Channing Frye's return to the starting line-up was almost as surprising as the Phoenix Suns' return to NBA relevancy. What grade did the Comeback Kid earn for the comeback Suns?

One has to wonder what the future holds for Channing Frye.  According to The Arizona Republic, the 30-year-old power forward reportedly would like to work out a contract extension that would likely end his career in Phoenix.  This is more amazing news than your average contract extension story considering his career nearly ended in Phoenix at the end of the 2011-12 NBA season.

Frye's recovery from his heart disease is practically a metaphor for the Phoenix Suns organization this season.  After a disheartening 2012-13 campaign that saw the second worst results in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns were left for dead going into 2013-14.  And like Frye's sudden and unexpected announcement that he would be at training camp, Phoenix suddenly and unexpectedly announced that they would be competing in every game until the end of the season.  Coincidentally (or not), Channing became the first player since 2009-2010 to start all 82 games for the Phoenix Suns.

But does the comparison end there?  Ultimately this incarnation of the Phoenix Suns wasn't good enough to make the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference.  Is Frye good enough to make it as a starter for the next incarnation of the surprising Suns?

For the first half of the season, the answer was a resounding yes!  Until the All-Star break, Channing Frye was averaging near career highs across the board and having his best season since 2010-11.  In addition to those numbers, his presence outside the arc usually forced other teams to send one of their big men outside as well, clearing the lane for Goran Dragi? and Eric Bledsoe to get to the rim.  He was the perfect compliment to a line-up featuring two slashing All-Star quality guards.

But in the second half of the season, Frye's offensive production dropped significantly.  His FG% fell from 44.9 to 39.8 and his 3PT% collapsed to 31.5 from 39.9.  His "hot" games were becoming fewer and farther between.  And it's probably no accident that he saw his minutes per game go down from 28.7 to 27.4, while Markieff Morris saw his go up from 25.0 to 29.1.  It became clear which player Jeff Hornacek saw as his finisher at the power forward spot.

To be fair to Frye, he had spent the 12 months prior to the season doing no physical activity other than yoga, walking and golf.  He took his body from zero to NBA season in a month.  The likelihood of maintaining that early season production was always in doubt.  But as a player, you're only as good as what you produce on the court and that production suffered in the second half of the season.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't mind seeing Channing Frye retire as a Phoenix Sun.  He's got an almost unparalleled Phoenix/Arizona pedigree and I think he embodies the spirit of the Suns' organization.  Being on the other side of 30, he'll have to accept a smaller contract to make it happen and I think it's doable.  Or maybe I'm just soft for a Phoenix guy and the inevitably cold business of the NBA will send him off to Milwaukee or Charlotte or some other NBA purgatory.  Regardless of his next contract, Channing still has a player option for one more year left on his current one.  The choice to remain a Phoenix Sun is his for the moment.

Channing Frye had a surprisingly solid if inconsistent return to the Phoenix Suns this year.  He provided stability in a line-up that saw its two best players come and go over the course of the last 82 games.  He was a veteran leader on a young team that went from playing over its head to playing under the weight of growing expectations.  It was a good year for the Phoenix Suns and their walking metaphor.  Here's hoping they can continue to flourish together.

Grade: B

Welcome to the Madhouse! Bright Side of the Sun is an amazing and diverse community and it deserves a place where the tyranny of topicality does not rule. And that's what The Madhouse is. It's Bright Side of the Sun's place to talk about whatever you want, whenever you want: favorite TV shows, news from around the league or what a relief it is to be off the Suns' roller coaster for a few months. It's all fair game here.

Despite limited playing time, Archie Goodwin flashed plenty of potential for a 19 year old rookie with an impressive Summer League debut, dominating performances in the D-League, and by finishing the season with the best outing of his young career.

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

PHOENIX — Even heading into the summer of 2012, Suns president of basketball ops Lon Babby thought Phoenix was a prime free agent landing spot. Then, there was little to sell. Now, the Suns can...

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"Hey, that guy in the uniform that is not purple and orange looks familiar. Didn't he play here? Great, now what am I supposed to do?"

By now the point has been hammered home hard enough by local and national media alike -- The Phoenix Suns didn't make the playoffs. Time to put that tool down before you knock down the structural integrity of your basketball knowledge. Good?

Now the NBA Playoffs still roll on and a unique thing about the Suns, and by my own admission I have no clue if other teams experience this because I do not track their rosters as closely, but the concept of Former Suns In New Places creates a unique basketball viewing experience right now. There are a lot of them. especially in the past 3-4 years when the team was overturned, rebuilt, and redone more times than Romeo & Juliet or King Kong Movies... They happen a lot.

So when those players go elsewhere do you have a natural urge to root for them to succeed?

When they were a part of "your" team obviously the thought would unanimously be for that player to be the best they could possibly be. Naturally, there is a bitterness towards success when you fell just shy of that same goal so a rooting interest in a former player might be tougher in this circumstance. For the most part ex-players become that way under amicable circumstances with outliers existing, but generally an ex-player is the same as a friend moving to a new city or a breaking things off with a significant other where you both knew this was fun, but not that serious.

Now if that girl started dating a good friend right away or your friend that moved starting working for a rival company, then it is natural to root against the overall success of their surroundings, but do you have to root against them personally?

We live in a very negative and bleak world where if something good is not happening for us as an individual we do not know how to sit back and appreciate success for another.

This roster was turned over seeing 37 different players in four years wear a Suns uniform for at least 20 or more games. That formally excludes Caron Butler, despite his efforts as a fashion model for the new uniforms before the season. With eight new players this year, four players that have been here 2+ years, one old face returning (Leandro Barbosa), and long standing holdover (Channing Frye) this is a team that has a lot of players in other uniforms this time of year.

What is the Standard Operating Procedure for rooting for them then?

Jared Dudley is a major fan favorite, but now resides on the Los Angeles Clippers bench with former head coach Alvin Gentry. He is a division rival much like Jermaine O'Neal on the Golden State Warriors.

Shawn Marion and Vince Carter are on the Dallas Mavericks, a heated Suns playoff rival when considering Steve Nash (not in the playoffs this year) and the two dynamic offenses.

Right now former big men Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards), Michael Beasley (Miami Heat), and Luis Scola (Indiana Pacers) are jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference while Robin Lopez (Portland Trail Blazers) is doing the same out West. Gortat and Lopez were not necessarily appreciated here in the Valley for their own unique reasons, so it is tougher for most fans to appreciate their success.

Most of the former Suns players were here for a cup of coffee and then were out. It just happened that way as the different regimes were trying to figure out what this team was going to look like long-term.

Every year there is turnover, some years more than others, so why not root for, or at the very least appreciate, the success of these players in their future endeavors? The concept is tougher for the Nash's of the world who angle their way out to a division rival, but he also won a few MVPs out here and did some tremendous things. Same for the Marion's, the Dudley's, the Gortat's, and maybe not so much for the Beasley's or the Turkoglu's.

On the whole, as sports fans -- Can we root for former players in the playoffs?

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