Perhaps it's because Len played for a underrespected school with a poor record of postseason play or maybe his fellow rookies just aren't impressed by the Ukrainian big man's talents, but Alex Len was ignored by his peers when they completed a survey for during their recent Rookie Photo Shoot in New York.

Len didn't even get a single vote when it came time to answer "Who will be the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year?" and "Which rookie will have the best career?" questions. Or any other question on the survey for that matter. Len literally got zero votes despite being the fifth overall pick in the draft. That's impressive.

Is it possible his fellow players are better judges of talent and ability (and ankle strength) than the vaunted Ryan McDonough Machine?

Local hope for the future of mankind, Archie Goodwin, did receive a couple of mentions. He got some votes in the "Most Athletic" and "Best Defender" categories. At least Archie's peers seem to know his name, which apparently isn't the case when it comes to the new Suns center.

Magic's Oladipo among rookie favorites to stand out in 2013-14 |
This crop of rooks isn't coming into the league with much hype, but there are a couple of players who could make an impact right away. There are also a few that will get plenty of playing time with bad teams. Victor Oladipo is one of those, and he could be the star of the class -- both short-and long-term -- according to the players who know him best.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Record: 14-13 (4-2)

Place In Standings: Third (+1.0 on Seattle)

Points Per Game: 81.0 (77.6)

Points Against: 82.0 (72.6)


It seems as soon as the Phoenix Mercury gain some momentum, they hit a wall, and then have to figure everything out all over again. The team has had high peaks like winning three games in a row at home with strong defense, but the momentum gets snapped with their low points like a loss to a potential playoff team like the Seattle Storm or the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Overall the team is comfortable in the playoff hunt as the third seed today (1.0 games ahead of Seattle) and four games ahead of the Silver Stars for the fourth spot. With seven games remaining making the playoffs is realistic, but staying in that third spot is not a given.

This season the Mercury are now a combined 2-9 against the other three playoff teams. This loss to the Storm was the perfect storm to give them the first season sweep of the Mercury since 2010. In losses this season the two common denominators that have plagued the Mercury have been turnovers (16) and losing the rebounding battle (-4). Teams like the Minnesota Lynx, Los Angeles Sparks, and the Storm do that to them. It does not make sense that the Mercury lost this game when you look at the shooting (47.1%), free-throws (20 points), sharing the ball (20 assists) alluding to a positive offensive performance, but that is why this game is played on both sides of the ball.


The Importance of the Third Spot...

As mentioned above the Mercury are 2-9 against the other Western Conference Playoff teams. Adding in their performances against the Eastern Conference Playoffs teams they are 6-10 against teams they may face in the race to a Championship. Obviously they have done better against the East this season.

Specifically with the West, it is important for the Mercury to secure the third spot in the playoffs with their combined record against Minnesota (0-5) and Seattle (0-3). Avoiding the Lynx in the first round and giving themselves an opportunity in the first round to make it to the Conference Finals is a strategy that has to be discussed. Eventually there has to be a meeting of the Lynx to get to the ultimate goal, but pushing that out with some momentum in a series against Los Angeles could benefit them. Then again, they may not be as good this season as most thought...


...and Quality Defense.

Where did it go?

After the three game winning streak against the worst team in the West and the injury riddled defending Champs there was mention of "grains of salt." Since then the team has reverted back to their old ways giving up 85.0 points per game losing three out of four games. These three games was an unsavory call-back to the turnover prone, poor rebounding, and poor defending Mercury teams of recent years and even earlier this season.

Was the defense a product of a new coach?

Was it a product of playing against inferior competition?

Were the first three games the outlier and the last three games the norm? Or is it the inverse of that?

Again, like I have said numerous times this season; this team has more questions than answers and more potential than substance on the year. How can that change in a week, and furthermore, over the final seven games of the season?


Upcoming Schedule:

Saturday vs. Connecticut Sun at 7 p.m. AZ Time

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Editor’s Note: The following column is the second in a two-part series in which the VotS staff debates the ideal course of action for the Suns’ upcoming season. Saturday, Ryan Weisert argued that the...

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The Phoenix Suns responses to Michael Beasley's transgressions began last year with loud support and vigorous defense.

Now, there is just silence.

When Beasley was signed last summer, former GM Lance Blanks and current PBO Lon Babby spoke in glowing terms of Beasley's potential and how much support he would receive after joining the Suns fold. They brought along a mentor who'd helped Beasley before (Norm Nixon) and promised to give him every chance to succeed.

When Beasley was pulled over two months into the season for speeding in the middle of the night down Scottsdale Road, the Suns responded quickly with a statement (check the StoryStream on the right) and 100% support of their new forward.

When Beasley was reportedly investigated three months ago for sexual assault, the Suns (now sans Beasley's champion Lance Blanks) did not hold a press conference to ask for patience with the troubled star. They said they needed to investigate the facts, and spoke cautiously of his skillset.

Now, when Beasley got himself arrested earlier this month, there is only silence. This time, when pulled over for a routine traffic stop because he was speeding down Scottsdale Road, the cops found pot and arrested him. This time, the Suns did not respond. No statement. No interviews. Three weeks later, still nothing.

This is not a good sign for Mr. Michael Beasley.

The scene is all too familiar for SuperCool Beas, who has burned bridges with two prior teams for these same types of transgressions and runs the risk of doing it a third time right now. The difference between the Suns and the HEAT or Timberwolves is that (a) the Suns have committed a lot more guaranteed salary to Beasley and (b) the Suns just might be his last, best hope.

