20130123_kkt_an4_318

What have we learned so far about the Lindsey Hunter Suns? Not much. The rotations have been tighter with nine guys seeing action. The youth movement some were expecting hasn't materialized. The team is playing hard, but they (mostly) did that before. They are better defensively according to the stats but small sample size.

Oh, and Michael Beasley has had two decent games after being freed from Gentry's dog house where he somehow managed to piss off the old coach with some undisclosed off-court antics.

Q&A: Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry on the Suns' Struggles and Michael Beasley - The Triangle Blog - Grantland
It can mean almost anything when coaches point to "off-court" problems. Can you elaborate at all?

I can’t elaborate on it. I think Michael has a good idea, and most of us have a good idea of some areas he has to work on. But we keep that in-house.

Many of us had hope that Beasley would gel with Gentry and the young and immature talent would blossom into some kind of consistent basketball player. That obviously didn't happen and there's little doubt that Michael was one of the few players happy to see the coaching change.

Three games, however, isn't much and if Hunter intends to live up to his accountability mantra, it seems like the clock is ticking before we see Beasley benched due to poor defensive effort. That has to be the mostly likely outcome at this point.

But you just never know what might click with a guy like Beasley. If Lindsey can manage to turn the Beas into a productive and CONSISTENT player, then forget about giving him a long-term contract, the Suns should just put him directly into the Ring of Honor.

Mavericks

Shawn Marion (the only Suns player who's jersey I own) will appear in his 1,000th game on Sunday. Fittingly, the milestone comes against the team where he logged 660 of those games. Trix will be only the 107th player in NBA history to achieve this mark. Well done, Shawn.

The Mavericks are seven games under .500 but have won five of their last seven and might just be rounding into form. According to our friends at Mavs Moneyball, they are in that classic part of the season leading up to the trade deadline next month. If they can continue to play well, they might be buyers at the deadline or at least stand pat and make a run. If not, they might dump some players in return for "future assets".

You certainly get a sense that their season is at a tipping point.

Dirk is back at the helm after missing the first two month's of the season. In his 16 games back from knee surgery, he's shooting just 40.9 percent and has yet to score more than 20 points in a game.

The biggest offensive threat for the Mavs remains O.J. Mayo (18 ppg, .456 FG%).

The Mavericks rank 19th with an Off Rtg of 104 and 22nd with 106.9 Def Rtg. The Suns are 23rd and 25th respectively.

Game tips at 5:30pm in Phoenix and is on Fox Sports Arizona.

Bonus: Goran Dragic getting some praise:

Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic building confidence in leadership role
"I feel like his confidence is at another level," (Spurs coach) Budenholzer said of Dragic since becoming a starter midseason in Houston last year. "He really looks like he believes in himself and has control of the team. We feel like he’s the key. He’s surprisingly athletic in his length and his explosion. He uses some on the defense end also. He’s grown and matured over the years."

Mavs:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
O.J. Mayo 41 35.8 6.4 14.0 45.7 2.1 5.0 42.5 3.3 3.8 85.9 0.6 3.1 3.8 4.1 2.8 1.3 0.3 2.5 18.2
Dirk Nowitzki 14 29.1 5.1 12.4 41.0 1.1 3.1 37.2 2.7 3.5 77.6 0.6 4.9 5.5 2.2 1.3 0.4 0.5 1.4 14.0
Darren Collison 40 31.3 4.6 9.6 48.1 0.6 1.6 35.9 3.1 3.6 88.0 0.2 2.6 2.8 5.1 2.3 1.5 0.0 1.8 13.0
Chris Kaman 39 24.3 5.6 11.1 50.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 1.7 79.4 1.6 4.7 6.3 0.9 1.7 0.3 0.9 2.3 12.6
Vince Carter 41 24.8 4.2 10.1 41.8 1.8 4.9 36.8 2.0 2.4 81.8 0.6 3.4 4.0 1.9 1.2 0.9 0.6 2.8 12.3
Shawn Marion 34 29.8 4.4 9.2 48.2 0.3 0.9 32.3 1.2 1.4 83.3 2.2 5.9 8.1 2.6 1.6 0.8 0.6 1.7 10.4
Elton Brand 37 21.8 3.2 6.6 47.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 1.4 80.4 1.9 4.5 6.4 1.0 0.8 0.5 1.3 2.8 7.4
Brandan Wright 26 15.9 3.3 5.2 63.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.3 60.0 1.0 2.0 2.9 0.7 0.5 0.4 1.0 0.8 7.4
Jae Crowder 37 17.5 2.0 5.2 37.6 0.9 2.8 31.7 0.8 1.4 60.0 0.5 1.9 2.4 1.2 0.6 0.9 0.1 1.8 5.6
Dominique Jones 24 12.8 1.4 4.1 34.3 0.0 0.4 11.1 1.3 1.9 65.2 0.7 1.0 1.8 3.3 1.5 0.6 0.0 1.2 4.1
Dahntay Jones 41 13.6 1.0 3.0 35.5 0.2 0.8 24.2 1.3 1.7 78.3 0.3 1.2 1.5 0.5 0.4 0.2 0.1 1.6 3.6
Bernard James 21 10.9 1.3 2.7 49.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.1 66.7 1.3 2.0 3.3 0.0 0.4 0.2 0.9 1.1 3.4
Mike James 6 10.5 1.2 3.8 30.4 0.3 1.3 25.0 0.3 0.7 50.0 0.0 0.7 0.7 1.2 0.7 0.2 0.0 1.3 3.0
Rodrigue Beaubois 30 11.7 1.1 3.5 31.1 0.3 1.4 23.8 0.4 0.6 76.5 0.2 0.9 1.1 1.8 0.6 0.4 0.1 1.2 3.0
Jared Cunningham 8 3.1 0.8 1.8 42.9 0.3 0.4 66.7 0.3 0.3 100.0 0.1 0.3 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.4 2.0


