San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, of France, left, drives against  Phoenix Suns' Robin Lopez, right, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 20, 2010 in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Eric Gay - AP

10 days ago: San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, of France, left, drives against Phoenix Suns' Robin Lopez, right, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 20, 2010 in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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Last in the league in defensive efficiency? Really? I know someone has to be last, but come on. This is ridiculous.

Currently, the Suns are the league's worst defense, giving up 113.8 points per 100 possessions. Their defense is so bad it would make their own offense look even better than it does (112 points per 100 possessions, 3rd overall).

In their most-recent 10-man rotation Last week, the Suns "boasted" 6 of 10 rotation players with a defensive reputation "better-than-horrible": Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, Grant Hill, Channing Frye and Robin Lopez. Sure the other 4 really were horrible, but mathematically-speaking, shouldn't that add up to something better than horrible?  

Yet, that's where the Suns stand. Horrible on defense. Bad rotations, bad switches, gimmicky schemes.

This week, the Suns replaced 2 of the 4 horrible defenders (Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson) with 2 reputedly better-than-horrible defenders (Marcin Gortat and Mikael Pietrus) and another horrible one (Vince Carter).

That makes an 11-man rotation with 8 better-than-horrible defenders.

Gentry had better be able to get some defensive results from this crew.

Even the remaining horrible defenders have successfully assimilated into highly respectable defenses - Carter with New Jersey and Orlando, Nash with the Suns in the mid-2000s and Warrick with Milwaukee and Chicago last season.

So we should expect some results, right? Somewhere around the middle of the pack or higher?

Maybe the Suns should employ Larry Brown as a short-term consultant on defense. He and Gentry have a long history together and he's got plenty of time on his hands now after being let go from Charlotte.

Just imagine if the Suns had passable defense this year, if not downright stingy?

How far can the league's best offense, combined with a mid-pack defense, go? Pretty far, actually.


On this edition of the ValleyoftheSuns podcast, Michael Schwartz and Mike Schmitz break down the players the Suns acquired in their blockbuster trade with Orlando, discuss potential future moves and...

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At the onset of the 2010 season, the biggest question for the Suns was how long it would take for their new acquisitions to gel together. More than a quarter of the way through the schedule, Phoenix...

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PHOENIX — At the onset of the 2010-11 season, the biggest question for the Suns was how long it would take for their new acquisitions to gel together. More than a quarter of the way through the...

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

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So Long Homie - You Will be Missed.

So after taking a few weeks off of furious commenting and post trolling to concentrate on finals and meditation ( I got straight A’s and I’m now officially graduated and gots my edumacation degree BTW), I’m back with a steamy blog dump for all my rabid Bieber-ific fans.  Mmmmmm. Merry Christmas.

So we all knew that this time would come where we’d either have to commit the next 4-5 years to extend the Jason Richardson era, or use his enticing expiring contract to make a big trade.  We probably weren’t guessing that the timing would be such as it was, or that Hedo would be involved in the trade… scratch that – maybe many of you really hoped Hedo would be involved. :) Nevertheless it’s gone down like the Titanic and both the Suns and the Magic will either sink or float with their new rosters.

I love the trade.  Hate to see JRich go… but absolutely heart this deal.

More filthiness after the jump suckaz.

In a recent post right after the trade Seth wrote,

Essentially, the Suns are sacrificing this season to get Marcin Gortat and perhaps one more year of Mickael Pietrus along with a Orlando's first round pick which will be in the mid-to-late 20's.

How's that sit with you, Suns fans?

How does that sit with me?  I don't agree with the apparent fact, ‘the Suns are sacrificing this season' - so it doesn't sit with me at all. 

For my ritual of throwing Scott Howard under the bus, I chose this comment I saw this week that suggests that maybe Seth and Scott are having a little too many happy-hour brainstorming sessions,

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Are we really throwing this season away?  I meandered through enough of the 1000+ comments that we as a community have produced to get a feeling of where everybody kind of stands... and really, the arguments people are making to try and convince that this team is worse off and that this season is officially garbage are pretty weak to say the least. 

Let me throw down some statistical gems first. 

Here's a key:

ORtg - Offensive Rating: Estimate of points produced per 100 possessions

DRtg - Defensive Rating: Estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions

TRB% - True Rebounding %: Estimate of the % of rebounds a player grabbed while on the floor

TS% - True Shooting %: Measure of shooting efficiency

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The stat that immediately jumps out at me is Gortat's 99 for his DRtg this year - the last time the Suns had a regular rotation player with a DRtg under 100 was way back in the 2002-03 season when Shawn Marion had a DRtg of 98 (and that was the last time he's had a rating under a 100 for his career).   Before this trade - Channing Frye was the one on our team sporting the lowest DRtg at a whopping 111.  Wow.

All three of the guys coming in have really good defensive ratings which is a wonderful thing that all of us screaming for more defense should be embracing with borderline awkward bear-hugs.   The overall impact this would have on the team is that we would bump up from being rated dead last at 30 in the NBA for DRtg (previously at a 113.8 average for the team) to 27 with an average DRtg of 111.08.   That might not seem like much, but it is a lot closer to the 110.2 DRtg average we had last year (which was 23rd in the league) which for a team with as much offensive explosiveness as we have can make a huge difference.

