PHOENIX — Lon Babby wants the Phoenix Suns to be an elite team. To him, that defines a squad “that’s going to legitimately compete for championships every year.” “That’s what we aspire to,...

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Did Frye add some muscle to his game during the 2011-12 season?

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.
Today's review will be Channing Frye.

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Update: Frye has shoulder surgery

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Channing Frye has long had the reputation of being a stretch power forward/center who relies mostly on efficient three point shooting to be an effective part of the offense. Although Frye is 6'11" tall, he is not usually known for providing size or strength to his team down low, but rather is used mostly as a weapon beyond the arc who is best at catching and shooting when open.

Or at least that's how he was perceived in the past.

Read on after the jump for an in-depth look at Frye's statistics and an analysis of his overall play during the past season.

First, let's take a look at Channing Frye's basic stats over the last three seasons since he's been in Phoenix:

Here are his Per 36 Stats:

His advanced stats:

And Finally, here is how he compared to the rest of the Suns team:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Marcin Gortat 66 32.0 6.5 11.7 55.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.5 3.8 64.9 2.8 7.2 10.0 0.9 1.4 0.7 1.5 2.2 15.4
Jared Dudley 65 31.1 4.8 9.9 48.5 1.2 3.2 38.3 1.8 2.5 72.6 1.5 3.2 4.6 1.7 1.1 0.8 0.3 1.6 12.7
Steve Nash 62 31.6 4.8 9.0 53.2 0.9 2.3 39.0 2.0 2.3 89.4 0.4 2.6 3.0 10.7 3.7 0.6 0.1 0.9 12.5
Shannon Brown 59 23.7 4.3 10.1 42.0 1.2 3.2 36.2 1.4 1.7 80.8 0.6 2.0 2.7 1.2 1.1 0.7 0.3 1.1 11.0
Channing Frye 64 26.1 4.0 9.6 41.6 1.4 4.1 34.6 1.1 1.3 89.0 1.1 4.8 5.9 1.4 1.0 0.7 1.1 2.8 10.5
Grant Hill 49 28.1 4.1 9.2 44.6 0.3 1.1 26.4 1.7 2.2 76.1 0.6 2.9 3.5 2.2 1.3 0.8 0.6 1.8 10.2
Michael Redd 51 15.1 2.8 7.1 40.0 0.8 2.6 31.8 1.7 2.2 79.3 0.3 1.2 1.5 0.6 0.7 0.3 0.0 0.6 8.2
Markieff Morris 63 19.5 2.8 6.9 39.9 0.7 2.0 34.7 1.2 1.7 71.7 1.1 3.3 4.4 1.0 1.1 0.7 0.7 2.8 7.4
Hakim Warrick 35 14.4 2.1 5.1 41.1 0.0 0.3 10.0 2.2 2.8 76.8 0.9 1.7 2.6 0.9 1.0 0.2 0.1 1.0 6.4
Sebastian Telfair 60 14.9 2.4 5.7 41.2 0.6 1.8 31.4 0.9 1.1 79.1 0.3 1.2 1.5 2.3 1.1 0.7 0.2 2.0 6.1
Robin Lopez 64 14.0 1.9 4.2 46.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.2 71.4 1.4 1.9 3.3 0.3 0.7 0.3 0.9 2.0 5.4
Ronnie Price 36 14.4 1.4 3.6 37.7 0.4 1.2 29.5 0.6 0.7 80.0 0.5 1.1 1.6 1.9 1.3 0.9 0.1 2.0 3.6
Josh Childress 34 14.4 1.4 2.9 48.5 0.1 0.7 16.7 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.9 1.9 2.8 1.0 0.3 0.4 0.2 1.1 2.9


Looking at all of the above stats, there are a couple of things that jump out. Although Frye's basic stats appear to show a slight decline in his offensive production, his 'Per 36' stats show that he actually had a slightly better performance than last season, but not quite as good as the year prior. This means that he played less minutes overall than in the previous seasons, but still managed to score more points during his time on the floor.

This season, Frye was the Suns 2nd best rebounder, 2nd best shot blocker (overall), 2nd best free throw shooter, 5th highest scorer.

Furthermore, these stats also show that Frye made improvements in his rebounding, his defense rating (the lower the number the better), his free throw percentage, and his blocked shots. However, these stats do show a decline in his three-point attempts, three-point makes, three-point percentage, and his overall field goal percentage as well. Frye shot an uncharacteristically low .346 from beyond the arc this season which explains the drop off in these categories, but as it shows above, he still managed to score at a higher rate when he was on the floor this season...and for most of those who watched the Suns this year, it's probably fairly apparent as to why...He was much improved this year in his scoring inside the three point line.

