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Welcome to the fifth piece of the 2010-11 Phoenix Suns Player Evaluations. We here at Bright Side of the Sun have assembled somewhat of an All-Star cast of writers to put together alternative views on the players, front office, and coaches. Your favorite and least favorite Suns will no doubt get plenty of attention, and the compliments or criticism they deserve.

In June 2010, the Phoenix Suns were fresh off a miraculous and unpredicted run to the Western Conference Finals. On the strength of Amar'e Stoudemire, the creativity of a healthy Steve Nash, and one of the best bench units I've witnessed in years, the Suns appeared to have it all. Except the right asking price for Amar'e Stoudemire.

In the wake of Stoudemire's departure, the Phoenix Suns desperately pieced together a myriad of players of varying styles of play and prayed for the best. Those players were Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, and last but not least, Hakim Warrick.

There were many that thought Hakim could step into an Amar'e-lite role as Nash's roll man, myself included. His history as a dunker (and not much else) preceded him, so expectations weren't too high. No one expected Warrick to be Amar'e. A few expected him to be a bit better than he was, but as the season progressed, Warrick found himself settling into a nice spot on this Phoenix Suns team.

Some may clamor about his lack of defense and others may whine about his inconsistency. Yet, through all the ups and thunderous downs we've experienced, Hakim has been just what we've needed him to be. Well, almost.

Hakim Warrick has undoubtedly been one of the bigger question marks of the past season. In the first third of the season, Warrick saw consistent minutes as Robin Lopez (again) healed from injury. During a 4-game stretch in one of the closing weeks of November, Hakim averaged 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. He also made his way to the free throw line an average of 9.3 times per game, knocking down 83.8% percent of his free tosses. This stellar week of play earned him a spot in the starting lineup against the Denver Nuggets.

The result, however, was disastrous. Shooting just 25% from the field, Hakim managed just 8 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. The game was just as ugly as Warrick's trip to the starting lineup, too. The Nuggets out-throttled the Suns in what was one of the worst defensive performances all season, with Denver winning 138-133.

Warrick then returned to the bench, where we all knew he belonged in the first place. This was partly to do with his failure as a starter, but more because playing on the bench caters to his strengths more than playing with the starting unit. Warrick, at his best, is an above average finisher with exceptional athletic ability. His rebounding mechanics are decent, but his mindset is almost never completely focused on chasing down loose balls.

While Warrick certainly has his limitations, he is just what the Suns need on their bench to get back to their volatile bench form of yesteryear. Hakim can come into games and, as we have witnessed on multiple occasions, get opposing bigs into foul trouble by getting to the free throw line. He tends to play better against weaker competition, as the larger, wider bodies of the starting units give him trouble. He also began developing his midrange jumper as the season progressed. While the shot is goofy and looks extremely unnatural, it began to find the bottom of the net with more frequency.

On top of the weaknesses of other teams that Warrick has become surprisingly good at exploiting, he is currently signed to a very reasonable contract. He will be making a modest $13.92 million over the next three seasons. Compared to other bigs in the league that received contracts last summer, Warrick is looking more and more like a steal. Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza, Darko Milicic and Tyrus Thomas, among others, are all players making more money than Warrick who produced similarly or worse than Warrick.

If Warrick can continue to develop his game with the bench unit, there's no telling what his value to the team can be. It was the inconsistency of the big men of this team that led Warrick to the predicament he's in now. Without a star power forward, the Suns were looking for the best player to step in and be the player they needed. Unfortunately, the Suns never found that player, which led to a irregular rotations and shifting lineups.

Once the Suns find the big man they can consistently stick in the starting lineup alongside Gortat, Warrick's play will improve. Until then, we Suns fans must have patience with Hakim Warrick. He may not be our dream player, but he has shown the willingness to work on his weaknesses. If he can continue working on his rebounding, defense, and overall game, he could become a very solid option off the bench.

Warrick showed flashes of the player he could be for this team in various stretches during the season, and the Suns would be foolish to give up on a player that could become a valuable asset down the line. Plus, who wants to lose this?

 

 

 


The Phoenix Suns managed to dump Hedo Turkoglu’s contract and steal away Marcin Gortat because the Orlando Magic figured they had to shake up their core for a shot to win now. If we’re...

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Half of the eight first round playoff series have already concluded, and three more have the chance to do so tonight, as the Hawks, Lakers and Mavericks take 3-2 leads into their game 6's.

