PHOENIX — Pretty soon it’s going to start feeling like Groundhog’s Day for Josh Childress. For the second straight season, J-Chill entered training camp with the expectation of being a rotation...

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Did you underestimate my performance last season?

Here at Bright Side of the Sun we take the words TOTAL COVERAGE pretty dang seriously.

While our beloved Suns are off taking nice vacations, we are still slaving away, attempting to provide you all with first class Suns coverage.

So friends, without further adieu, we present you with the Phoenix Suns Season in Review, 2011-12.

Up for discussion today is Marcin Gortat.

We've reached the end of our player analysis for this past season, and what better way to cap off these reviews then with one of the more hotly debated players on the roster?

Some believe Marcin Gortat is an all-star center in the making and should be a cornerstone of this team going forward, others believe he is nothing more than a glorified role player whose stats are grossly inflated due to playing with Steve Nash.

Will we finally get to the bottom of this argument once and for all? Probably not...but hey, continue on after the jump anyway as I attempt to shed a little light on the enigma that is the Polish Machine.

When Marcin Gortat was still on the Orlando Magic playing behind Dwight Howard, most analysts considered him the best back-up center in the league. Gortat rarely got much of a chance to display his skills though because he was playing behind arguably the best starting center in the league as well.

However, after a disappointing start to the 2010-11 season for Robin Lopez, the Suns jumped at the opportunity to acquire Gortat in a deal that sent Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Earl Clark to Orlando in return for Vince Carter's expiring body contract, Mikael Pietrus, and of course the Polish Machine himself.

But because Gortat had received so little playing time in the spotlight prior to this trade, there were still quite a few relative unknowns about his game. Many Suns' fans expected a hard-nosed, physical center on both offense and defense...after-all, his name was the Polish Hammer, right?

Well as it turned out, not only were most of those preconceived notions about his game wrong, so was his nickname (he prefers the Polish Machine, not the Polish Hammer).

While Gortat is regarded as a tough defensive player, his offensive game turned out to be much more finesse than powerful. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

Many fans and analysts were shocked by his incredible agility and quickness around the hoop, and while he didn't dunk the ball as much as many fans hoped, he surpassed most expectations about his ability, and quickly became of of the most important components of the Suns' offense.

At the start of the 2011-12 season, the expectations for Gortat's production were high. And at least for the first half of the season, he not only met those expectations, but exceeded them as well.

Then came the second half of the season...

While the rest of the team was finally playing well together, Gortat seemed to regress. The player so many fans considered an all-star snub was suddenly being criticized from every angle.

But was he really playing as badly as it seemed?

Here is a comparison of Gortat's stats before and after the all-star break:

All-Star Pre 34 34 1142 230 410 0 0 80 119 90 355 33 26 53 51 73 540 .561 .672 33.6 15.9 10.4 1.0
Post 32 32 972 197 359 0 2 83 132 95 304 26 22 46 39 69 477 .549 .000 .629 30.4 14.9 9.5 0.8

The reason I wanted to show these stats in comparison to each other is that, in all honesty, I expected a bigger disparity between I'm sure most of you who are reading this did as well.

While his first-half numbers are certainly better in every category, the drop off in production for the second half of the season doesn't seem nearly as drastic as our eyes may have perceived. Without going through each category, what it all boiled down to is basically one less point, and one less rebound per game.

So why did it seem like Gortat was so much less effective in the second half of the season?

I think it has more to do with perception than actual performance.

His play before the all-star break stood out more in a positive way since he and Steve Nash were basically the only two consistent players on the team. Similarly, since the rest of the team finally started playing well at the same time that Gortat's play began to decline, I believe it magnified his struggles and made them seem worse than they actually were.

Here are his overall basic stats for his last two seasons in Phoenix:

Here are his advanced stats for the last two seasons as well:

Looking at the above numbers, you can see that Gortat had a better overall season last year than he did in his first partial season with the Suns.

His rebounding average was more or less the same while his points per game, defensive rating, and PER were significantly better. In fact, he led the team in all of those categories plus blocks and field goal percentage as well. Not to mention, he was also the only player to play in all 66 games last season and also led the team in minutes played.

