20130211_mjr_su5_143

So many trades, so many moving parts, so much change. Do you like change? If you don't feel free to turn off the NBA's version of "real life NBA2K13" as there are very few rosters that will look the same as last year with all the activity this off-season.

Before looking at the Phoenix Suns off-season we offer our take on the Dwightmare and then we assess the off-season to date for the team. Again, before the off-season has technically begun.

Seventh Edition: Five Questions on the Free-Agency

1. Breaking the Ice: Let's get it out of the way now... Thoughts on Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets?

Dave King: Should be a good move for Dwight to rekindle some of what he had in Orlando. Now he's survived a year of being talked down to by Kobe and realized he'd rather be "the man" again. Except that time he was "the man" he complained about not having enough help and got his coach fired. He's got that again in Houston. So, what could go wrong?

Jacob Padilla: This is where I expected him to end up, so no surprise. Depending on how they can round out their roster (Casspi is your first post-Dwight addition?), they'll be hosting a first round playoff series at the least. One of the most efficient volume scorers in the league combined with the most dominant defensive presence? They're going to be good.

Jim Coughenour: Good for them. Proof that a team can rebuild without bottoming out. Daryl Morey is a rockstar.

Kris Habbas: They got their guy. That is something that every team wants to say at the end of the off-season, some do, and most don't; but the Rockets did. They will have to develop chemistry, which puts them behind the Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, and Spurs to start the season.

Richard Parker: Glad it's over. I thought for a while that Houston was the best place for him so I think he made the right decision.

Sean Sullivan: What a lovely mess. As for the fit I think Howard will do better in Houston overall. The Rockets might make some noise next season, but OKC is still a better team.

2. Should the team be more active this summer?

JP: Yes, a little bit. I'd really like to see Luis Scola moved first and foremost. Perhaps see what our options are for moving Morris, Morris, Marshall, and/or Brown. Other than that, I don't see a need to do much else.

JC: Yes. No reason to stop the positive momentum of the last couple months.

KH: Is that code for, "Should the team trade Michael Beasley?" Then yes. Other than that, there is not much more this team can do to improve the long-term trajectory of the franchises success.

RP: They should be more active in terms of pursuing trades (to send out veterans out for young talent or picks - especially Scola) but not necessarily in free agency.

SS: I don't think so, unless by active you mean trading Gortat and Scola for draft picks.

DK: Yes. Absolutely, in trades as I've said all along. Gortat and Scola should be traded for youth, and that youth needs to be the hard-working kind that new coach Hornacek can mold.

3. On the whole are you satisfied with the moves? Would you change anything?

JC: Yes. Would have handled the draft slightly different, but even that was still a win.

KH: Absolutely. They got younger, more athletic, and the team is in a position to evaluate the group to see what they have going forward. The one thing they did not address is perimeter shooting, but at this stage that is just nitpicking.

RP: I'm definitely satisfied, especially with the Dudley for Bledsoe deal. It's easy for me to say that I would have changed the players we picked in the draft but I trust McDonough (for now) so I'll just wait to see how they pan out.

SS: Very much so. Gaining Bledsoe and an $8 mil expiring contract in Butler for Dudley was great. Gives the Suns talent, youth, and options going forward

DK: We are all refreshing our twitter feeds (or this site) by the hour, so it seems like the Suns are working at a snail's pace. Yet, it's only July 8. The moratorium doesn't end for two days and Scola can't be dealt for another week (by CBA rule, a year from the amnesty waiver claim). The Suns will do something by end of month.

JP: Yes, I'm satisfied. Ryan McDonough has been aggressive and appears to be following an asset acquisition plan. Hopefully after next year we'll really start to see that plan playing out.

4. The team is basically at the cap; do you expect them to surpass it to acquire more talent?

KH: Shedding salary is a need, but not as urgently as for other teams. They are not strangled by a lot of bad contracts. In terms of productivity the Beasley contract is very bad, but it does not hurt their flexibility going forward.

RP: Not at all. Makes no sense for us to try and pay more to acquire talent in a season destined for many, many losses. I expect them to maybe sign a minimum contract and pursue trades.