20130124_mjr_su5_310
1. Goran Dragic

Weekly Average: 13 points, 10 assists, 2 rebounds in 33 minutes of play

Nobody had a better week for the Suns than Goran Dragic. Not only was his scoring up over the past few weeks, the most noticeable difference was his assists...averaging 10 per game for the week. This is the type of play Suns fans have been expecting from Goran on a more consistent basis.

2. Marcin Gortat

Weekly Average: 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 block in 33 minutes of play

Gortat had another very productive week for the Suns, and has become a very consistent player over the last couple of months. Marcin seemed like he was on a roller-coaster with his up-and-down play and production early in the season, but he seems to have found a nice balance and is giving the Suns quality play in the low post.

3. Michael Beasley

Weekly Average: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists in 23 minutes of play

Beasley gets the nod for most improved player this week, and did so well he not only jumped out of the bottom of the rankings, but leaped to a very strong third place overall. Nobody has seemed to benefit more from the change in coaching than Beasley, who has earned more minutes and been much more productive. Beasley has been a different player over the past couple of weeks, and is starting to finally live up to some of the expectations the team and fan base had for him when he was signed. But can he keep it up?

4. Luis Scola

Weekly Average: 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assist in 32 minutes of play

Scola is the most consistent player on the roster. I rarely have to change his stat line from week to week by more than one or two digits in each category. We all know what we can expect from Scola game after game...Solid play, veteran savvy, and one of the best ground games in the league.

5. Jared Dudley

Weekly Average: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists in 27 minutes of play

Dudley came back to Earth a little bit this week after stringing together a long list of impressive games. Dudley had his best game against the Spurs last night scoring 23 points, grabbing 5 boards, and dishing 5 assists. But he only scored 3 points against the Clippers and only 8 against the Kings which brought down his totals for the week.

6. Markieff Morris

Weekly Average: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist in 24 minutes of play

Morris continues to improve each and every week, and is quietly becoming one of the best all-around big men on the team. He is developing some very nice offensive moves to complement his rebounding and defense, and is earning more minutes in the process.

7. P.J. Tucker

Weekly Average: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists in 30 minutes of play

Tucker's minutes increased quite a bit this week but his overall production went up only marginally. As always, you can't really judge Tucker's impact by the stats alone, and his defensive contributions are what keeps him on the floor. Still, with 30 minutes of playing time, I would like to see a little more production.

8. Shannon Brown

Weekly Average: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist in 20 minutes of play

Brown capped off a bad week with a flagrant-2 ejection last night vs. the Spurs. Shannon's minutes have been on the decline over the last three games, and you wonder if Hunter's style of coaching and his focus on defense is a part of that. We'll see if Brown can bounce back this week.

9. Sebastian Telfair

Weekly Average: 4 points, 3 assists in 15 minutes of play

Telfair has kept his job as the back-up point guard thus far, but for how much longer? Speculation over Hunter's plans to play Kendall Marshall more have so far been wrong, but with Telfair doing little to keep his job as the number two, you have to wonder if Marshall will get his shot soon.

