Phoenix Suns Robin Lopez (15) shoots over Houston Rockets' Jordan Hill during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

There is a lot of speculation on what will happen to Robin Lopez in the next few months. Rather than create an open dialogue on a hundred different possibilities, I thought I would narrow it down to one particular, realistic scenario for us to consider in this article.

I know we Suns fans are holding out for a better deal (Houston's Courtney Lee maybe, or Memphis' OJ Mayo, or just a late #1 pick), but today I just wanted to find out which of the "Houston 4" you'd want if we had no other offers and had to choose one.

The Suns have a recent history of being able to work with the Houston Rockets. Last year's trade was a bust for the Suns - Goran Dragic and a late #1 for Aaron Brooks - but at least we know the two teams can work together.

We are not here to talk about that trade. Really, we're not. We are here today to talk about trading Robin Lopez for one of the "Houston 4" - four lottery picks from the 2009 draft who were just told yesterday that they would be unrestricted free agents this summer. These are all young guys with talent who just couldn't make their careers happen yet. Kinda like Robin Lopez.

I know there are potentially other, better trades out there for Lopez. But you have to understand that the better the trade is for the Suns standpoint, the less likely it's going to happen. It's most likely that the best the Suns can do with Lopez is to trade him for a 2-month trial on someone else who, if they play well, the Suns would own that player's Bird Rights and would have recent familiarity with their "fit". At worst, the Suns still get the cap space this summer.

Hit the jump for a rundown of each of the 4, and then vote on your fave.

2009 #2 overall pick (by Memphis): Hasheem Thabeet

Measurements: 7'3", 263 lbs. Age 24. Shot-blocking machine who, in limited minutes, has shown the ability to block shots and rebound the ball. His problem is his motor, and probably his basketball IQ. He has poor instincts on both ends of the floor and is foul-prone. No post game. Houston is DESPERATE for a C, yet Thabeet gets zero playing time. And this for 2 different coaches (Adelman and McHale). Only appeared in 2 games this season.

2009 #6 overall pick (by Minnesota): Jonny Flynn

Measurements: 6'0", 185 lbs. Age 22. Quick, reputation for pick-and-roll ballhandling, but more of a shoot-first PG with poor decision-making. Does not draw contact, poor shooter, poor finisher. Terrible defensive player due to his lack size and strength. Graduated college with a great shot-making resume, but obviously has not translated to the NBA. When he was drafted, all I think could think of was Acie Law. While he profiles like Aaron Brooks, he's not even close in NBA talent.

2009 #8 overall pick (by NY Knicks): Jordan Hill

Measurements: 6'10", 235 lbs. Age 24. Was a star at U of A and considered a potential steal by New York - then eventually traded to Houston in a package for Tracy McGrady's expiring contract. Hill is has been a part-time starter for Houston this year, though Sam Dalembert is going to take that spot any time now. Lacks strength and ball skills. Softer than he looks. Poor defensive player, poor production in his minutes, but can block a few shots (while fouling like crazy). The only power forward worse than Hill last year in +/- numbers? Hakim Warrick. Ugh.

2009 #11 overall pick (by NJ Nets): Terrence Williams

Measurements: 6'6", 235 lbs. Age 24. Probably the best overall set of basketball skills in the bunch. He's very athletic, can create shots for others, rebounds well for a shooting guard. Can do a little of everything on the court. However, he can't make shots with consistency in the NBA and is turnover-prone. And worst of all, he has shown an uncoachable attitude, getting stuck to the end of the bench in each of his stops.

All of these guys are young and talented, but every one has disappointed his current team. There's a chance that another new environment would allow them to flourish, but there's also the chance that the Suns would just let them walk at the end of the year the way Houston wants to. And that means we got nothing for Lopez.

Footnote: everyone praised Houston GM Daryl Morey for stockpiling young talent. Well, most of that young talent is being simply let go for nothing this summer. The four above, plus Courtney Lee and Goran Dragic. All acquired through trade. All young and talented. All gone for nothing.

Poll
Which of the Houston 4 would you take in a straight-up trade for Robin Lopez?

  580 votes | Results


While teams across the league went to great lengths to extend their 2008 draft picks, the Phoenix Suns decided to stand pat with Robin Lopez, opting instead to deal with his contract situation during...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Suns center Robin Lopez was suspended today for one game without pay for making contact with an official in the second quarter of Phoenix’s loss to the Raptors on Tuesday night. Lopez will...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Robin Lopez Suspended One Game

Wonder if Gentry gives a shit?

You can watch a replay of the contact. One-game seems fair.


We can forget holding out hope that the Suns might drastically improve and make the playoffs this season. It's pretty simple: if you manage to lose to the Nets, Cavs and Raptors all at home, you're just not a good team at all. There's no two ways about it.

There's all kinds of reasons for this, namely an inability to execute on offense, especially when Nash sits, along with poor defensive efforts (save for a few games when it was impressive). There's also the fatigue factor, with the shortened and packed schedule seeming to be a bad thing for a team where two starters are almost 40. But let's not go over all that. What I want to look at is the shooting, specifically, the three point shooting.

Since the 2004/05 season when Nash returned to Phoenix, the Suns have been known as a great three point shooting team. Their ability to space the floor with good shooters who could knock down their shots was as vital to their success as anything else. Here's a look at the percentages for each season since Nash returned, along with the key performers from three point range. We'll ignore those who didn't shoot much, for example Maciej Lampe shot .667 from 3 in 2004/05, but only had three attempts.

(all stats taken from Basketball Reference)

2004/05 - 62-20, lost in WCF, first Nash MVP season

Suns shot .393, best in the league.