So why don't these stats show that big of a difference, and still show an overall decline in his field goal percentage? Well, like the Suns, Frye's year was a tale of two seasons....His pre All-Star break stats, and his post All-Star break stats.

Split Value G GS MP FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS FG% 3P% FT% MP PTS TRB AST
All-Star Pre 34 29 827 125 309 48 142 31 35 36 197 35 25 34 28 93 329 .405 .338 .886 24.3 9.7 5.8 1.0
Post 30 30 843 130 304 43 121 42 47 35 182 53 17 36 35 83 345 .428 .355 .894 28.1 11.5 6.1 1.8

As you can see, Frye was a much different player in the second half of the season, just like the Suns were a completely different team. He was much more aggressive in getting to the basket and much less likely to settle for the three point shot. He shot 19 fewer three-point attempts but made them at a higher percentage. This shows he was much more selective in his three-point shooting during the second half of the season and it made a difference. He also attempted a dozen more free throws after the all-star break, which also shows a more aggressive style of play in the second half of the season. Looking at this split, you can see that he improved across the board in every single category after the all-star break, and when Frye is playing well, the Suns usually follow suit.

I don't mean to make it sound as though Frye is the end all and be all to this team, but it should be obvious to everyone who watched the suns last season just how big a part of the Suns' offense, and even their success at defense and rebounding that Frye is. When Frye was injured late in the season during their playoff push, the Suns struggled to move the ball effectively and the two-man game between Nash and Gortat also suffered because of it.

Frye had a very slow start to the season that even prompted Gentry to replace him in the starting line-up for a couple of games. However, he bounced back after the all-star break in a big way and was one of the biggest reasons for the Suns turnaround in my opinion. And once he injured his right shoulder, I believe his absence was the biggest reason the Suns didn't make the playoffs as well.



My overall grade for Frye this season: B


Frye's unique skill set gives the Suns the ability to spread the floor to let Nash operate and either find Gortat in the paint, or kick it out to an open shooter (like Frye). What these stats show, and what we should all hope that Frye is learning, is that he is able to contribute much more to this team than just being a spot up shooter. Although the Suns want to use Frye's three-point shooting ability to spread the offense, they don't want him to just settle for that shot when he can also give the Suns an inside scoring and rebounding presence.

These stats give me hope that Frye is still developing into a better overall player for the Suns, and if he can learn what aspects of his game gave both he and the Suns greater success this season, he could become a much more efficient player for the Suns for years to come.

In other news, it was reported that Channing Frye also underwent a successful surgery on his right shoulder yesterday that should hopefully remedy the problems he's been having with it over the last couple of seasons. Get well soon Channing...The Suns need you!

*All stats used in this article were provided by basketball-reference.com

Poll
What overall grade would you give Channing Frye for this season?

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This guy should be high on any list of Suns potential offseason targets.

The 2012 NBA Playoffs brought us another blow out. This first round is not shaping up all that well, but then again we are talking about the top seeded San Antonio Spurs easily dealing with a Utah Jazz team that was 11-22 on the road. We're also not surprised to see a good Indiana Pacers team take care of business on the road against the Orlando Magic who are simply not that good without Dwight Howard.

In a more competitive game and series, the Memphis Grizzlies held on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers and tie their series 1-1. The Clippers suffered another blow with an injury to Mo Williams after losing Caron Butler to a broken hand in Game 1 although Williams is expected back.

The real question in this series is Zach Randolph. We saw him dominate in the playoffs last year, but so far he's just 9-24 in two games. He did have 15 points in Game 2, but while that's an improvement, it's nothing close to the performance we saw last year. If he gets it back, the Grizzlies will roll the Clips. If not, this series will continue to be a grind.

Here's what's on the NBA playoff schedule for Thursday night:

Miami Heat at New York Knicks at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT on TNT. The Knicks will be without power forward Amare Stoudemire (lacerated hand) and the Heat will match by playing without Chris Bosh who flew back home to be with his wife for the birth of a child. Neither team has much front court depth so expect to see the LeBron James vs. Carmelo Anthony match up move from the three to the four position. Whatever, the Heat will roll.

Update: Bosh is now expected back in New York in time for the game. Whatever, the Heat will roll.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks at 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT on TNT. The Thunder are extremely lucky to be up 2-0 in this surprisingly fun series. Now they go on the road and we'll find out what they are really made of. They were expected by many to come out of the West but so far look far from being a championship-ready team. Don't miss this game even if Community is on at the same time.

