This is the 7th installment of the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns player report cards. We're using the old-school A-F system for continuity’s sake. Today the spotlight’s on Channing Frye.

For a Phoenix fan, Frye’s addition to the team in July last year was a very attractive prospect. Having attended St. Mary’s high school in the valley and then rocking his way to the NBA through the University of Arizona, Frye flew to Phoenix out of Portland as fast as he could and we welcomed him with open arms. Now we’re facing the possibility of his departure. It’s been one hell of a season for our 6’11" Forward-Center.

His first and maybe even last season with the Suns, summed up by the most important people in the basketball universe (the Bright Side readers), produces Frye’s final grade for the 2009-10 season.

Wil Cantrell had a chance to sit down for a Q&A session with Ben from Blazer’s Edge just after Frye signed with the Suns. This helped us get an idea of what we could expect from Frye in the upcoming season. Most fans had mixed feelings about how he’d contribute to the team, but the general consensus was that of the "wait and see" variety. The season started average enough. Frye’s first game (preseason, Warriors) saw him manufacture the first six points on back-to-back triples with some long twos peppered in later in the half. Frye proved at once that all the summer talk about him being a floor-spacing jump shooter at the center spot was more than just talk, and we were excited to see what he’d bring to the table when the big guys started coming to dinner. After a great game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Suns 3-0 lead at the start of the season), Frye said:

"It's early in the season so we will see how defenses start to play me. I think a lot of teams weren't going to play me as a shooter I thought I was, but now I'm kind of establishing that. I just need to continue working on my game and stay humble."

Maybe others thought they could push him around in the beginning, but we saw Frye’s defensive efforts essentially evolve before our eyes after Gentry put more pressure on him to rebound and defend. The pressure eventually led to his relegation to the bench, and as the defensive efforts stepped up, so did Frye’s feistiness.  Remember the Pacers game with the ejection? Things got heated with 46.7 seconds remaining in the third period when the Pacers' Earl Watson (read: punk-ass baby) appeared to push Frye. Danny Granger then took a swipe at Frye, who swung back. Roy Hibbert and Jason Richardson also joined the altercation. Technicals ensued. For more on Frye’s evolution, check out this practice report when Frye says:

 "I started out my career looking at the 17 footer, then it was the 3, now I'm kind of a hybrid. I'm just trying to slow down and play with confidence, which is tough sometimes since I'm a perfectionist."

Oh, and for those of you who like numbers and since we’re getting close to the grade:

Regular Season Stats:

GP: 81 GS: 41 MPG: 27.0 FG%: .451 3P%: .439

FT%: .810 RPG: 5.3 APG: 1.4 SPG: .8 BPG: .9 PPG: 11.2

Playoff Stats:

GP: 16 GS: 0 MPG: 27.2 FG%: .364 3P%: .349

FT%: .938 RPG: 5.6 APG: .9 SPG: .8 BPG: .6 PPG: 8.2

In Game 6 of the Lakers series, Frye had 13 rebounds and added 12 points off the bench. I personally breathed a sigh of relief. I would even go as far as to say it was his personal best game of the season, all things considered. I felt like he deserved a little detention or maybe some Saturday school after a few of those playoff games. That being said, although I’m a pretty firm believer in building a players’ confidence up as much as possible, I just can’t fake an A on Channing Frye. His playoff performance in the Lakers series tipped the scales. If he stays with us and completes some more of those extra credit assignments I mentioned before, his grade next season should shoot up to A status. ‘Til then…

Final Grade: B

Poll
What Grade Would You Give Channing Frye for the 2009-10 Season

  758 votes | Results


When the Phoenix Suns drafted Gani Lawal with the 46th overall pick in the second round they knew they were getting a big, physical, athletic power forward who can run the floor and rebound but has a...

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Interview with Gani Lawal and Dwayne Collins

I talked to both picks this morning and wrote it up over at SBN AZ. Both guys are solid. Going to be fun watching them develop.


onsider this a kind of mash-up post.

