PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 09:  Luis Scola #4 of the Houston Rockets puts up a shot over Marcin Gortat #4 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on February 9, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Just because the NBA is on hiatus doesn't mean all NBA players are lounging on a beach somewhere. A few dozen (39) NBA players are currently competing in the Olympics while a bunch more whose countries did not make the Games in London are trying to qualify for next year's championships (Eurobasket 2013 among them).

From the Suns point of view, three international players have interesting stories unfolding this summer.

New power forward Luis Scola, a product of the Suns' youth movement (being 8 years younger than Grant Hill, of course), is playing for Argentina in London. He leads the Olympics in scoring (22.5 ppg) to go along with 5.8 rebounds as he plays a lot of Center for the veteran team known as the Band of Brothers.

Poland (Marcin Gortat) and Slovenia (Goran Dragic) did not qualify for the Olympics. Gortat's team is playing this month to qualify for Eurbasket 2013 - the European Championships. In a warmup tournament this weekend, Gortat has put up 27/10 and 24/15 against Montenegro and Latvia, respectively.

The Suns' own Goran Dragic actually IS taking the summer off though. Since Slovenia is hosting Eurobasket 2013, a major coup, they don't need to play their way into the competition. As a caution, Slovenia's best National Team players are taking this summer off while Slovenia evaluates youngsters.

Hit the jump for a whole lot more on Scola, Gortat and Dragic.

Luis Scola

Luis Scola is not the most talented player in the game, but he has always been very effective and happens to lead all Olympics players, including Team USA, in scoring at 22.5 points per game. Leading his own team in scoring is not an easy feat, considering they boast Manu Ginobili (21.5 ppg), sharp-shooting Carlos Delfino (15.8) and Andres Nocioni (9.0).

"He's a hell of a scorer," Manu Ginobili said of Scola this week to Dan Bickley of "He has so many trick shots and mid-range shots. He became just lethal from the free-throw-line area. He can give you a lot."

But Scola is not just about scoring. He works hard, willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done on the court.

He does the stuff that isn't always glamorous. That's not an easy mentality to sustain.

"I think I have no choice," Scola said in the same interview with Bickley. "I don't have extraordinary ability. I'm not very athletic. I have to play that way if I want to be successful in the world of basketball. I find out early in my career, if I don't go 100 percent, it's going to be very difficult for me to compete, to be an impact player for any team. And any time I stopped playing that way, I start playing bad. So this is the only way it's going to work."

A longtime nemesis of the Suns, Ginobili is well aware of Scola's new franchise. He was asked to give a candid assessment to fans in Phoenix.

"I've been playing with him for 15 years, I know him very well," Ginobili said. "He's definitely a hard worker, a hard-nosed player. He's going to run on every single possession. Up 20, down 20 or tied, he's going to play. He's going to try to play every game possible. He's not going to rest five games because he's tired."

In addition to scoring, Scola is second on his Argentinian team in rebounding (5.8), tied for first in blocks (1.0) and third in assists. One thing Scola does not do is shoot 3-pointers. He is an inside player, earning his keep near the basket.

Marcin Gortat

Gortat's team did not qualify for the Olympics in the play-in tournament last year, so this year they are trying to play in to Eurobasket 2013 - the Euro championships. Eurobasket is bigger than the Olympics to every national team outside the USA.

Poland is playing a few games this weekend in a 3-day tournament called the Sopot Cup to get ready for the elimination tourney that starts on August 15.

Marcin Gortat in the Ergo Arena. Sopot Cup Basketball Tournament

European Championships Basketball, Teams, Scores, Stats, News, Standings - EUROBASKET

Basketball. Gortat effective, but Poland lost to Montenegro

In the opening game of the Sopot Cup, Gortat played very well (27 and 10) but no one else on his team did.

Gortat and the Latvians, the Poles quickly u?o?yli to sleep - Sport - WP.PL

In the second game, the team showed up around Marcin and the Poles won 99-74. Gortat had 18, 8 and 3 blocks by halftime.

I encourage you to follow the links in the translated Polish stories. Gortat is growing out his beard this summer (a stark contrast to his bald pate), and generally enjoying being the face of Polish basketball. Who can blame him?

Poland will very likely qualify for Eurobasket 2013 in Slovenia. They have not done quite as well as Slovenia, let alone Argentina, but they are always in the hunt.

Poland | EuroBasket 2011

Goran Dragic

Speaking of Eurobasket 2013, the little country of Slovenia won the right to host that prestigious tournament next year. Recently, Hedo Turkoglu's Turkish National team hosted the FIBA World Championships in 2010 and almost won it from out of nowhere. Hedo and his brethren's faces were all over Turkey that summer, helping the team play well all the way to the end.

Next year, it's Goran's turn to be the biggest local name in the whole tournament and for Slovenia to be buoyed by its fans to hopefully finish higher than ever (4th is their highest previous finish).

Slovenia Not Standing Still | EuroBasket 2013

Dragic's Star Rises | EuroBasket 2013

Luckily for Suns fans, Goran just gets watch his brother train this summer during some exhibition games while he and his best teammates take the summer to rest and prepare for next year's epic battle.

Slovenia has performed better in Eurobasket, which occurs every two years, since Dragic joined the team. In 2009 and 2011, little Slovenia has finished 4th and 7th, respectively.

Slovenia | EuroBasket 2013

Check out Slovenia's history in Eurobasket, including Dragic's growth into the team's best player.