Speaking of our offense - I won't completely dismiss the fact that we just traded our number 1 scorer in JRich - but ya'll shouldn't dismiss the fact that this team has lead the league in offense for the past number of years JRich or not.

Pre-trade we had an average ORtg of 112 (3rd best in the league) - with the math and factoring post-trade we will have an ORtg that will be even higher than that. 

So wait - we will have better offense AND better defense?  Yeah, that just happened.

Not to mention the fact that stylistically both Gortat and Pietrus are better fitting pieces than Barron and Turkaglu.  Barron gave us the hustle and physicality but no offense - Gortat offers both and more with the potential to be Polish Hammerific on the PnR with either Steve or Dragic.  He has good hands and great touch around the rim, we will see an immediate improvement offensively around the glass and in the paint with his insertion into the rotation.

Pietrus can work as a good perimeter defender as well as spot up and shoot the ball from wherever, he's also very athletic and can finish on the fast break or in traffic crashing the boards - Turkaglu needs the ball in his hands more which didn't bode well for the team especially when you have PG's that create like we do, he was also not the best defensive player for us committing fouls often in the paint and getting beat out on the perimeter. 

Vince Carter?  We'll see - he's definitely an injury waiting to happen.  But as has been suggested by all - with our training staff he might find the health he needs to play the entire season with us.  Even if he continues to produce here in Phoenix the numbers he was creating this year with Orlando, this should be more than enough to carry a scoring load that would help the Suns continue to be near the top of the league in offense.   His health is a huge contingency - but Vince is a bonafide scorer in this league and with the style and company he's rolling with now, I will not be surprised when he regularly scores around the  20 pt mark.

Now let me throw down some character pearls to go with that -

So statistically our defense should improve and if Vince can stay healthy our offense has potential to improve a lot as well.  If you think I'm WAY off base with this assumption let me know why.

Now we know JRich was a high character guy and a big part of the Mojo Nash and Hill are always talking about when it comes to team Chemistry.  But we didn't hear too much about Earl Clark being the life of the party and we definitely didn't hear about how Hedo was buying the guys Steaks and Shirley Temples late at night on the road...

There can be little doubt though that the 3 coming in from Orlando will have little problems 'gelling' with the current Suns.  Besides the fact that I think these guys are hard working, hilarious and that they'll fit right in - it's obvious that they are fitting in pretty fast when Steve Nash, Jared Dudley and Mickael Pietrus are already establishing a relationship just check some of the twitter conversations these guys are throwing out there.

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Yeah - pretty funny stuff.   In case you missed the press conference yesterday, Pietrus and Vince Carter were also pretty funny there as well here's a snip,

Pietrus: I’m very excited to be here to be a sun today and I can’t wait to get started and get the franchise the way it needs to be.

Carter: It’s a pleasure to be here. We feel like it’s a great opportunity for us. We feel like we fit well in this offense and it’s been a storied organization for years and years and we just want to continue to build and help this organization get to where we feel they can be and that’s winning championships. So Uh, they have a great piece and I think the point guard this year, um, (snapping fingers), um, what’s his name?

Pietrus: Mickael Pietrus.

Carter: No, yeah Nash. So we’re excited about the opportunity so thanks for having us and thanks for welcoming us to the team.

Besides who can't help but smile when I dude with a funny accent is actually funny as well?

As for Gortat - this guy sounded super-motivated to get out of Dwight Howard's shadow and monkey-jam on any and everyone here with Phoenix.  As for what he's like and how he'll fit in with the team chemistry wise?  All I will say is this, YOU HAVE TO WATCH THESE NEXT TWO VIDEOS.  This dude is legit funny.

So all in all I am very excited about this trade and what it will do for this team this season especially.  We've had Seth and others extensively go over the future impact of these deals with the expiring contracts and future flexibility for trades and whatnot and yattatayayatayty blalbalblaaala.  I get all that.  I really do - but I can't for the life of me see where we're getting off saying that this season is a wrap.  This isn't the Cardinals we're talking about - this is the Phoenix Suns.  We're still only a game out of 8th in the West and 6 games out of a 4 seed and we arguably just made our team better.  So what's with all the panic? 

Be patient my home skillets - I think we'll be just fine and back in the playoff scramble in no time.  Even if we lose to Miami and L.A. this week, two teams that are on top of their game right now - I'm not hitting the panic button.  It's a long season and I have a feeling these new additions will make this team a potent threat in the West again. 

All we need is that puncher's chance in the playoffs.  We can be gellin' like a felon by then.

Peace.

*Thanks to Matt York From the AP for the sweet pic of a reminiscing JRich at the top

 

[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/22/10 4:40 PM MST ]

Good stuff Euts, and congrats on the graduation. Welcome to the world.

As for the Gortat love, feast on this...

Marcin Gortat And Robin Lopez Create The Great Wall Of Phoenix - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona

"Definitely not (allowing layups) even if I have to sit down with six (fouls). I'm going to be waiting over there for LeBron and D-Wade," Gortat said with the kind of big man bravado Suns fans haven't heard since Shaq left.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/22/10 5:26 PM MST ]

In lieu of a full blown practice report today, we will make like a self service gas station....here's the audio, pump yourself.

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