Here are his stats compared to the rest of the team:

If I were grading Gortat compared to other centers in the league I would give him a B+, but since I am grading him based on his play for the Suns and his importance to this team, I am going to give him a solid A for last season. I would grade his first half performance as an "A", and his second half performance as an "A-" because of his slight drop off in the second half of the season, which I believe was mostly due to being worn down and tired over playing so many minutes in such a compressed and intense season. But all-in-all, Gortat had an excellent year.

I believe his play last season was was much better than many fans and analysts think, and I believe he was instrumental in not only helping to carry this team in the first half of the season, but also to the impressive yet ultimately ill-fated playoff push the Suns made in the second half of the season--which many fans simply don't give him enough credit for.

*All statistics used were provided by

How would you grade Marcin Gortat's performance last season?

  251 votes | Results

Is Gordon the best available SG?

As we anticipate the free agent frenzy that engulfs the lives of players, front offices and fans throughout the NBA, we fall in love with player A or player B on another team while discounting the guy we saw play nearly every minute of the prior season.

We look at player A and say "I just love ____ part of player A's game! If this guy just gets better at ______, he could be awesome with the Suns!" We all assume that player A will fit in perfectly with the Suns, and that he will be just as interested in improving ______ as we are.

The Suns need more scoring and playmaking from the perimeter. Even Steve Nash, at the end of the season in context of what needs to improve for him to return next season, mentioned the real need for playmakers. He understands that the Suns offense stagnates when he is resting or playing off the ball or being trapped and forced to give the ball up to the mismatch.

With Shannon Brown a unrestricted free agent and Jared Dudley truly being more of a swingman than a pure shooting guard, the Suns have an obvious opening or two at the shooting guard spot.

One early ranking of overall free agents mentions nearly a dozen shooting guards, but only a few match the Suns' desire for youth and "value", having no intention to overpay a free agent this summer if at all possible. To fit the criteria of young prospects, all of these guys are restricted free agents who have yet to reach their prime years.

Some rules I followed, to determine the 5 potential signings here:

  • I looked only at the one ranking of free agents, so if I missed anyone it was an oversight due to lack of effort on my part and all blame should be foisted on me as a result.
  • I have purposely focused only on the shooting guard prospects in this article, since the Suns simply have to sign someone to share 48 minutes with Jared Dudley.
  • I have ignored older players, such as Vince Carter, Mo Williams and (not listed because he hasn't opted out yet) Jamal Crawford
As you'll see, the pickings are slim at shooting guard this summer. Much more plentiful are point guards, small forwards and bigs, though most of the best of those are RFAs as well. All numbers are from the 2011-12 season except for Eric Gordon's due to his injury.


Click on the pic to make it bigger, or click on this link to the page on

In looking through the prospective free agents this summer, I found 5 potential signings and compared them to the Suns' Jared Dudley.

I included Dudley here for reference because (a) the new player would ideally be a better player than Dudley or the Suns are just treading water and (b) because Dudley makes $4.25 million per season for the next 3 years.

Certainly, Eric Gordon will and SHOULD make more than Dudley. He is a better scorer and better passer, though not a better shooter or rebounder. But simply, Gordon can create and make his own shots, and he is 3 years younger than Dudley.

But what about the others?

George Hill is a better passer than Dudley, a better defender and at least as good a shooter, but he is small (6'2") and is a better fit as a combo guard coming off the bench. Hill is a winner - an efficient scorer and defender - but is he any better than the role players the Suns already have? Hill is, at best, a 5th- to 8th-best player on a contending team. The Suns boast 5 of those already.

Courtney Lee profiles similarly to George Hill. He can shoot and defend, but is a bit undersized. His ceiling, as well, appears to be a 5th- to 8th-best player on a contender.

O.J. Mayo? He numbers look awfully pedestrian is this context of being compared to peers. He is a scorer and can pass pretty well, but is not a good shooter or defender. He is still young though, so his potential may still be tapped by a team willing to give him the minutes. The talent is there, but is the drive?

Which brings us back to Shannon Brown.