For more coverage of the NBA Playoffs, visit SB Nation's NBA hub.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube


PHOENIX — For an hour on Wednesday afternoon, Phoenix Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby talked with the local media about everything from this past season to the future ahead....

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This man holds the keys to the Suns' future. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

(SB Nation Arizona, Seth Pollack) The Phoenix Suns face (another) very important offseason. The last time they were in this position was the summer of 2010 when Amare Stoudemire and Steve Kerr left and owner Robert Sarver made a series of personnel moves as the acting GM that didn't turn out so well.

This time, it's President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby who will be in the driver's seat when it comes time to make the big decisions that will determine how fast (or if) this franchise returns to prior glory.

Babby invited the local media to the Suns' offices for a "Lunch with Lon" session that included, yes, a free lunch and then an hour-long session with the man who will determine the direction of the Phoenix basketball team over the next few months.

The meeting began (after the free lunch) with opening prepared remarks from the former trial attorney who defended the crazy man who shot President Reagan and then went into a period of direct examination of the witness.

Mostly it was a reiteration of philosophies and positions we've heard before but there was some definite news made:

UPDATE: Here's the full transcript of Babby's talk. Thanks to Mr. Haremoor for all 9,200 words!

1) Alvin Gentry has one year left on his contract but don't expect an extension any time soon. Babby extended Gentry in 2010 so his final year wouldn't fall in a lockout season and also so the two men would share the same term on their deals.

"My view is if a person has a three-year contract you assess it at the end of three years. That's how I'm going to be judged. I've talked to Alvin about it, he's perfectly fine with that, and you know, there are a lot of very successful coaches in the league right now coaching in the final year of their contract. This notion that somehow you have to always be one year ahead, I don't think it's in his best interest, I don't think it's in our best interest but it has absolutely nothing to do with an assessment of his coaching ability or his performance. He understands that. He's our coach."

2) Aaron Brooks will be a restricted free agent this summer. Because he wasn't with this team this year they can't package him in a sign-and-trade but they will extend him the qualifying offer (~$3m) to retain the right to match any offer he receives on the market.

Babby said they were unlucky that Brooks went to China when he did and that the door is still open on judging the trade that brought him to Phoenix and sent Goran Dragic and a first round pick to Houston. However, he said, if the trade turns out to be bad, the team will not make progress by looking back.

3) Robin Lopez will also be an restricted free agent this summer and Babby said, "the message I would send out is that it's quite likely, if not certain that we're going to match."

Babby said that the team was committed to helping Robin this season as he continued to recover from his back injury in March 2010 and that he was "excellent" after the All-Star break. They would like to see Lopez be more consistent but they value him as a rim protector.

Beyond those news items, Babby reiterated the team's goal is to be an elite team that competes for a championship every year. Right now, they are in a transition process to get there and determined the best way to do that was to maintain their salary cap flexibility going into this offseason.

The team could either make trades using the cap space to take on salaries or use the room to sign free agents.

Babby also said it is possible the team would end up signing one-year deals as they did last offseason which would be better than giving long-term deals to the wrong players. They are committed to remaining disciplined in that process despite heavy pressure to make moves to immediately improve the team.

"We're not going to sell false hope," Babby said.

Steve Nash back?

One big topic, as always, was free agent Steve Nash. Babby commended Nash for how he handled this season's round of trade rumors and would like him to return to the Suns to finish his career.

"We've got to go down a road with him and see if we can find a common path, a path that makes sense for him and then makes sense for us. Everyone here wants Steve Nash to retire as a Phoenix Sun, and we're going to work very hard to work with him to see if that can happen, but it's got to be not only good for him but it's got to be good for us and he understands that.

"What I would say about it at this very early stage is that every indication we've gotten from Steve is that not only is our spirit willing to make this happen, but his spirit is willing as well. That doesn't mean it's going to happen, we respect his right to look around, but we will work hard with him to find common ground and we'll see where it ends up."

Grant Hill done?

Babby gave a strong indication that Grant Hill will be back with the Suns if he decides he's healthy enough to continue playing. "I don't want to speak for him, but I can't imagine he'd want to play anywhere else...I would be extremely disappointed if he played somewhere else."

As with most anything in sports, the proof is on the scoreboard. The Suns have been a mediocre team for the past two seasons and missed the playoffs three out of their last four seasons. Babby and his staff stepped into a difficult situation but they understand they will be judged based on the results.

If the Suns want to win back their spot as the top sports team Phoenix, they will need to do it on the court. Whether they can pull that off as soon as next season remains to be seen. It won't be easy.

For more discuss of the Phoenix Suns, visit Bright Side of the Sun.


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