Enjoy the links, folks!

And enjoy watching Luis Scola in the Olympics this year - you really will fall in love with his game.

I’m not sure if it’s possible to score 22 points quietly – especially when playing only 25 minutes. But Luis Scola certainly tried his best Saturday as Argentina beat Nigeria, 93-79, to clinch a spot...

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I’m not sure if it’s possible to score 22 points quietly — especially when playing only 25 minutes. But Luis Scola certainly tried his best Saturday as Argentina beat Nigeria, 93-79, to clinch...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
I’m not sure if it’s possible to score 22 points quietly — especially when playing only 25 minutes. But Luis Scola certainly tried his best Saturday as Argentina beat Nigeria, 93-79, to clinch...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Dudz tries hard. He really does.
Now that things have slowed down a bit on Plant Orange, I am continuing my review of the Suns' roster one position at a time, using stats courtesy of I've already taken a look at the centers, power forwards and small forwards.

Center: Offense - Defense

Power Forward: Offense - Defense

Small Forward: Offense - Defense

Now it is time for the shooting guards. I've already written about how Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown were used on offense. Dudley is a pretty efficient all-around offensive player, while Shannon Brown has his strengths but doesn't play to them nearly enough. Now it is time to see how these two fared on the other end of the court: defense. The results may surprise you.

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.

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

Jared Dudley

Jared Dudley has a pretty good defensive reputation. He works hard and understands how to play smart defense. However, in the NBA, smarts and hard work aren't enough. For those expecting Dudley to replace Grant Hill as the Suns' designated defensive stopper, don't expect much (particularly if Dudley has to defend shooting guards).

Dudley's most commonly defended play was spot-up jumpers at 37.6 percent of his plays. He was pretty good at contesting shots inside the arc as opponents only shot 38.9 percent against him overall, but he struggled defending shots beyond the arc where opponents connected on 41.1 percent of their attempts. The 3-pointers hurt his overall effectiveness, as his PPP against was 0.93 which was ranked 173rd overall.

He spent 18.1 percent of his plays defending isolations, and he did okay, but certainly didn't lock opponents down. Offensive players shot 38.1 percent against him and scored 0.83 PPP, which ranked him 183rd.

Dudley struggles a little more against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, a play he saw on 16.4 percent of his possessions. Ball-handlers shot 45.7 percent from the field and hit five of eight 3-point attempts for a PPP of 0.99 and a rank of 210.

However, he looks better in the the rest of the categories. He gave up 0.90 PPP against shooters running off screens and was ranked 91st. He gave up 0.70 PPP in post-up situations, ranked 40th overall. And he did a fine job defending hand-offs, holding opponents to 9-25 shooting and 0.77 PPP, ranked 22nd.

Dudley's overall PPP is pretty bad at 0.91, which ranks him 341 overall (that's almost Michael Redd bad). The poor numbers are a result of him struggling the most against the plays he defended most often. He did a good job of playing smart defense against hand-offs, post-ups and players running off screens, but those plays comprised only 126 of his 529 total plays defended. He struggled more in the areas where speed and athleticism really help to cover ground: isolations, spot-up shooters and pick-and-rolls.

An interesting note on Dudley: his 2010-11 numbers were very different than those from this past season. In fact, they are pretty much completely opposites. Where he struggled this past season, he did well in 2010-11, and vice versa. Perhaps the position change had something to do with this, but his 2009-10 numbers compared well to those of this past season, even though he played mostly small forward two years ago. I'm not sure how I should read into this. Do you guys have any theories?

Shannon Brown

Surprisingly enough, Shannon Brown actually graded out better overall than Dudley did.

His most commonly defended play was also spot-up shooting (28.9 percent), and he was pretty terrible at it. Like Dudley, he really struggled defending 3-point shots as opponents shot 42.7 percent against him. He didn't defend inside the arc quite as well as Dudley did, though, as opponents shot 40.2 percent overall. He gave up 1.07 PPP an was ranked 319th.

He defended pick-and-rolls almost as often at 25.7 percent, and fared much better. Ball-handlers scored 0.78 PPP against him, which was ranked 101st. The big difference between Dudley an Brown was the 3-point shooting.

Brown's speed served him well when chasing shooters off screen, which he did plenty of (18.4 percent of his plays). He held shooters to 38.1 percent overall and 3-12 shooting from deep, and gave up just 0.78 PPP (Rank 39).

Brown didn't defend isolations as much as Dudley did at only 11.8 percent of his possessions, but their numbers are pretty similar. Brown gave up 37.5 percent shooting, 0.84 PPP and was ranked 194th. The biggest difference between the two was that Brown was more prone to fouling.

Overall, Brown gave up 0.88 PPP and was ranked 280th. Brown wasn't that much better than Dudley, and Brown actually gave up a higher field goal percentage. The difference was opponents only shot 34.8 percent from 3-point range against Brown compared to an even 40 percent against Dudley.


Jared Dudley is a smart defender who plays hard but doesn't have the athleticism needed to really lock scorers down. Opponents also shot really well from deep against him, which may be his fault or may just be bad luck.

On the other hand, Brown has plenty of speed and strength but often loses his man which results in a lot of open jumpers.

If we could combine those two's strengths, we might have a really good defender on our hands. Sadly, that isn't possible, so we'll just have to make due as these are the guys who will be defending opposing shooting guards for the Suns this year.

Who would you like to see included in the Point Guard analysis?

  525 votes | Results

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