Brown wants to return and has already finished his half-season adjustment to a new team and a new offense. He knows the Suns, the staff, the defensive and offensive schemes and, especially, his role. His second half was of high quality, and given the options out there that fit the Suns' criteria he just might be the best one.

If they can get Eric Gordon this summer, that's great. He's young and talented and worth a whole lot of money.

But if Gordon is gone, there is no need to overpay for the next best option. One of Brown, Mayo, Lee or Hill will come reasonably this summer and will provide roughly the same value that Brown gave us this past season.

The Suns can then spend their money on a PF (Brook Lopez?) or SF (Nic Batum). Or just wait until 2013 to break the bank.

Hakim Warrick plays his usual lockdown defense.

Here at Bright Side of the Sun we take the words TOTAL COVERAGE pretty dang seriously.

While our beloved Suns are off taking nice vacations, we are still slaving away, attempting to provide you all with first class Suns coverage.

So friends, without further adieu, we present you with the Phoenix Suns Season in Review, 2011-12.

Up for discussion today is Hakim Warrick.

Hakim Warrick was in a heated battle this season. Not a heated battle for playing time, a heated battle to win the inaugural Taylor Griffin Least Valuable Player Award. As part of this spellbinding analysis I will ask you to not only consider what grade you would give Warrick for the season, but also whether he was actually the least valuable player on the team.

He had some stiff competition. I think you all know who I’m talking about.

The report card I’m about to hand out won’t be pretty. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the "No Sun Left Behind" ideal. There appears to be one thing that Warrick excels at (dunking) and very little else that he does at an even average level. There were fugacious moments where Warrick did make contributions, but they were few and far between.

As a very clever person put it, Warrick is like a $1 scratcher lottery ticket. You’re not investing much, and you don’t expect much in return. Every once in a while you win $5 and are pleasantly surprised, but the next 9 times you scratch it off and get nothing (or at best your dollar back).

If you’re feeling lucky, scratch ahead and keep your fingers crossed.

Here are Warrick’s numbers as a Sun.

2010-11 28 PHO NBA 80 6 17.7 2.9 5.6 .511 0.0 0.1 .091 2.7 3.7 .721 1.1 2.6 3.7 0.9 0.4 0.1 1.0 1.3 8.4
2011-12 29 PHO NBA 35 0 14.4 2.1 5.1 .411 0.0 0.3 .100 2.2 2.8 .768 0.9 1.7 2.6 0.9 0.2 0.1 1.0 1.0 6.4
Career NBA 498 94 20.4 3.4 7.0 .494 0.0 0.2 .196 2.6 3.6 .728 1.3 2.7 4.1 0.8 0.4 0.3 1.2 1.9 9.5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/17/2012.

There is a pretty conspicuous decline here. His points, rebounds, and minutes per game were the lowest since his rookie season. Field goal percentage – career low (and a drop of 10%!). Advanced numbers reveal the same conclusion. This was Hakim Warrick’s worst year statistically since his rookie season. Considering that was his rookie season this may very well have been his worst year as a pro.

What I think is a telling stat is that Warrick’s career ORtg/DRtg are 109/110, but this year they were 100/109. Warrick still played the consistently poor defense that has plagued him his whole career, but this year failed to provide an offensive spark to offset this deficiency.

Now let’s look at something else that is rather condemning:








+/- /MIN


S. Nash







C. Frye







G. Hill







M. Gortat







J. Dudley







R. Price







R. Lopez







J. Childress







M. Morris







S. Brown







M. Redd







H. Warrick







S. Telfair







Table Courtesy of

As depicted, Warrick was second to worst in +/-. Steve Nash (big surprise) was #1. However, by manipulating the numbers to militate the interpretation and using an adjusted +/- per minutes played, Warrick ranks dead last at -1 point per 3.99 minutes played. With Nash at +1 point per 11.08 minutes played, if Warrick played 12 minutes in a game it would basically take Nash 33 minutes to undo the damage he caused. Surprisingly (or not), Channing Frye ranks #1 on the team in +/- per minutes played at +1 point per 10 minutes played.