SS: No, not at all. They aren't contending so no reason to at this point.

DK: As mentioned above, via trade. If the Suns can somehow dump Beasley on someone, all the better. It's imperative, in my opinion, to trade Beasley this summer.

JP: No. There's no need to. The roster is full already and the Suns are right at the cap. A multi-player trade that shakes up the roster is the only reason I can think of for making more moves and spending more money.

JC: I would like to see them make a move to shed some salary to maintain flexibility for deals at the deadline and heading into next year's draft.

5. Speaking of being at the cap, how do you grade the off-season so far?

RP: You know how much I value grades. That being said, I give the Bledsoe trade an A- and a TBD (after a few years) for the draft so I guess the final grade is an A-.

SS: "B+". We would all like to see Gortat moved for a 2014 1st, but if the opportunity isn't there yet then don't force it. The move we did make and although I personally wanted McLemore or Noel (if no red flag), our draft picks make a lot of sense overall and I trust their judgment.

DK: So far, I'd say a B+. The Suns have brought in youth - Bledsoe, Len, and Goodwin - while getting even more cap flexibility in coming years. Bledsoe would represent the first Suns player deserving of a rookie deal extension in seven years (Diaw/Barbosa in 2006).

JP: I'll continue the theme by handing out a B+.

JC: B+

KH: It was what the team needed. Encompassing the front office changes (Ryan McDonough and his staff), the coaching (Jeff Hornacek and his staff), and the moves made to the roster this has been a long coming in terms of change. It is still incomplete, but overall the team has made a lot of good moves and no great moves, a solid "B" seems appropriate.

6. BONUS: If you could play GM and make one sweeping move this off-season for the Suns what would it be?

SS: More like what I would have done. I would have strongly considered trading with Orlando to draft Oladipo...Depending on the cost. Otherwise, would have really tried for a Gortat/McCollum swap.

DK: Would find a taker for Scola and Beasley while bringing in more youth and/or cap flexibility. Scola needs to go to a winner, while Beasley just needs another fresh start to reach his potential.

JP: Bring back the Purple!

JC: Get to work on that whole Al McCoy in the ring of honor deal. That was a great fanpost and a great idea.

KH: More Harry and Harrison Gorilla!!! In all seriousness, the team just needs to stay the course. There is a difference between being idly inactive and being patient. The team is in a position to sit on their hands and be patient going forward... Golf claps around the office everyone.

RP: I would shop Scola very, very hard until I find a taker willing to give up their late pick (maybe even a second rounder) and/or young talent and/or an expiring contract. I wouldn't necessarily force a Gortat trade but I would entertain offers if any team is willing to surrender a first rounder or a young piece.

The final holes of the Phoenix Suns’ 2013 Summer League roster have been filled, and as expected, the majority of the team will be quite familiar. Archie Goodwin, the 29th pick in the 2013...

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20120718_lbm_aj4_298

The Phoenix Suns will bring five guys from last year's Suns roster to Las Vegas this weekend for Summer League play, along with two of their three draftees: PG/SG Archie Goodwin (29th overall) and PF Alex Oriakhi (57th overall).

C Alex Len (5th overall) will not participate while he recovers from a stress fracture in his ankle.

New Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek and his new coaching staff will get their first chance to work with the five least-tenured Phoenix Suns players: Markieff and Marcus Morris (23 years old, third SL), Kendall Marshall (21, second SL), Diante Garrett (24, second SL) and P.J. Tucker (27, third SL). Only PF Markieff Morris has been with the Suns more than 12 months.

NBA players can join the Summer League squad up to three times. As of last month, Tucker's expected SL contribution is simply to join the practice sessions and possibly play in 1 or 2 games. Tucker is allowed to play in Summer League because this is just his third NBA offseason (1 with Toronto when he was drafted, then last summer with the Suns squad).