If the Suns release Beasley, there's no telling what will happen to the young man personally or professionally. Maybe he will turn his life around, maybe he won't. Odds lean to the latter.

The question is not whether the Suns think Beasley has the talent to become an NBA star. The question is just how paternal the Suns feel toward saving a life in the balance.

Option 1: Release him by August 31

If the Suns release Beasley sometime in the next week, they would stretch out his payments evenly over the next FIVE years (twice the years remaining on the contract, plus 1). For Beasley, that would be $1.8 million per year.

If they do this to spread out the financial hit, they still have the ability to absorb the whole CAP hit in two seasons while they rebuild ($6 million this year, $3 million next year), freeing money in future years when it's time to spend again.

  • If the player is waived from July 1 to August 31, then his remaining salary is paid over twice the number of years remaining on his contract, plus one.
  • If the player's salary payments are spread-out using the Stretch provision, the team may elect to stretch the salary cap charge to match.

The only reason to take this option is if the Suns really need to cap room right now. They already have 16 players under contract for 2013-14 season, though Channing Frye might not play and Malcolm Lee might be unavailable as well.

The only reason to release Beasley in the next week is if McDonough can pull another Bledsoe trade out of thin air. If he can acquire a young, up and coming player in the next 7 days while absorbing a bigger contract, then it might be worth releasing Beasley now. But even then, Beasley's hit drops by just $4.2 million, meaning the Suns could not take more than an additional $4.2 million in such a trade.

Short of this kind of deal, I see no reason to release Beasley now. Releasing him now keeps $1.8 million on the books for the next 5 years, when the Suns might just need the cap room at some point in the coming years.

Option 2: Release him between September 1 and June 30

If the Suns want to eat most of the salary paid to Beasley this season, in order to clear the books in the near future, they could decide to release Beasley on or after September 1.

In such a move, Robert Sarver would pay Beasley his full salary this season ($6 million), with the final $3 million being stretched over 3 subsequent seasons ($1 million per year).

  • If the player is waived from September 1 to June 30, then the current season is paid per the normal payment schedule, and any remaining years are stretched over twice the number of years remaining plus one as described above.
  • If the player's salary payments are spread-out using the Stretch provision, the team may elect to stretch the salary cap charge to match.

Again, the Suns still have the option of absorbing the whole CAP hit over the next two seasons, even though some of the cash is being paid for years beyond.

This option, to me, is the best option overall. Waiting until after September 1 clears the most money the soonest. The Suns cap is already in good shape for the season with 16 guys under contract. The Suns don't need the cap room this year, unless there's an opportunity to do another Bledsoe trade as mentioned above.

Option 3: Do nothing. Keep him. Mentor him.

It's human nature to want to mentor Beasley and save him from himself.

As Jeff Caplan reports in an article, new Suns forward Caron Butler sees how tenuous Beasley's situation really is.

"I think there's a lot that can be done to help him and I think one is, and this is not from the organization or anything, but it's just for the people who are around him and love him most, is just don't give up on him, try to help him as much as possible, build him up because he's a star," Butler told during a phone interview from his new home in Phoenix.

"He's a guy that had an unbelievable collegiate career, who came into the NBA as a top-two pick, so the talent is there, it hasn't gone anywhere. It's like clay, it just needs to be molded right. Somebody needs to be around him, talking to him and telling him the right things and building him up and keeping nothing but positive energy around him and moving him forward instead of pulling him back."

The Suns tried the hands-on approach last season to disastrous effect, while former teams have done the same with similar failure.

Beasley still has friends pulling for him. Udonis Haslem and Alonzo Mourning both wish he could succeed.

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, via

"For me, with Bease, it's even more heartfelt, because his locker was by mine for so many years," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said this past week when informed of Beasley's latest incident. "And I tried to be as much of a mentor and just guide him in the right direction as much as I could. You know, it's unfortunate and I just wish him the best."

Despite losing his starting role to a still-unproven Beasley in 2009-10, Haslem has remained close to the troubled forward.

"I thought he was past this," Haslem said before a promotional appearance in Boca Raton, "and hopefully it's a bump in the road and he'll continue to move forward and try to get better. I'm looking forward to try to reach out to him in the next couple of days."


"It hurts me, it does," Mourning said from the symposium in New Jersey. "I still look at him as part of this NBA fraternity and a brother. And when something happens to one of us, it's a reflection on all of us, past and present. So there's a disappointment there from that perspective. "Some people get it sooner than others. When I say, 'get it,' I mean the information and support. I can't tell you the conversations I have with young people on a regular basis, in hopes they get it sooner than later."

This list of "mentors" is growing by the year. Mourning. Haslem. Jermaine O'Neal, with the Suns. And now Butler wants a crack at him.

But the Suns have to decide what impact that will have on the rest of the team.

If Channing Frye returns next season, there is a real logjam at the PF position where Beasley would be most effective in the NBA. But if Frye doesn't return, then the Suns could use Beasley as an offensive threat off the bench.

In the locker room and practice, Beasley is not a bad guy. He just has really bad habits that young players could emulate, which could stunt their growth. That's already happened with Marshall and Morrii, who saw the Suns enabling Beasley's behavior for too long.

Still, Caron Butler wants to throw his hat in the ring to help save Beasley. And the Suns have to pay a salary regardless.

It's quite possible we will see Beasley in the new Suns uniform after all.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Editor’s Note: The following column is the first in a two-part series in which the VotS staff will debate the ideal course of action for the Suns’ upcoming season. Today, Ryan Weisert argues that the...

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