PHOENIX — Ronnie Price has played seven NBA seasons, yet he’s still searching for a defined role in the league. As John Hollinger wrote in his player profile before the season, Price is an...

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CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 21:  Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels smiles after a pass against the Texas Longhorns during their game at Dean Smith Center on December 21, 2011 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

With the NBA Draft fast approaching on June 28, we at Bright Side of the Sun want to cover all the bases regarding the possible players who the Suns could draft with the (likely) #13th pick.

Depending on the decisions the Suns make in free agency this season, nearly every position could be considered an area of need.

Being that this is considered the most talented draft in recent years, there will likely be several very good players left on the board when it's time for the Suns to make their selection--and they'll likely have a very tough decision to make as to which player they think will be the best fit for this organization.

So what better way to start off our NBA draft coverage than with the position at the very heart of the team?

Without further adieu, I give you my favorite point guard of the draft...Kendall Marshall

Kendall Marshall is a 6'4" point guard from the University of North Carolina who is known for his outstanding passing ability and his game management skills.

Marshall averaged 9.7 assists per game this season, which was second in the NCAA behind Scott Machado of Iona, who averaged 9.9. But Marshall played against much tougher competition than Machado--competing in the ACC at North Carolina, one of the best basketball schools in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.

However, though Marshall is almost unanimously regarded as the best passing point guard in the nation, there are also some concerns over his ability to score at the next level along with his mediocre athleticism.

So would Marshall be the right player for the Suns to take with the 13th pick in the draft? Read on after the jump as I attempt to help answer this question.

Here are the stats from Marshall's two seasons at UNC:

Basic Statistics

Year GP Min Pts FG FGA FG% 2Pt 2PtA 2P% 3Pt 3PtA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def TOT Asts Stls TOs PFs
2010/11 37 24.6 6.2 2.1 4.9 41.8 1.5 3.5 43.4 0.5 1.4 37.7 1.6 2.3 69.0 0.2 1.9 2.1 6.2 1.1 2.5 1.4
2011/12 36 33.0 8.1 2.9 6.3 46.7 2.1 4.1 52.7 0.8 2.2 35.4 1.5 2.2 69.6 0.2 2.4 2.6 9.8 1.2 2.8 1.6

Efficiency Statistics

Player Info Shooting Ratios Passing Ratios Defensive Ratios
Year GP Min PTs/g FGA/g Pts/Play TS% eFG% FTA/FGA 3PA/FGA Ast/g Ast/FGA A/TO PPR STL/g PF/g
2010/11 37 24.6 6.2 4.9 0.73 0.52 0.47 0.46 0.29 6.2 1.26 2.50 6.56 1.1 1.4
2011/12 36 33.0 8.1 6.3 0.81 0.56 0.53 0.35 0.35 9.8 1.56 3.48 11.00 1.2 1.6

Usage Statistics

Player Info Complete Metrics Possession Info Possession Ratios
Year GP Min PER EFF EFF/40 WS/40 Pos/g Tm Pos/g % Tm Pos Pts/Pos FGA/Pos FTA/Pos Ast/Pos TO/Pos
2010/11 37 24.6 14.5 9.6 15.6 5.4 7.4 72.9 10.2 0.84 0.66 0.31 0.84 0.33
2011/12 36 33.0 17.1 15.1 18.2 7.2 8.8 72.9 12.1 0.92 0.71 0.25 1.10 0.32

Looking at these stats it's easy to see Marshall's biggest strengths and weaknesses. His passing is of course his greatest asset while his shooting and scoring seems to be only average at best. But there's much more to Marshall as a player than just that.

Marshall excels at passing in pick and roll plays as well as in transition, and his court vision and overall feel for the game are unmatched. Anyone who watched Marshall play in college will likely tell you that Marshall is also a great floor general who does a fantastic job of leading his team on the court and who makes a difference simply by being in the game.

This is why Marshall's impact on the game is sometimes hard to quantify in stats. For example, after Marshall's outstanding game against Creighton during the NCAA tournament in which he fractured his wrist, North Carolina was never the same. Although the Tarheels had other top prospects such as Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller, without Marshall they often looked lost and disorganized on the floor and were barely able to get by Ohio in the Sweet 16 before finally being eliminated by Kansas in the Elite Eight.

If Marshall would have stayed healthy, many analysts and avid NCAA basketball fans (such as myself) believed North Carolina would advance all the way through the tournament to meet Kentucky in the championship game. But without Marshall at the helm, North Carolina was simply a sum of various parts without the glue to hold them all together. Does that sound like someone else we know on the Suns?

So just how good is Kendall Marshall?

Well, according to DraftExpress.com, Marshall's 10.7 assists per 40 minutes adjusted stats this season aren't just the best of this draft class, but the best in at least the last decade.

The biggest questions about Marshall are about his average jump shot and his less than ideal athleticism. His underwhelming athleticism is also a concern on the defensive side of the ball as he has sometimes struggled to keep up with quicker guards. While both of these areas are legitimate concerns, Marshall has also shown the ability to score when necessary and also displayed an improved jump shot during the NCAA tournament, and his solid defensive fundamentals help him compensate for his lack of quickness as well.

In addition, Kendall's intelligence and craftiness in and around the paint help make up for his average athleticism. Again, does this sound familiar?

I believe that Marshall would be the perfect fit for the Suns, who are already used to his style of play from one of the best pass-first point guards of all time, Steve Nash. Who better to become the heir apparent to Steve's throne than a player who shows the same kind of potential?

