Report Cards for each player on the surprising 48-34 team, plus the coach and front office

So how awesome was it that Goodwin sacked Sactown in the team's final game this season? As far as grading goes, it's akin to killing his final exam. Although he definitely put an exclamation point on his rookie year with that 29 point career high performance, most of his season was much more sedate. Depending on how you want to look at it, Archie was a casualty of the Suns success.

In the end, there just wasn't a lot of spare playing time left over for a 19 year old rookie on a playoff contending team. That played into Goodwin having two quick stints in the D-League this season, one at the end of January and one in early February.

In five games (two starts) for the Bakersfield Jam Goodwin averaged 26.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He shot a very respectable .494 from the field and .385 from three point range. He even shot .810 from the line on an impressive 8.4 attempts per game. The only real blemish on his record there was his 4.2 turnovers per game.

In a way, though, that's more cause for relief than a harbinger of future NBA success. I mean, really, what NBA player doesn't excel in that type of environment? See Marshall, Kendall.

But let's get back to the association. Here's a fun stat (now that we can make light of the hellish season just two years back).

In 2012-13 the Suns had seven players who finished with a WS/48 of 0.00 or lower (negative). Wesley Johnson, Hamed Haddadi, Kendall Marshall, Marcus Morris, Michael Beasley, Luke Zeller and Diante Garrett.

Yes, those guys were all on the Suns. What a cringeworthy collection of talent.

The magnificent seven combined to play 4,021 minutes for a net of -2.2 wins (2.2 losses).

Are you wondering where I'm going with this?

For the 2013-14 season Archie Goodwin had the lowest WS/48 of any player on the Suns... it was .018. Better than nearly half of the 2012-13 roster.

That he finished lowest on the team in this category isn't really a knock on Archie, either, it is just a testament to how every single player had a positive impact on the team.

Goodwin made 52 appearances during the season and averaged 10.3 minutes per game. The spot duty makes his 3.7 points per game look pretty anemic, so I'm going to focus on per36 numbers. His averages of 13.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals were pretty middle of the pack in terms of the team.

What stood out to me was where Archie was getting his shots and his success rate. Goodwin was second on the team in percentage of field goal attempts at the rim (.545) behind Viacheslav Kravtsov. He was getting more looks at the rim than Miles Plumlee and Alex Len. Then, by getting himself good looks Goodwin managed to tie Goran Dragic for best 2P% at .542.

Goodwin's biggest deficiencies were 3P% (.139), FT% (.673) and turnovers (3.0 - third worst on team). Not a surprise.

Basically Archie's stats are indicative of exactly what we expected from him this season.

Goodwin has flashed brilliance since I saw him in his Las Vegas Summer League debut in which he scored 13 points against the Portland Trail Blazers summer squad. What Ryan McDonough told me that day after the game still resonates with me as to what embodies Archie as a young player.

"Archie didn't shoot the ball very well (in college), that's an area he absolutely has to improve on, but he really knows how to get in the paint," commented McDonough. "He knows how to break down defenses and get to the basket."

What I saw in him that game translated to the NBA court as well...

Goodwin attempted a game high six free throws, making four, while displaying a mesmerizing combination of quickness and fluidity. Maybe graceful would be a fitting adjective?

That was the first time I saw him play in person, and I still think it embodies what he does fairly succinctly.

But in addition to the fluidity, I also saw some ferocity this season.

The best thing about these report cards is that all the writers here have total creative license to use any qualitative or quantitative methods they choose. Even the format is completely flexible. Maybe some will just be reviews and eschew my grading criteria completely. (Jim shakes fist)

In limited exposure Archie showed enough to give hope that he has the potential to grow into an effective player at this level. By all accounts he is a great teammate with an exemplary work ethic. He was even the consummate performer by leaving us wanting more after the season finale, but in the end he didn't do that much more than I expected. I think next year he'll have a better chance to crack the rotation, though, especially if he's in the gym shooting free throws and three pointers all summer. Maybe he can hit the weight bench, too. After all, he's only 19 and hasn't even grown into his NBA body.