The plan

The young(ish) Suns get their first taste of Jeff Hornacek's planned schemes for the coming year, giving them a chance to get a leg up on training camp and the 2013-14 season over the veterans. Hornacek has indicated a desire to play a fast-paced style, and the Suns set that tone with having one of the toughest tests (a 3-minute sprint) in pre-draft workouts around the league. The acquisitions of Goodwin (draft) and Eric Bledsoe (pending trade) further cement the Suns desire to move in a faster direction.

An interesting subplot is the usage of Kendall Marshall, Archie Goodwin and Diante Garrett. The Suns want to see all three at PG, but these 40-minute games won't allow for that luxury. This may give Suns fans a chance to see how (or if) Hornacek plans to use the Suns two best players and projected starters - PG Goran Dragic and PG Eric Bledsoe - in a two-point-guard lineup next season.

The schedule

  • two-a-day practices starting tomorrow through Thursday (July 9-11)
  • fly to Vegas on Friday (July 12)
  • play their first game on Saturday (July 13) against Minnesota
  • play two more games next week (July 15, 16)
  • participate in a tournament the following weekend (July 17-22), with seedings based on performance in games 1-3 (wins/losses by game, by quarter, etc.)

The roster

(No. Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate Prior to NBA/Home Country Yrs Plyd)

  • 20 Thomas Abercrombie F 6-6 207 07/05/87 Washington State/New Zealand R
  • 2 Chris Babb G 6-5 225 02/14/90 Iowa State/USA R
  • 22 Dionte Christmas G 6-5 205 09/15/86 Temple/USA R
  • 25 Jake Cohen F 6-10 235 09/25/90 Davidson/USA R
  • 10 Diante Garrett G 6-4 175 11/03/88 Iowa State/USA 1
  • 29 Archie Goodwin G 6-5 198 08/17/94 Kentucky/USA R
  • 12 Kendall Marshall G 6-4 200 08/19/91 North Carolina/USA 1
  • 15 Marcus Morris F 6-9 235 09/02/89 Kansas/USA 2
  • 11 Markieff Morris C 6-10 245 09/02/89 Kansas/USA 2
  • 41 Arinze Onuaku C 6-9 276 07/13/87 Syracuse/USA R
  • 45 Alex Oriakhi F 6-9 255 06/21/90 Missouri/USA R
  • 17 PJ Tucker F 6-6 235 05/05/85 Texas/USA 1

Bright Side Coverage

BSotS' own Jim Coughenour will be in Vegas to watch games and interview players over the first weekend. He will watch the Suns opening game against Portland (with Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Meyers Leonard) as well as a number of other games.

What to expect in SL

The most important thing to remember from Summer League is that happens in Summer League stays in Summer League. It's in Vegas after all. Marcus Banks scored 44 points once. Marco Belinelli was a star. And those are two of the "here's the next ______________!"

For the Suns a summer ago, the week gave us a lot of clues.

The bad

Rookie PG Kendall Marshall was a disappointment - only looking like an NBA player in one of three games. He led the SL in assists per game, but couldn't keep opposing players in front of him on defense and couldn't buy a shot.

Markieff Morris was regularly the best player on the floor for either team, but fouled a lot and had a low conversion percentage.

Both of those developments foretold what would happen over the next season. Marshall was still an enigma and Markieff still had trouble making shots.

The good

Both P.J. Tucker and Diante Garrett played themselves onto the Suns regular season roster based on their Summer League play, and Tucker ended up starting a lot of games. No SL = no Tucker.

It’s been a wild week of free agent signings and trades in the NBA. I asked the Godfather (Michael Schwartz) and Michael Corleone (Kevin Zimmerman) of Valley of the Suns to join me for a 3-on-5 to...

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20130403_ajl_ak6_525

After an eventful offseason the Suns now have a pretty crowded backcourt with returning starting point guard Goran Dragic, shiny new acquisition and former back-up to Chris Paul at the point in Los Angeles Eric Bledsoe, lottery pick and distribution specialist Kendall Marshall heading into his sophomore season, and newly drafted and raw project Archie Goodwin.

However, how many of these players are actually point guards? Who is good at what? Can they play together? Let's look at the numbers to find out.

**Disclaimer: In typical Jacob fashion, this ended up really long. I included tables with all the relevant numbers (stats taken from Basketball Reference and MySynergySports) if you'd like to come to your own conclusions.