10. Wesley Johnson

Weekly Average: 0 points, 2 rebounds in 7 minutes of play

Jermaine O'Neal didn't play at all this week, and the only other player that even registered a stat was Wesley Johnson who played a grand total of 7 minutes against the Kings and grabbed two rebounds during his time on the floor. Johnson gets the last spot by default not because of bad play, but based on his impact for the Suns this week, which by little fault of his own wasn't much at all.

So there you have it...Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below!

Mavericks 110, Suns 95 TV: FSNA My how the mighty have fallen. Unlike Saturday night’s contest against the San Antonio Spurs, the Phoenix Suns’ final stop on their Texas two-step down...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
20120718_lbm_aj4_286

When Lindsey Hunter took over the 13-28 last-in-the-West Phoenix Suns last week, the Suns management team of owner Robert Sarver, prez Lon Babby and GM Lance Blanks spoke of player development being a primary focus of Lindsey's over wins and losses.

Pressed by media for more details on which players to develop, Lon Babby said that player development should come from all players on the roster - veterans and young guys alike.

Those words did not resonate with fans or media.

Fans and media expected "player development" to mean playing time for younger guys who hadn't had much burn. They expected a revamped lineup and rotations that would, in effect, sacrifice wins in favor of unearthing potential for next season.

They expected fewer minutes for guys who had already reached their basketball peak, like Jermaine O'Neal (34), Sebastian Telfair (29) and Luis Scola (32).

They expected more minutes for young guys like Wesley Johnson (25), Michael Beasley (23), Diante Garrett (24), Luke Zeller (24), Markieff Morris (23) and Kendall Marshall (21).

But in three games under Hunter, we have seen the same starting lineup and mostly the same substitution patterns that Alvin Gentry had employed.

Hunter did play Wesley Johnson 7 minutes and Luke Zeller for 2 minutes in his first game at the helm. But in the last 10 quarters, he's played the same 9-man rotation of veterans (sans injured Jermaine O'Neal) we have seen all season. No Kendall Marshall. No Diante Garrett.

Michael Beasley has emerged with 22 solid minutes per game after not getting as many as 22 minutes in 14 of the previous 16 games (before that, Beasley got 22+ in nearly all of the first 30 games).

Markieff Morris has gotten 20, 24 and 25 minutes per game after not getting as many as 24 in 17 of the previous 18 games (like Beasley, Morris used to get these kind of solid minutes earlier in the season before losing minutes recently).

But otherwise, the distribution of minutes have been just like his predecessor while the team has played inspired ball.

What Hunter has actually delivered is a team that executes crisper sets on both offense and defense, along with a consistent level of competitive effort from the guys, resulting in a somewhat exhilarating 2-1 record.

Or, exactly what Suns management wanted to see from day one this season. If the Suns continue to play at this level for the rest of the season, it's conceivable they could win more games than they lose.

The problem is that there are no second-half trophies in the NBA. Hunter was saddled with a 13-28 record that won't go away.

There will be no playoffs this season. The Suns would have to go 31-10 just to match the current projections for Houston and Utah. This team is not built to go 31-10, let alone overtake those teams.

Giving Hunter a winning second half record (say, 22-20) gets you just 35 wins and a pick in the 10-12 range. After consecutive seasons of the #13 pick, we all know there is a limited upside to a pick in that range.

So why win games now? Why make the effort to prove this roster CAN win a few more than they lose, when at this point it only reduces next season's chances for dramatic improvement by worsening the June draft pick?

The Suns need a high draft pick on this roster (not counting Beasley and Johnson) - someone who can carry this team going forward. A winning second-half record won't help in that regard.

The Suns need to spend the rest of this season evaluating their talent rather than playing the rotation most likely to win. Beasley and Morris are getting their burn, and their minutes may well expand further if they continue to play well. Wesley Johnson is an expiring contract that likely won't return in a prominent role no matter how much run he gets. Same with Luke Zeller.

But there are two other guys who deserve time as soon as possible.

The Suns front office needs to make room for rookie first-round pick Kendall Marshall and the surprising rookie combo guard Diante Garrett (15.1 points, 7.4 assists, 62% 3-pt shooting in D-League) in the rotation.

They have a long-term answer at point guard in Goran Dragic, but they need to know if his 2013-14 backup is already under contract.

To do that, you have find the available minutes. It does the Suns no long-term good to have Sebastian Telfair playing the backup point guard minutes ahead of Marshall and Garrett.

Removing Telfair from the equation without reducing Dragic's role gets you 14-16 minutes a night. Marshall and Garrett need more than that.