Grade: B

Mike D’Antoni has left two blazed trails during his time in the NBA. The former Phoenix Suns coach first changed the way the pro game was played. Then he left messes in the two biggest media...

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Jeff Hornacek’s first season on the job as Phoenix Suns coach went pretty well. The Coach of the Year runner up helped his team to 48 wins, pushed the right buttons with nearly every player on...

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When Hornacek took over as coach of the Phoenix Suns it was assumed he would take his lumps. Instead he was the one serving them out as he gained a lot of credibility and job security in his first season.

Let me start with a very transparent example that is a microcosm of Hornacek's performance as a tyronic head coach.

In the 2012-13 season Markieff Morris took 45.3% of his shots from 16' or further away from the basket.  Under Hornacek's tutelage that shrunk to 31.9%. As a result of this his eFG% went up from .442 to .507. This tangible improvement isn't anomalous, either, as the team as a whole took better shots and made a higher percentage as a result.

Hornacek coached the players to capitalize on the strengths in their skillsets and eschew their weaknesses... and the players embraced his message. They bought in. That's a very important part of effective coaching. Basketball knowledge can be futile when it isn't complemented with the ability to instill that knowledge in the players. Many good coaches have been tuned out before and lost their teams.

Hornacek seemed to make the Suns self aware... and that may have saved and/or revitalized the careers of many players on the roster.

The inimitable, and our very own, East Bay Ray already did a lot of the heavy lifting for me with his story that detailed how the Phoenix Suns delivered on Coach Jeff Hornacek's August forecasts. It is a testament to a coach's ability when he can get that kind of across the board improvement out of his players.

Here's how stupid the improvement on the team was last season. Eric Bledsoe went from a bench player averaging 8.5 points and 3.1 assists per game to a starter averaging 17.7 and 5.5 while increasing his eFG% from .473 to .522 in the process. That's a bigger jump than most other players will ever experience, but it was basically an afterthought in the wake of what his teammates achieved.

Part of what made Jeff's effort so spectacular was the depth expectations had sunk to after the calamitous state of affairs last season had spiraled into. It wasn't just that the team was abysmal, the organization appeared completely rudderless.

The palingenesis of the team gained notoriety throughout the league as the season progressed, but I think in many ways the people that were most surprised were the ones closer to the team (Jim raises hand).

But maybe not those closest. From the outset those directly within the organization had confidence the team would be much better than the prognostications of peril. Still, I don't even think any of them expected 48 wins.

Instead the team took the stance of letting their play on the court do the talking. There was no bluster or bravado over how much better the team would be than the consensus predictions. There was no indignance over a perceived slight from those predictions. The team even hedged itts bets by alluding to the season as one that shouldn't necessarily be judged by wins and losses. There was no discussion of the team contending for the playoffs after the team had been burned by such statements the previous preseason.

Under Hornacek the Suns (48-34) won 23 games more than they did the previous season (25-57). That is tied for the third biggest turnaround in franchise history behind the 2004-05 SSOL team (+33) and the 1988-89 team (+27) which Hornacek was a member of.

Of course, this doesn't include the 1999-00 Backcourt 2000 squad that went from 27-23 to 53-29 (+26, right?).

When Jeff took the job he said he'd always thought of coaching, like his father, he just didn't think it would be at this level. In a season with a leitmotif of exceeding underwhelming expectations it seems like Hornacek surprised himself again. Not only is he coaching at the highest level, but it appears he is a prodigy.

He's even a really likable guy, even if he's not necessarily dripping with charisma. The abrasive, unpoised nature of Lindsey Hunter feels like a lifetime away.