Tonight's games:

Orlando at Atlanta, 4:30PM PDT, NBA TV. Hawks lead series 3-2.

LA Lakers at New Orleans, 5:00PM PDT, TNT. Lakers lead series 3-2.

Dallas at Portland, 7:30PM PDT, TNT. Mavs lead series 3-2.


Grant Hill Says Pistons Mismanaged His Ankle Injury

"It’s still bothering me," Hill said. "I pull myself in the third quarter. They put me on some heavy medication and we had a long break between Game 1 and Game 2. While I was on this medication I felt great. Obviously it was masking the pain. Went out and played in Game 2 and I felt a pop in the second quarter, continued on in the third quarter and couldn’t go on. When we got back, we found out it was broken."


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Welcome to the fourth piece of the 2010-11 Phoenix Suns Player Evaluations. We here at Bright Side of the Sun have assembled an opinionated and seemingly educated cast of writers to put together alternative views on the players, front office, and coaches. Your favorite and least favorite Suns will no doubt get plenty of attention, and the fuzzy compliments or scathing criticism they deserve. Unless we're talking Garrett SIler. Nothing but love for the purest example of the effects of gravity...Onward, playas:

I'm going to be blunt. Robin Lopez was a major disappointment this season. He sucked. Big time. We all know this, so I'm not going to go into depth on his player evaluation for the 2010-11 season. He got an F, we know that. Besides, with the exception of a few games, there was nothing exciting about Lopez's season anyway.

Instead, I'm going to determine why it is he regressed, his true potential, if he has what it takes to reach it, if he can reach it and why the Phoenix Suns should trade him.

Regression, oppression, depression...

"I can't put a finger on why it is he regressed this season."-Gentry

Well G, I can. He regressed due to injury, lack of confidence, team chemistry and high expectations.

First off, let's not forget that Robin was putting up around 12 and 7 for about 30 games as a starter last season, while providing good defense and average rebounding. It was pretty much his break-out year. I'd also like to note that the Phoenix Suns were a top 5 rebounding team in the league during that stretch all thanks to Lopez and his boxing-out abilities. I'm not one for stats, but here's a good one;

The Impact and Development of Robin Lopez

"The Suns "pre-Robin" were -2.29 in rebounding differential, which ranks around 26th in the league.

Since Robin has entered the starting lineup, the Suns have a +3.68 rebound differential which ranks 2nd in the league. That's a swing of +5.98 in rebound differential. THAT'S HUGE!!!" -Seth Pollack

Yes, that was quite the impact and it's also something that needs to be kept in mind when evaluating and determining Lopez's worth and potential.

Although, as we know, Robin took quite a fall this season due to the injuries and to the loss of Amare Stoudemire which East Bay Ray has already expounded upon.

However, I would like to add that Lopez, throughout most of his career (including college) has enjoyed the luxury of playing besides an inside-scorer who took pressure off him, so I have to ask the question, can Robin Lopez be an intimidating factor in this league without Amar'e Stoudemire, Brook Lopez...? When he played his best basketball it was next to a scoring big-man, so I also have to ask, is Robin one of those guys that needs to have certain players around him in order to be productive or can he learn to adjust his game without them?

Now you may say, "Beavis, where are your stats to back this up?".  Don't need em. It's no secret that throughout his career, Lopez has usually played poorly in 10-15mpg or rarely seen the court at all when he didn't have a scoring big next to him.

Then you've got the high expectations.

Phoenix Suns Season Preview: The Bigs

This season I look for Lopez to continue his maturation. He had a great second half of the season in '09-'10 but in '10-'11 we'll need to see that kind of play consistently for the entire season. I completely expect him to make another jump, cut down on some of the silly fouls, take a little more care of the ball and really make an improvement in the pick-and-roll game with Nash. If there is any player on this team that can make it so we're not crying over the loss of Amare at the All-Star break it would be Lopez.- Watdogg10

I assume this was the popular belief among Suns fans including myself. However, Lopez did the exact opposite and made us cry over the loss of Amar'e even more. Many of us were hoping he could become an all-star or at least a borderline one. Instead it was Marcin Gortat who stepped up and became that man. However, he came at the expense of J-Rich and Barbosa/Hedo. It wasn't fair for us and even the team to place those kind of expectations on Robin. He wasn't ready for it, he was only 22 and still recovering from injuries. We expected him to help carry this team, unfortunately the burden we placed on him was too heavy and it broke his back, legs, spirit, confidence....