First you will find a great Q&A - the "A's" are far better than the "Q's" - with Bird GT from SBN's Georgia Tech blog From the Rumble Seat answering questions about Gani Lawal and then you will find a bunch of links to a bunch of people you don't care about saying how great/horrible the Suns did in the draft.

The download on Gani Lawal:

1) Are you surprised that Lawal dropped to the 46th pick? He was projected higher, any thoughts on why he fell?

Georgia Tech fans are not surprised that Gani was picked at 46. Based on all of the news outlets and pre-Draft hype, we expected him to be a second round pick. I think it's generally understood that NBA teams can have completely different Draft boards for the 2nd round allowing players to drop past where they're expected to be drafted.

The only reason we'd guess he dropped was due to an apparent lack of progression in college. Maybe NBA teams felt he had reached his talent ceiling as there wasn't a jump in any of his major statistical categories. Worse of all, his FG% dropped from sophomore to junior seasons as he was asked to take more midrange jumpers.

2) How did Lawal fit on the floor with Favors and how did he look compared to the #3 overall pick?

Lawal and Favors exchanged double doubles night after night in college, but it was obvious there wasn't great cohesion when both were on the floor together. As individuals, they wreaked havoc and created match up problems for every team we faced. When playing together on the floor, it was like watching two cooks waiting to use the same stove. They were obviously uncomfortable with one another's presence and there was a general disjointedness when our offense had two PF's on the floor at the same time.

For comparison's sake, both players appeared to be on par with one another. It's really hard to judge two players when you only had 36 games to watch them play together. In short, Gani has a refined low post presence. He has a lot of really good moves in the paint and is very difficult to defend unless you hack him (an effective strategy since he's a bad FT shooter). Derrick was raw. He was called for traveling frequently and never really got a good feel of the college game despite statistics that would say otherwise. If I had to describe them both in one word, I'd say Gani was "hustle" and Derrick was "explosive". A combination of the players would've been a #1 Draft pick.

3) The Suns also drafted Dwayne Collins. Any thoughts on him and how he and Gani matched up?

Tech fans have seen Dwayne Collins play against Tech 5 times. Miami beat Tech 4 of those 5 times. The Hurricanes are the proverbial fly in our soup. Against Tech, Collins averaged 22 minutes played, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.8 points per game. He was a fairly big part of Miami hoops the past four seasons and was critical in Miami dominance of Tech during his college career. When Gani played Miami, he racked up some pretty impressive stats, however, as he averaged a double-double. Gani (against Miami) averaged 23 minutes played, 10 rebounds, and 11 points per game in only three games played. 

Unfortunately for number crunchers and fans of the NBA, these numbers aren't great as they span 4 years and really don't reflect an accurate side-by-side comparison of the two guys. So I pulled together more in depth stats of every NBA Draftee Tech has faced in the Lawal-Favors Era to see how we've fared, particularly against guards and forwards. The only defense I have of our forwards' apparent lack of defense is that Paul Hewitt runs a frantic full court press that runs afoul most college guards yet leaves our forwards exposed in the open court.

4) Any other thoughts you might want to share about Gani.

I told this to Raptors HQ a few months back, but basically I think the biggest thing NBA teams should be looking at when drafting Gani is his work ethic. His free throw percentage and rebounding efficiency have gone up year-year in college. He is obviously working his butt off in the gym and in his free time (which there isn't much of for student athletes at Georgia Tech). Hewitt doesn't practice free throws at practice, so Gani's improvement in this department shows a dedication to the game that is an unknown quantity with many draft picks. Also, check out these stats regarding more comparison of Gani and Derrick regarding their relative importance to Tech's winning/losing efforts.

Thanks for the chance to work with you guys again. We love the work y'all do (eye patch with Jared Dudley was classic).

 

Thanks again to From the Rumble Seat for the great answers.