To that end, in order to play Garrett and/or Dragic at shooting guard for spot minutes while Marshall plays the point, a logjam needs to be cleared at shooting guard as well. Right now, P.J. Tucker (27), Shannon Brown (27) and Jared Dudley (27) get all those minutes, and they deserve them because they are the best players at that position on the current roster.

The Suns cannot get a proper gauge on Marshall or Garrett unless at least two of Tucker, Telfair, Dudley and Brown lose minutes. But that's not going to come from simple benching. All three of these guys play hard, and when you're in the throes of the game and you want to win, those three give you the best chance.

The only way to reduce their minutes is to remove two of them from the current roster via trade or release (or injury).

President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby certainly knows this. You can't just bench Tucker, Dudley, Brown or Telfair without hurting the morale of the team. Dudley is the best of the three, is under a good long-term contract, and wants to be part of the solution. Tucker has a partial guarantee on next season and is far outplaying his contract. The other two are (effectively) expiring contracts. But none are untouchable.

Lon Babby has to clear up the logjam at the guard position to give his younger players a chance to prove themselves.

The best option, of course, is a trade or two or three to bring back future assets. Dudley would get the most booty, while Telfair and Brown might add up to a couple second-rounders or could be salary-filler on a bigger acquisition.

If there's no trade to be had by the February 21 deadline, the Suns could release either or both of Brown and Telfair so they can sign with contenders.

Otherwise, the Suns waste an opportunity to see what Marshall and Garrett truly have to offer.

20121208_ajw_sr6_080

Although it is still way too early to know for sure when the Phoenix Suns will be picking or even what their needs will be by the time of the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27th, it's never too early to take a look at some of the players who could be realistic options at that time.

At the moment, there are several players slated to be lottery picks who the Suns could have interest in: Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, Cody Zeller, Alex Poythress, and the list goes on. However, ESPN's Chad Ford recently wrote that out of all the players likely to declare for the coming draft, Ben McLemore could be the best fit for the Suns (ESPN Insider account required to read).

So who is Ben McLemore and what impact could he have for Phoenix? Let's take a closer look.

Ben McLemore, SG, University of Kansas

Height: 6'4

Weight: 181

Age: 19

Wingspan: 6'7"


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2012 - Ben McLemore 16 30.8 5.5 10.9 50.3 1.9 4.3 43.5 3.6 4.1 87.7 1.4 4.0 5.4 2.1 1.8 1.3 0.9 1.8 16.4


Strengths:
  • Athleticism - McLemore is one of the most athletically gifted players in college basketball. He is very fast, quick, and has great leaping ability.
  • Shooting - Not only can McLemore run the floor and dunk with the best of them, he has a great stroke and shoots a high percentage from everywhere on the court.
  • Scoring in Transition - McLemore has shown the ability to run the floor very well, and excels in getting to the rim and scoring on fast breaks and in an up-tempo style of play.
  • Defense - While McLemore is still refining this area of his game, he already shows great potential as a defender with nice lateral quickness and agility.
  • Passing - Although he's not the strongest ball-handler (although I don't think he's bad by any means), he's shown a very nice ability to see the floor and make difficult passes to open teammates. He's also very unselfish with the ball and rarely forces bad shots.
Weaknesses:
  • Creating His Own Shot - McLemore hasn't shown the ability to consistently create his own shot. He is much better as a spot-up shooter or scoring off the pass.
  • Agressiveness? - McLemore isn't afraid to take shots or get to the rim, but he does have the tendency to play a little passively at times rather than taking the game over the way someone with his offensive talent can. I don't personally think this is a big issue at all, but it has at least been mentioned by other analysts.

Conclusion:

I think Ben McLemore would be a great fit for the Phoenix Suns. McLemore is a special talent who is likely to go very early in the up-coming draft. The Suns could definitely use his athleticism and shooting ability of offense, and help him continue to develop his awareness and understanding of the game to maximize his defensive talents as well.

Personally, I think McLemore is the best wing in college basketball right now, even over the much ballyhooed Shabazz Muhammad (though that is certainly subject to change as the college season progresses). Not only that, but I think his style of play fits the Suns better than Shabazz who is not as athletic, fast, or as accurate as a jump shooter.

Of course, there's still plenty of time to continue evaluating all of the players who will likely be within the Suns' reach on draft day, and there will certainly be risers and fallers as well. However, at the moment, McLemore seems to possess many of the skills that the Suns are in need of, and I wouldn't be surprised if he is one of the names they have high on their list when that day comes.


Poll
Is Ben McLemore the right player for the Phoenix Suns?

  249 votes | Results

Page 1202 of 2082

1202

Web Links

Sponsored Ads