quickness and fluidity, which he maximizes with the timing of his first step and ball-handling skills...His swagger, skill level, and scoring ability were unmistakable, even early on, but scouts also got an eyeful of his average decision-making, poor body language in the face of adversity and bouts with inefficiency from the perimeter...Rivers has the potential to be a terrific scoring threat in the NBA, even if the rest of his game still needs to be rounded out.


A very young, under-sized 2? HM. Call me skeptical. Could he be converted into a PG like his father? Some thoughts:

1. Why would the Suns, especially if Nash goes elsewhere, pick up a very young SG in the draft? Unless they had plans to make a run at Deron Williams (or other), you'd be looking at Sebastian Telfair running the point for the next few years?

but

2. Having some young depth and a scoring threat at the 2 IS a necessity. Assuming Shannon Brown leaves, which I am 98% sure he does for phat contract on a rich, crappy team. But would a 20 year old who is by most accounts, considered fairly "raw" be ready to play 15 minutes a game? Of course the Suns could sign a stop gap for a year.

3. Some say that Celtic coach Doc Rivers really really wants his boy on his team. But will it be his team next season. I suppose much is riding on how deep the Celts go in the playoffs. It's an aging team that is most likely headed towards the dreaded rebuilding phase of life. If Rivers stays, perhaps they look to make a deal to grab Austin, ahead of the Suns or ask for a Rajon Rondo-draft and trade. Hell, maybe they send over the Rondo for the rights to Rivers. Have fun with that exploration.

Poll
Should the Suns Draft Austin Rivers?

  274 votes | Results


The Matrix Down!

The 2012 NBA Playoff schedule was full this weekend. We had our first series end in a sweep and surprisingly, it was the Dallas Mavericks getting the early boot at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The New York Knicks dug deep and avoided the same fate by beating the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets extended their series with the Lakers with a home win.

In both cases, however, the favorite (Heat and Lakers) lead their series 3-1 so it's only a matter of time. The same 3-1 situation goes for the Boston Celtics who beat up the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers who survived overtime with the Orlando Magic. The San Antonio Spurs lead the Utah Jazz 3-0 and will go for the sweep Monday night.

The only surprise series is the 3-1 lead the Philadelphia 76ers hold over the severely banged up Chicago Bulls. Credit the 76ers Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes for providing much-needed scoring. Oh, and the Grizzlies are finding the Clippers to be much stiffer competition than expected.

Here's what's on the NBA Playoff schedule for Monday:

San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on TNT

The Jazz are going to lose this series, it's only a matter of protecting home court and avoiding the embarrassing sweep. History would have us believe the Spurs will drop this one and win at home, but then again, this Spurs team might be the best we've seen in a long time.

Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT on TNT

It's not entirely clear if the Clippers are better than we thought or if the Grizzlies are worse. Regardless, the Clips are up 2-1 in this series which making this game pivotal. It's hard to imagine the loser tonight moving on.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube


The Matrix Down!

The 2012 NBA Playoff schedule was full this weekend. We had our first series end in a sweep and surprisingly, it was the Dallas Mavericks getting the early boot at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The New York Knicks dug deep and avoided the same fate by beating the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets extended their series with the Lakers with a home win.

In both cases, however, the favorite (Heat and Lakers) lead their series 3-1 so it's only a matter of time. The same 3-1 situation goes for the Boston Celtics who beat up the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers who survived overtime with the Orlando Magic. The San Antonio Spurs lead the Utah Jazz 3-0 and will go for the sweep Monday night.

The only surprise series is the 3-1 lead the Philadelphia 76ers hold over the severely banged up Chicago Bulls. Credit the 76ers Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes for providing much-needed scoring. Oh, and the Grizzlies are finding the Clippers to be much stiffer competition than expected.

Here's what's on the NBA Playoff schedule for Monday:

San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on TNT

The Jazz are going to lose this series, it's only a matter of protecting home court and avoiding the embarrassing sweep. History would have us believe the Spurs will drop this one and win at home, but then again, this Spurs team might be the best we've seen in a long time.

Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT on TNT

It's not entirely clear if the Clippers are better than we thought or if the Grizzlies are worse. Regardless, the Clips are up 2-1 in this series which making this game pivotal. It's hard to imagine the loser tonight moving on.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube


JYD laughs in the face of "you can't."

Here at Bright Side of the Sun we take the words TOTAL COVERAGE pretty dang seriously.

While our beloved Suns are off taking nice vacations, we are still slaving away, attempting to provide you all with first class Suns coverage.

So friends, without further adieu, we present you with the Phoenix Suns Season in Review, 2011-12.

Up for discussion today is Jared Dudley.

There weren't many sure things going into this season for the Suns. Although the entire starting five returned from the end of last season, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye and Jared Dudley hadn't proven themselves as legitimate starters in the NBA, and the two proven starters, Steve Nash and Grant Hill, were creeping dangerously close to age 40.