I'm not saying Kendall Marshall will be the next Steve Nash...The odds of landing another player of Nash's caliber are extremely low as he is the type of player that only comes around once every couple decades, if that. But Kendall Marshall does have a good chance of becoming a very talented player in his own right, and his rare ability as a true point guard makes him a very attractive option for the Suns in this year's draft.


*All stats provided by DraftExpress.com

Poll
Would you approve of the Suns drafting Kendall Marshall with the 13th pick in the draft?

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After a few weeks off, we begin the process of looking at the various options the Suns have for rebuilding their team. We also get into the Spurs-Thunder series and some other fun stuff.

Hosted by Bryan Gibberman and Seth Pollack and presented by Arizona Sports 620 and SB Nation Arizona.

Subscribe on iTunes or stream online after the jump.

Enjoy


Nobody scores on Robin Lopez, and I mean nobody.

Summer has begun, classes are over and I have nothing but time on my hands (until I get a summer job anyway). So, armed with MySynergySports.com, I've decided to assign myself the task of going through the Suns' roster and breaking down the usage and success rate of each position group.

Earlier I took a look at how Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez were used on offense by the Suns this year and how effective they were. Now it's time to examine the centers on the other end of the court: defense.

Gortat and Lopez both have pretty good defensive reputations. Make the jump to see if the numbers support this belief.

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.

One thing to keep in mind on these defensive breakdowns is that Synergy does not track help defense. All these numbers relate strictly to individual man defense.

With that out of the way, let's dive into the numbers.

Marcin Gortat

At a listed 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, Gortat is a bit undersized and at times struggled against some of the league's bigger centers. This has lead many here to question his ability to hold his ground in the post. Looking at the numbers, most teams were not able to take advantage of him too much.

Gortat defended post-ups on 44.7% of his plays, and he gave up 0.77 PPP, which gave him a ranking of 91. He held opponents to only 40% shooting. One are where his size disadvantage might cause him problems is how often he fouls, but that is not played out in the numbers as he only fouled his opponent 6.8% of the time, which equals out to 15 shooting fouls all year. Gortat also forced turnovers 10.9% of the time, which is another check in his favor.

Overall, Gortat gives up points in the post at a 39.4% clip. Gortat is not an elite post defender, but he was still quite good. He holds opponents to a low field goal percentage and doesn't foul very often, and you can't ask much more than that.

Where Gortat's size could be a problem at times, his mobility gives him a real advantage against a lot of opposing big men. After post-ups, Gortat's second-most defended play (24.9%) was spot-up shooting, and he did really well. Gortat's 0.80 PPP was good for a rank of 53 and he held opponents to 39.5% shooting. He even did well closing out all the way to the three-point line, where opponents only converted six of 22 attempts. Spot-up shooters scored 39% of the time against Gortat's defense.

Gortat's mobility is also a plus while defending the pick-and-roll, which he did 14.8% of the time. He gave up 0.96 PPP, which ranked him 69th. Roll men scored against him 49.7% of time (compare this to Gortat's %score on offense, which is 63%). His foul numbers are low here as well.

Gortat faced isolations 11.9% of the time, and he was ranked 127th with a 0.75 PPP. He was merely decent in this area (although his %TO was 18.6).

Overall, Gortat's PPP against was 0.81, good for a rank if 127, and his %Score against was 40.5. Gortat is savvy enough to hold his own in the post and his mobility allows him to close out on spot-up shooters and defend the pick-and-roll quite well. Gortat is not Dwight Howard or Tyson Chandler, but he is a very good defender and his mobility fits our defensive scheme quite well.

Images_medium

Marcin is pretty good at closing out on shooters.

Robin Lopez

Where Gortat is a bit small for a center, Robin Lopez is a true seven-footer with some meat on his bones. One would think that his size, strength and length would give him an edge over Gortat in post defense. However, the numbers show them to be almost equally effective. Lopez gives up 0.76 PPP and ranks 78th, both slightly better than Gortat. However, opponents convert at a higher rate against Lopez as his field goal percentage against is 43.5%. He makes up for this by forcing more turnovers (16.5 %TO), though, so his %Score is slightly better at 39.2%.

Lopez isn't as mobile as Gortat though and has more trouble closing out on shooters, as he gave up .96 PPP is spot-up situations with a %Score of 45.8%.

Lopez has seen limited defensive plays on other play types as his isolation and pick-and-roll roll man totals combined are only 45, but he did well on both, holding opponents' %Score to roughly 36%.

Overall, Lopez finished with a 0.81 PPP against and a rank of 127 which tied him with Gortat (albeit with a much smaller sample size). He only fouled a shooter 4.3% of the time, which is better than I would have thought. Opponents scored against him 39.9% of the time, which is slightly better than against Gortat.

Conclusion

As was the case on offense, the numbers point to Gortat and Lopez being a pretty good defensive duo. Both are plus defenders overall and each have their strengths. Gortat's mobility gives him an edge while closing out on shooters and defending the pick-and-roll, and he can hold his own in the post. Lopez's size is also an asset and having him means we don't have much of a drop-off defensively when Gortat takes a seat.

One interesting thing to note is how much more Gortat is used in the pick-and-roll versus the centers he plays against. I suppose that feeds into the thought that Gortat would be better at PF. But he's doing just fine at center for the Suns.

The Suns have a decision to make with Robin Lopez. His overall numbers are pretty good, especially for a back-up, and we've seen him play even better than his final numbers indicate. Having a seven-footer with some ability is nice, but how much is that advantage worth? We'll see this offseason.


PHOENIX — Robin Lopez followed up his disaster 2010-11 season in which he averaged 6.4 points and 3.2 boards with a 2011-12 campaign in which he produced 5.4 and 3.3. He played only 14 minutes...

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