What is Lopez's Potential? Can he reach it? Does he have what it takes?

Robin Lopez can become a good, athletic, defensive center in this league with a nice, but not great offensive game.  Robin-lopez_medium

I don't see him ever becoming a good rebounder, but I do expect slight improvements in the future. I see him as an exceptional, starting center at best, but not an all-star.

I expect him to improve as long as he works hard, but I think his injuries will keep him from reaching his ceiling. We must ask the question, will Lopez ever regain his athleticism? To those who don't remember, this was him 2 years ago. Now look at him. He's slow, clumsy and runs like an old man. I'm afraid his back will give out every time I see him on the court.

I am not sure if Robin has what it takes to reach his potential. There were many times in the past season where he looked soft and like he just didn't care. He used to call himself the "Enforcer". He used to talk about how badly he wanted to be the defensive anchor for this team and to do the things they needed him to do, like rebound.... What happened to this burning desire and undeniable passion? I don't see it anymore and that makes me question his mental toughness. However, the jury is still out. I don't believe it's fair to judge his work ethic after one bad year where he was plagued by injuries. The true test to his character will be how he responds next season. I don't know what to expect from him though, but that doesn't matter anyway as the Suns should trade him.

Why the Phoenix Suns should trade Robin Lopez

You know who Robin Lopez is and I have reminded you of who he was. I've shown you the good and I've shown you the bad. I've analyzed it, I've evaluated it, I've Googled it, I've Wikipediaed it and have come to to the conclusion that it is best the Phoenix Suns trade him while they still can.

First, he's only proved that he can be a force when paired with a scoring big. In fact, I don't think he's ever gotten used to playing without one.

The main reason though is that he's injury prone. He broke his foot during training camp of 09 which kept him out for a couple months, then this injury and of course the back spasms which I fear he'll have to deal with for the rest of his life. I'm afraid he'll never fully regain his athleticism and even if he does, what's to stop him from getting hurt again? That back will always cause problems from time to time. Yes, Nash suffers from back problems too, but he's got an amazing work ethic, diet and strategy to keep it from holding him back.  Plus, he's a PG. A 7-footer with back spasms scares me much more.  Just look at Oden, Ming, Bynum.... Big guys are just much more prone to injury. Robin Lopez isn't worth the risk and he even if he makes a comeback next season he's still not worth the cash teams usually dish out to players after a good year, because what if he goes and pulls a Tyson Chandler the year later? This team has got enough bad contracts to worry about.

What's the point in keeping him when he could help the Suns land a player such as Josh Smith or Paul Millsap? Yes, teams will look at his injury history, but if he's an add-on (not a throw-in) to a trade than I don't see why they wouldn't take him? Group him with a 1st round pick, Pietrus/Warrick, Aaron Brooks and with good negotiating the Suns could get a really good piece back. Or, if the FO decides to think smaller, they could deal him for someone like OJ Mayo if they're willing to take that risk. Of course, I'd prefer that the FO thinks big.

Despite the bad season, he's still a young, 7-footer with a lot of potential and so he does have value, because when healthy and paired with a scoring big-man he can have a positive impact on your team. Other than the Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz, I'm sure there are more teams out there who would be interested in him for those very reasons.

So you see? This is why the FO featuring Babs and Blanks must sell Lopez as an add-on and not a throw-in to a trade because he really does have value and it is higher than most would think. It'd be a failure if they are unable to get an upgrade in return.

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Now you may ask me, "Beavis, if the Suns don't think Lopez is worth the risk than why it would any other team think he is?".

Well, it's common logic. We all screw up at some point. Someone is going to get desperate and make a bad choice. Someone is going to gamble and lose out big time. If the Suns keep Lopez and he produces next year, someone is going to give him a contract they'll later regret. 

Now on the other hand, some teams might just be willing to take that risk and that's all good because they may need a center. Nothing wrong with that. It really just depends on how much cash they give him. You don't want to overpay for a young big with a history of injuries. So let's say Robin produces 8 and 5 next year, I wouldn't go out and give him a Gortat like contract.

The Phoenix Suns just don't need Robin Lopez. It'd be unnecessary for them to take that risk. They already have their guy in Gortat and they've got Frye. They need a Power-Forward. Guess what though? There are teams out there who do need centers, so why not use Robin as bait to get that PF? Sell him, just don't sell him low . 


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