Measurements

First, let's take a look at the physical measurements.

Player Height Weight Wingspan
Goran Dragic 6'4" 200 lbs Unknown
Eric Bledsoe 6'1.5" 192 lbs 6'7.5"
Kendall Marshall 6'4.25" 198 lbs 6'5.5"
Archie Goodwin 6'5.25" 189 lbs 6'9.5"

With the exception of Bledsoe, Phoenix's point guards have excellent size for the position. All three of them can add some strength to their frames, but they have the height to match up with plenty of shooting guards. As for Bledsoe, at just under 6-foot-2 he lacks the height of the other three. However, he has the longest wingspan among the group and is the most athletic by far (no disrespect to Dragic or Goodwin who are great athletes in their own right, but Bledsoe is a freak). He could pester some of the more ball-dominant shooting guards in the league for stretches.

The Suns' backcourt might be a little undersized against teams that can throw bigger two-guards like Joe Johnson and Kobe Bryant out there, but in general I think these four guys have the physical tools to play at the same time.

Per 36 Statistics

Name PTS FGM FGA FG% 3FGM 3FGA 3FG% FTM FTA FT% AST TOV AST/TOV OREB DREB TREB STL BLK
Goran Dragic 15.8 5.6 12.6 0.443 1.2 3.8 0.319 3.4 4.5 0.748 7.9 3.0 2.7 0.8 2.5 3.3 1.7 0.4
Eric Bledsoe 14.9 5.9 13.2 0.445 0.7 1.8 0.397 2.5 3.1 0.791 5.4 3.2 1.7 1.8 3.4 5.2 2.5 1.3
Kendall Marshall 7.3 2.9 7.7 0.371 1.2 3.7 0.315 0.4 0.7 0.571 7.3 2.9 2.5 0.2 1.9 2.2 1.1 0.2
Archie Goodwin 16.0 5.4 12.3 0.440 0.6 2.2 0.266 4.6 7.3 0.637 3.0 3.5 0.9 1.6 3.6 5.2 1.2 0.5

Here's what these guys produced this past season stretched out to NBA starter's minutes to make an apples to apples comparison. Well, as apple-y as possible considering Goodwin's numbers are from playing with and against college players, but we'll make due.

Looking at these averages, Dragic comes out looking like the most impressive point guard. He gives the best combination of scoring and distributing of the four. 16 and eight are very solid numbers for a point guard, and Dragic has the best assist-to-turnover ratio of the group.

Bledsoe isn't as good offensively as Dragic is, putting up just a 15-5 per 36. He doesn't score as much as Dragic and his assist-to-turnover is pretty poor for a point guard. However, his athleticism really shines through in some of his other stats. 5.2 rebounds (including 1.8 on the offensive end) and 1.3 blocks for a 6-foot-2 guard are insane, and 2.5 steals is a really solid number as well.

Marshall is the closest to Dragic in terms of pure point guard numbers with 7.3 assists and a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. However, this number is a bit skewed. Marshall saw plenty of two to three minute garbage time stints during the season and it's hard to accumulate stats like that, especially considering who he was playing with. We saw Marshall's assists numbers hit double-digits when he was given starter's minutes when Dragic was held out. However, that doesn't quite make up for his complete lack of scoring ability. 7.3 points per 36 is just awful and he only attempts 7.7 shots. We all know Marshall has a long way to go to learn how to score, so I'm not telling you anything new.

While the numbers for the first three look at least somewhat similar, Archie Goodwin's don't look like the others at all. In fact, they look like the numbers of a shooting guard. The highest scoring average, by far the lowest assist average, a sub-one assist-to-turnover ratio, good rebounding numbers... I don't see a point guard at all. To be fair, he did play most of his minutes at shooting guard when Kentucky's real point Ryan Harrow was healthy so it makes sense. One area where Goodwin shines is the ability to get to the free-throw line, with over seven attempts per 36. Too bad he wasn't able to capitalize as much as he should have with his shooting struggles.