 

And now those links:

NBA Draft: PBT's post of picks, starting off on the Wall - ProBasketballTalk - Basketball - NBC Sports
46. Phoenix -- Gani Lawal, forward (Georgia Tech): It's hard to look that good next to Derrick Favors, especially when your games are similar but he is better at it. Good news: Lawal suffered in the post due to poor guard play at Georgia Tech. Not a problem in Phoenix.

60. Phoenix - Dwayne Collins, forward (Miami): One of the better athletes in the draft and a guy you could see finding his way into that Suns bench mob. Maybe.

2010 NBA Draft Grades -- NBA FanHouse
Phoenix Suns: The Suns grabbed Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal in the second round, and he should be a rotation player if Louis Amundson and/or Channing Frye move on. Phoenix also took Dwayne Collins out of Miami with the last pick in the second round. He has the same chance of making the Suns as Taylor Griffin did last year. Which is to say no chance at all. Lawal might be the best second-round pick of all. Final Grade: A-.

2010 NBA draft results: Draft grades - ESPN (Insider)
PHOENIX SUNS GRADE: C  Analysis: With Amare Stoudemire about to test the free-agent waters, the Suns attempted to shore up their front line with two tough, athletic rebounders. Neither Lawal nor Collins is great on the offensive end, but they'll add toughness for Phoenix in the paint.

2010 NBA Draft Team Grades - Chris Mannix - SI.com
B. Phoenix Suns One of Steve Kerr's last acts as Suns GM could be a good one. Gani Lawal didn't get a lot of press at Georgia Tech playing next to acclaimed freshman Derrick Favors, but he has excellent hands and what some scouts believe to be a burgeoning post game. If he develops, he could be a real steal in the second round. Dwayne Collins was a decent athlete at Miami but don't expect him to get much further than training camp.

2010 NBA Draft: Second-round grades - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball
No. 46: Suns select: Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech Grade Analysis: On numbers alone (he outrebounded teammate -- and No. 3 overall pick -- Derrick Favors), he should have gone a lot higher. Grade A

No. 60: Suns select: Dwayne Collins, PF, Miami Grade Analysis: At the stroke of midnight, the Suns select ... hey, a much better player than the No. 60 position would indicate. Grade B.

Handing out grades for the 2010 NBA draft - NBA News - FOX Sports on MSN
Phoenix Suns: A-minus Picks: Gani Lawal (46), Dwayne Collins (60) Both power forwards were great value picks with no risk as second-rounders. Either one of these ACC products could crack the Suns' rotation this season potentially, and both will help on the boards, which fills a big need. No one should have any complaints, seeing as this team doesn't even have a general manager right now.

NBA draft report card: How each team fared - NBA- nbcsports.msnbc.com
Phoenix They gained a couple meaningless late rounders. Meaningless because all that really matters is keeping Amare Stoudemire. Grade: C

Grading the NBA Draft - Ball Don't Lie - NBA  - Yahoo! Sports
Grade - C Phoenix Suns: Gani Lawal(notes), Dwayne Collins(notes) None of these men will factor into your lives much.

 

And this has nothing to do with the draft but is a great read...and very sad (for our old friends, Blazers fans)

Apocalypse Now: The Kevin Pritchard Era Ends In Portland - Blazersedge
As the clock passed 4PM at the Portland Trail Blazers practice facility in Tualatin, the media room was bored. Expectations had plunged, a long night was ahead and a mountain of unfulfilled trade rumors bred a lot of skepticism. Plates of food were gulped down, newspapers pages were turned impatiently.

And then the news hit -- news that was expected, perhaps even within the next few days, but not now. Not now. Kevin Pritchard had been fired. But, incredibly, he would still run the evening's draft. Had this ever happened before? This can't possibly have happened before.


By the end of draft day last year, the Suns’ offseason plan was in full bloom. They had dumped Shaq, picked Earl Clark in the lottery, saw their best chance to trade Amare fall apart and knew...

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