Overall, that starting five proved to be quite effective, and Dudley was one of the team's most dependable players, finishing the season second in scoring, 3-point %, 3-pointers made and minutes played, and third in win shares/48 minutes. Along with Gortat, Dudley was somewhat of an iron man, missing only one game and playing big minutes in this sprint of a lockout-shortened season.

One could look at Dudley's 12.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and conclude that he under-produced and is in need of replacement. For a team that went 33-33 and missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, that's a perfectly reasonable assessment. If an upgrade is available, a pure go-to scorer who can lift this team to a higher place in the Western Conference's pecking order, I'm all for it.

But finding a clear upgrade from Dudley won't be so easy and, unless a star shooting guard is acquired, Dudley has no intention of relinquishing that starting spot.

That spirit, giving no ground and constantly fighting to prove himself, is what makes Jared Dudley. It's remarkable how accurate the scouting reports on Dudley were as he was entering the NBA. From NBA Draft Net's Matthew Maurer and Aran Smith:
  • "Plays the game with toughness and a highly competitive will to win. Understands the game like few others as Dudley's basketball IQ might be among the best in the collegiate ranks"
  • "Understands how to initiate contact and draw fouls from opposing defenders. When doing this he will incorporate a number of pump fakes to get defenders off their feet."
  • "Scrappy player who hustles for loose balls and will do whatever dirty work is necessary to win."
  • "An overachiever, maximizes his talents."
  • "Work ethic is top notch as one only has to see how he has developed since entering Boston College's program as a freshman."

On the negative end:

  • "Too small to play in the post and lacks the speed, athleticism and quickness to guard perimeter players."
  • "Has yet to fully create offense for himself off the dribble."
  • "Not especially explosive or athletic."

Well, damn, that sure sounds like the Jared Dudley (now five seasons into his NBA career) we know, doesn't it? The same questions remain: is he athletic enough to keep up with other wings on defense? Can he create for himself adequately?

One question that he has answered is that he's an excellent NBA shooter, as his .409 career 3-point % and .546 career eFG% aren't far behind Steve Nash's .428 and .557. He's not only a "try hard" player, he's a real spot-up shooting threat.

As a shooting guard playing with Nash, spot-up shooting is a critically important skill possessed by Dudley. But the Suns need more scoring, more of a go-to player at that position, someone closer to Jason Richardson in 2009-10 or Joe Johnson in 2004-05. Here are comparisons

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/48
1 Jared Dudley 2011-12 26 65 2020 15.4 .575 .547 5.4 11.4 8.4 8.8 1.3 0.7 9.1 17.7 115 109 4.0 1.1 5.1 .121
2 Jason Richardson 2009-10 29 79 2485 16.6 .574 .553 3.9 13.9 9.2 8.8 1.3 0.9 7.9 20.8 116 111 5.0 1.7 6.6 .128
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/6/2012.

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/48
1 Jared Dudley 2011-12 26 65 2020 15.4 .575 .547 5.4 11.4 8.4 8.8 1.3 0.7 9.1 17.7 115 109 4.0 1.1 5.1 .121
2 Joe Johnson 2004-05 23 82 3240 15.1 .556 .536 4.2 9.5 7.0 13.2 1.2 0.5 10.5 19.0 113 110 5.8 1.7 7.6 .112

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/6/2012.

Dudley's an efficient, effective player. He's not always sexy and doesn't fill up the box score as some would like. As much as I'd like the Suns roster to be full of athletes who throw down pretty dunks and make the game look easy, having players who are smart, tough, hard working, steady producers is just as important.

The criticism I have of Dudley as a starter is that he's not aggressive enough in looking to score. He shoots at a high percentage, he can draw fouls, and has a little "old man's game" going to the hoop. Maybe it was because it was his first season with the starters, but he deferred on some open shots. If you're the best option, fire away!

Dudley weighed in on the topic of whether he should be a starter, replying to a Tweet from our own Toon Army Sun:

RT @ToonArmySun: @JaredDudley619 Do you expect to still be a starter next season? ( What u think?)

— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) April 27, 2012

That's the spirit of Dudley, never backing down from a challenge. And that's what makes me put all the "he's not fast enough and doesn't jump high enough" stuff in its place. He brings a professional approach, shoots accurately and displays leadership. Dudley played a nice starting SG for us this season and, of all positions to upgrade, SG isn't at the top of the list.

Coming into this season, Dudley had started 37 games total in his career. This season he started 60. Nobody knew how he could perform as a starter, then he showed up and contributed every night.

Based on expectations and performance, I give Dudley a solid B+. Replace him and send him back to be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate if we can. Until then, he's getting it done with the starters, at a salary of less than $13M total over the next three seasons. This makes Dudley one of the Suns' most valuable assets.

"How can you not get better with someone who makes everybody better?" Dudley replied when asked whether the Suns can rebuild with Nash. An excellent question, and it might be asked back of him.

Poll
Should the Suns upgrade from Jared Dudley at shooting guard? If so, with who? (reasonable suggestions, please)

  277 votes | Results


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