Advanced Statistics

Name TS% eFG% AST% TOV% USG% OREB% DREB% TRB% STL% BLK% PER ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/48
Goran Dragic 0.540 0.491 35.7 16.8 21.7 2.6 8.0 5.2 2.5 0.8 17.5 109 109 4.1 1.6 5.7 0.106
Eric Bledsoe 0.513 0.473 23.5 17.9 22.5 6.1 11.1 8.6 3.7 3.0 17.5 102 101 1.1 2.6 3.7 0.115
Kendall Marshall 0.455 0.447 29.4 26.6 13.6 0.6 6.3 3.4 1.6 0.4 7.8 91 112 -0.4 0.2 -0.2 -0.012
Archie Goodwin 0.509 0.464 16.8 18.1 27.2 5.6 10.4 8.2 2.1 1.4 16.9 100.1 98.6 1.6 1.5 3.1 0.142

The advanced stats reinforce most of what we see in the basic numbers above. Dragic looks good, with the highest assist percentage and lowest turnover percentage. The athleticism of Bledsoe, and to a lesser extent Goodwin, shines through in the rebounding, block and steal percentages. Dragic is tops in offensive rating and offensive win shares, while Bledsoe and Goodwin both look good on the defensive end.

One thing that all four have in common is mediocre to poor shooting percentages. Kendall Marshall can't shoot at this point and we know it; however, the others aren't much better. Dragic really struggled this year, particularly from 3-point range. Bledsoe shot a good percentage, but as you can see in the per 36 table, he took less than two threes per 36; it's not really part of his game and he's not a great shooter. Marshall and Goodwin both have broken jumpers that need plenty of work. This will be the biggest obstacle for these players to overcome in order to play together.

Synergy Statistics

Let's take a closer look at how these guys play and what they're good at using numbers from MySynergySports.com.

Dragic:

Play Type %Time PPP Rank FG% 3FG% Foul% TO% Score%
P&R Ball Handler 37.1 0.78 80 0.406 32.0 6.2 19.6 38.3
Transition 21.1 1.11 175 60.1 10.5 6.8 15.2 55.3
Isolation 7.9 0.97 20 43.5 35.3 11.1 14.1 46.5
Spot-up 10.8 1.04 111 37.5 39.6 5.2 5.2 38.5
Off Screen 7.6 0.87 81 41.0 33.3 5.3 6.3 42.1

The Suns ran the pick-and-roll more than any other play, with the P&R making up more than 37 percent of Dragic's offensive possessions. Unfortunately, the Suns' pick-and-roll kind of sucked this year. Spacing and great chemistry between ball-handler and roll man are the keys to the pick-and-roll, and the Suns had neither. Dragic and Marcin Gortat never really connected, and Jared Dudley was the only good 3-point shooter on the entire team. The result was teams packing the paint, and in turn a low field goal percentage and high turnover percentage for Dragic. Even so, he ended up scoring 0.78 points per possession which Synergy has ranked 80th among qualifiers. My guess is he'd be more effective under better circumstances.

Dragic is good in transition with solid numbers across the board, but he's not anything special as indicated by his PPP rank of 175. If Jeff Hornacek is able to get this team running as much as he wants to, I'd expect a bump in that 21.1 percent in terms of how many of Dragic's shots come in transition.

Where Dragic really looks good is in isolation. Iso is one of the lowest percentage types of offense, yet Dragic scores almost one point per possession in isolation and is ranked 20th overall. Dragic's athleticism and craftiness really help him here. Another thing I like here is that Dragic only isolates on 7.9 percent of his possessions. He usually moves the ball or looks to make a play rather than holding it and forcing something himself.

Dragic is decent off the ball as a spot-up shooter and running off screens. He shot almost 40 percent from deep as a spot-up shooter, although he struggled with his jumper in every other facet of the game.