Best performers: Joe Johnson (.478), Jim Jackson (.459), Steve Nash (.431)

Not including Quentin Richardson, Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa and even Walter McCarty and Casey Jacobsen, who all shot between .334 and .385

2005/06 - 54-28, lost in WCF, second Nash MVP season

Suns shot .399, best in the league.

Best performers: Leandro Barbosa (.444), Raja Bell (.442), Steve Nash (.439), Tim Thomas (.429)

And that's not including Shawn Marion, James Jones and Eddie House...

2006/07 - 61-21, lost in WC semis.

Suns shot .399, best in league. Exactly identical to previous season.

Best performers: Steve Nash (.455), Leandro Barbosa (.434), Raja Bell (.413)

Again, not including Marion (although he dipped to .317), and Jalen Rose (.447 but only 21/47).

2007/08 - 55-27, lost in first round. Marion/Shaq trade.

Suns shot .393, a slight dip but best in league once more. Identical to 2004/05.

Best performers: Steve Nash (.470), Raja Bell (.401), Leandro Barbosa (.389)

Once more this doesn't include Marion's .347 clip through 47 games before his trade. Grant Hill's first season as a Sun saw him shoot .317 and that's about it. Nash's amazing .470 seems to have carried the team's %.

2008/09 - 46-36, no playoffs. Cheers Porter.

Suns shot .383, dropped to 5th best in league after four straight seasons of being 1st.

Best performers: Raja Bell (.468), Steve Nash (.439), Jared Dudley (.394), Jason Richardson (.383)

After those 4, there's only really Barbosa (.375) and Matt Barnes (.343) worth listing. Dragic and Hill combined only made 44.

2009/10 - 54-28, lost in WCF, the revival year.

Suns shot .412, their best since Nash's return, and of course back to best in the league.

Best performers: Jared Dudley (.458), Channing Frye (.439), Steve Nash (.426), Goran Dragic (.394), Jason Richardson (.393)

Grant Hill shot .438, almost good enough for second best on the team, but that was only 35/80. This is clearly rhe best season of three point shooting, with FIVE players amazingly hitting basically 40% or better, six when you include Grant nailing those corner threes he used to hit, even if in small doses.

2010/11 - 40-42, no playoffs. The beginning of the end, no more Amare.

Suns shot .377, good enough for 4th best in the league, but their lowest of the Nash era.

Best performers: Jared Dudley (.415), Jason Richardson (.419), Steve Nash and Grant Hill (both .395), Channing Frye (.390)

After those 4, there's Vince C*rter (.366) and Mickael Pietrus (.342). Apologies for reminding you of them.

And then we arrive at this current season:

Suns currently shooting .334, 17th best in the league. Seventeenth.

Best performers: Markieff Morris (.486), Sebastian Telfair (.417), Steve Nash (.375), Ronnie Price (.357).

Telfair and Price combine for only 1.1 attempts per game, so perhaps it's unfair to list them, but Channing Frye is shooting a mere .323 and Jared Dudley a .320, both a far cry from their previous seasons for the Suns. Shannon Brown is more or less the same at .326. And then we have Michael Redd, brought in to try and give the team a scoring boost. He's shooting .250 whenever he does actually make it onto the court. I suspected Grant Hill would have the worst shooting percentage, and he does. Those corner threes he used to knock down at a clip of .438 two seasons ago? Gone.

Grant Hill is shooting .158. Thankfully he's only averaging 0.2 attempts per game which is half of what he averaged in 2009/10.

The team as a whole is averaging exactly 19 attempts per game so far this season. By comparison, it was 22.6 last season, and they averaged 21.6 the season before (2009/10) when they shot their best from downtown.

So those are the stats. The Suns are more or less shooting the same amount of threes as last year, but with far worse results. Why?

Short training camp/packed schedule

The excuse/reasoning in the first few weeks was that the players were not in prime condition and that the shots would start to fall once the players' conditioning improved. With the exception of Steve Nash who showed a noticeable improvement in his shooting once his ribs recovered, that hasn't really been the case. Is there still time for it to happen? Possibly. I'm not hopeful. It seems strange that every single player's success rate has dropped.

Lack of inside presence/less floor spacing

Gortat has done really well offensively in the majority of games, the Boston one being the best example. He's no Amar'e though. He doesn't have as big an arsenal of weapons in his armoury, he's not as explosive, he doesn't force teams to double team him, and so on. The result is that the Suns don't get to space the floor and have open men as much as they used to, so a lot more of the shots are contested and/or rushed. That's my theory anyway, although I don't have the stats to back it up and frankly I'm statted out by this point. Just thinking back at the games played so far this season, it's hard to recall some clearly open three point attempts. Frye always seems to have an arm in his face, ditto Dudley. But then, the Suns didn't have Amar'e last season either and weren't nearly as bad.

Slower offense

It could well be the slower offense, leading to slower ball movement and failing to swing the ball to the open man as effectively as they used to. There's a noticeable lack of pace in the offense this season, and it's definitely related to the team's poor three point shooting.

Cheap imitations

The most obvious reason is of course that the players currently on the roster simply aren't as good outside shooters as what the previous rosters had. Where there was once Q-Rich, Barbosa, Raja, J-Rich and the likes, the Suns now have Shannon Brown, Ronnie Price, Sebastian Telfair and a finished Michael Redd. That's the most obvious thing. The Suns used to be deep with competent three point shooters. Now, they have only three (Nash, Frye, Dudley), with two of them just not producing.

The Suns are no longer a good three point shooting team, that's the reality. Even if Frye and Dudley start hitting their shots, they are still going to be a distinctly average three point shooting team. With this roster, there's sadly no way out of that.


Page 1036 of 1564

1036

Sponsored Ads