The players like to play for him. There is a cohesiveness in the locker room and on the court. The Suns never gave up on their coach this season. What evidences this more clearly than the fact that the team was basically never out of a game? When some teams would pack it in and play for the next game the Suns would scrape and claw with palpable desperation. Hornacek rarely ever criticized the effort of his team this season and that's because the team rarely ever gave less than maximum.

When asked about the one positive that stood out in his mind the most this season Hornacek responded, "I think overall, for the team and the organization, it's that we got it back to Phoenix Suns basketball and what that's really like."

Pretty much sums it up for me.

The biggest blemish on Hornacek's inaugural season was that the Suns fell painfully short of a postseason appearance. He facetiously took the blame.

"I screwed up at the beginning of the year. We had this little three game set that we kept track of. I told the guys that if we end up with a plus seven we're going to be in the playoffs, but plus seven over .500 put us right at 48 and we didn't get in. So I guess I screwed that up. It should have had plus eight."

That was just about the only thing Hornacek didn't get right.

Since Hornacek finished second to Greg Popovich in the Coach of the Year voting I guess that makes him Rookie Coach of the Year instead.

Jeff almost got an A+, but in the end the playoffs was the cherry on top. In a way it's like he killed it all semester long, but didn't quite ace the final.

For that reason Hornacek will have to settle for an A.

The Suns were done in by injury this season, losing Eric Bledsoe for 39 games and Goran Dragic at the end for a small handful of season-deciding games. What damage could the Suns have done in the playoffs? A lot.

The Phoenix Suns missed the playoffs. For the fourth consecutive season, they are counting ping pong balls instead of brass balls.

As we enter week three since the Suns last played a game, and approach week four since they last beat a playoff team, it's easy to tuck the Suns season into a corner and forget just how playoff-worthy they were.

As I watch these playoffs, he parity in the Western Conference is quite obvious. The last four seeds in the West - Memphis, Dallas, Golden State and Portland - have all either split the first four games of their playoff tilts against higher seeds or taken the series lead. All four of those teams were within a game or two of the Suns in the last two weeks of the season.

In all four series, the higher seed will need at least 6 games, if not 7, to vanquish their lower-seeded opponent or they will go home early. One series - #7 Memphis vs. #2 Oklahoma City - has set a playoff record at 4 consecutive overtime games!

Why would a Phoenix Suns fan care about this, instead of focusing entirely on the upcoming draft lottery?

Because a healthy Phoenix Suns squad was as good as, or better than, any Western Conference opponent this season. The Suns were 23-11 with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in the starting lineup. Even better, they were 22-9 before losing three consecutive games to these teams when Dragic severely turned his ankle and missed one game while playing hobbled in the other two.

Injuries are no excuse. I get that. Memphis lost Marc Gasol for a third of the season. Golden State lost Andrew Bogut right at the end. Nearly every NBA teams faced injury issues to star players.

I get that. But still, there's a bitter taste in my mouth.

The Suns won 48 games this season to tie the 2008 Golden State Warriors for most wins by a lottery team since going to a 16-team bracket, missing the playoffs by just one win. A good final weekend would have vaulted the Suns into the playoff picture, but Dragic's ankle squelched those hopes.

Hard to believe just a year ago the decidedly-average Los Angeles Lakers squeaked into the playoffs with a 45-37 record. The Suns, in fact, would have been the 6th seed a year ago with their 48 wins, topping the Lakers, Rockets and Warriors.

But we can't bemoan undeserving teams in the West playoffs. Everyone belongs.

These first round matchups, especially the Dallas/San Antonio and Memphis/OKC, have been marvelous and a load of fun to watch. Every game going down the wire. Every game being won by big shots, big stops, big plays.

But I have to wonder what the Suns could have done, had they been able to crash the party. OKC and San Antonio looks very beatable. The Suns could be staring down a chance to pull into the second round right now, waiting for another beatable opponent who survived a bloody first round.

No one in the West is far and away the best team.

I can totally see Memphis and Dallas squaring off in the Western Conference Finals.

Which means I can totally see the Suns going just as far, if not farther.

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