Eric Bledsoe:

Play Type %Time PPP Rank FG% 3FG% Foul% TO% Score%
P&R Ball Handler 30.8 0.75 101 41.0 44.4 4.0 17.8 37.2
Transition 20.9 0.93 280 53.6 0.0 8.9 22.0 47.0
Isolation 11.0 0.77 114 37.7 33.3 8.0 12.5 38.6
Spot-up 12.6 0.93 195 36.0 44.0 4.0 7.9 37.6
Cut 7.0 1.29 50 65.2 -- 8.9 7.1 64.3

Bledsoe didn't run the pick-and-roll quite as much as Dragic did, but he was almost as effective. The biggest difference between the two is Dragic's ability to draw more fouls than Bledsoe. Bledsoe shot much better from three, but only took nine attempts.

Despite his athleticism, Bledsoe really isn't very good on the break. His wild style of play and lack of control at times leads to a high turnover rate and tougher shots than you'd like to see.

Bledsoe isolates more than Dragic, although he's not nearly as good at just 0.77 points per possession.

Bledsoe isn't very good as a spot-up shooter either. It appears as if he has some redeeming value with his 3-point stroke, but again, those attempts are limited and selective.

Bledsoe is really effective as a cutter off the ball, however. He shoots over 65 percent and scores 1.29 points per possession. He's a real weapon off the ball.

Marshall:

Play Type %Time PPP Rank FG% 3FG% Foul% TO% Score%
P&R Ball Handler 27.8 0.41 197 26.2 18.2 0.0 28.8 18.6
Transition 18.4 0.74 311 50.0 44.4 2.6 38.5 33.3
Isolation 10.8 0.57 -- 40.0 0.0 4.3 26.1 30.4
Spot-up 26.4 1.00 144 39.2 34.9 0.0 8.9 35.7
Off Screen 3.8 1.63 -- 62.5 50.0 0.0 0.0 62.5

Marshall was surprisingly effective off the ball as a spot-up shooter and running off screens. His on the ball numbers are horrific however. He really is awful at scoring the ball right now.

Goodwin:

I unfortunately don't have access to college Synergy numbers. However, the guys over at Draft Express do. Here's the relevant numbers that I was able to find in DX's write-up on Goodwin.

Transition made up 27 percent of Goodwin's offense, which means he should fit right in to what Jeff Hornacek wants his team to do. His athleticism and ability to get to the rim make him dangerous in the open court.

He only ran the pick-and-roll on 14.7 percent of his possessions, much lower than the other guys. However, he was the most effective of the group scoring 0.84 points per possession on 51.2 percent shooting.

In isolation, Goodwin ranks between Dragic and Bledsoe with 0.83 PPP. His ability to get to the rim at will is his greatest strength in this area, although he also settles for bad jump shots at times and forces penetration when there's no room. He has potential here but still has a lot of room to grow.

Conclusions

Dragic is the best of the group at creating offense with the ball in his hands, and is also decent playing off the ball. Bledsoe is best off the ball. Kendall Marshall is terrible on the ball and hasn't done much off of it. Archie Goodwin is good in attack mode with the ball in his hands.

Wrapping it up

Do the Suns really have four point guards? The numbers say the answer is "not really."

Goran Dragic is the best overall player of the bunch. He's the most versatile in terms of being able to create offense with the ball and play off of it. He's definitely a point guard.

Eric Bledsoe is a bit different. He's more of an athlete than a true point guard. He does all kinds of crazy stuff for someone his size and his game is unique. He can run the point, but he appears to be even more effective off the ball.

Kendall Marshall technically is a point guard, but he still needs to learn how to score before the rest of his game can be effective.

Archie Goodwin may be a point guard some day, but he certainly doesn't look like one now.

Judging by the numbers, Dragic and Bledsoe should be able to play together just fine and could potentially be a lot of fun to watch. That pairing allows each player to play to his strengths.

It sounded like the plan after the draft was to have Marshall and Goodwin compete for the back-up point guard job. However, neither player is ready for the job based on what they did last year. Dragic and Bledsoe's playing time could be staggered with each of them getting a chance to run the point while the other rests, and if that is the case than either Marshall or Goodwin could earn minutes at the two.

This Suns backcourt is versatile and gives Hornacek plenty of options to try out. There may be four point guards on the roster, but that position label really doesn't mean much with this group.

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