Warrick narrowly edged out Josh Childress to avoid having the least number of games played this season. In fact, the three Suns at the end of the bench appeared in 34 (Childress), 35 (Warrick), and 36 (Price – who actually started 8) respectively. All three of these players showed flickers of promise, but all three failed to earn regular playing time and found themselves completely out of the rotation for stretches of the season.

Warrick was thrust back into a larger role again at the end of the season after a devastating injury to Channing Frye left the Suns scrambling for frontcourt help. Warrick actually played more minutes in the last 3 games (66) than he had in the previous 21 (62). To his credit, Warrick appeared ready to play and there were even brief glimpses where it appeared he was helping the team, but those were ephemeral, and Warrick the defensive sieve rematerialized as he did throughout the season.

After playing in 80 of 82 games during the 2010-11 season, it seems that Warrick has fallen out of favor/played himself out of a position and that two years into his contract this experiment appears to be an utter failure. I find it highly improbable that Warrick will find himself in a consistent role where he’s helping the team and contributing next season.

The Suns should attempt to move Warrick, if possible, even if for nothing more than the sake of opening up a roster spot for somebody who might be able to contribute more next season.

I give Warrick a D- for his lack of performance.

What do you think Brightsiders? Who was the least productive Sun this year and what grade do you give Hakim Warrick? Place your vote in the poll and leave your grade in the comments below.


This will be presented to the the Taylor Griffin LVP award winner.

Place your vote for the inaugural Taylor Griffin Least Valuable Player Award. (Even the last Sun on the bench has an opportunity to be a winner)

  98 votes | Results

Price worked hard on defense and provided a positive locker room presence.

Here at Bright Side of the Sun we take the words TOTAL COVERAGE pretty dang seriously.

While our beloved Suns are off taking nice vacations, we are still slaving away, attempting to provide you all with first class Suns coverage.

So friends, without further adieu, we present you with the Phoenix Suns Season in Review, 2011-12.

Up for discussion today is Ronnie Price.

How does one evaluate a third team point guard who earned the minimum salary, scored the second fewest points on the team and was the team's worst player by a boatload of other measures?

Ronnie Price was the least productive member of the Phoenix Suns this season, but that was expected given the road he's taken to the NBA. Price was offered no scholarships coming out of high school in Friendswood, Texas before playing at Nicholls State University and then Utah Valley State College.

The undersized underdog went undrafted by the NBA when he finished his college career, yet latched on with the Sacramento Kings, and then the Utah Jazz. He landed on the Suns this past December to replace Zabian Dowdell.

Price just concluded his seventh season playing with the best players in the world in the NBA; he's come this far on hard work and smarts. And while he may not have contributed much to the Suns on the court, he was another example of a positive locker room presence on a team full of them. For that, he deserves our respect. As for his performance on the court this season, on.

It doesn't require much stat crunching to see that Price was an ineffective player, as his FG and 3-point %s were even lower than his career averages, and his career averages left him as a player for the Suns to pick up before the season as an insurance policy at the league minimum salary.

2005-06 22 SAC NBA 29 0 5.2 0.7 2.0 .362 0.2 0.9 .222 0.4 0.4 1.000 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.3 2.1
2006-07 23 SAC NBA 58 1 9.7 1.2 3.0 .390 0.4 1.1 .323 0.6 0.9 .673 0.3 1.0 1.2 0.8 0.5 0.1 0.6 1.1 3.3
2007-08 24 UTA NBA 61 3 9.6 1.4 3.3 .431 0.4 1.2 .347 0.4 0.6 .684 0.1 0.6 0.8 1.3 0.5 0.0 0.5 1.4 3.7
2008-09 25 UTA NBA 52 17 14.2 1.5 3.9 .379 0.4 1.2 .311 0.7 0.9 .756 0.2 1.1 1.3 2.1 0.8 0.1 1.2 1.4 4.0
2009-10 26 UTA NBA 60 4 13.4 1.6 4.0 .405 0.3 1.1 .286 0.7 1.0 .695 0.5 0.8 1.2 2.1 0.7 0.2 0.9 1.8 4.3
2010-11 27 UTA NBA 59 0 12.2 1.3 3.6 .352 0.3 1.2 .290 0.5 0.7 .744 0.4 0.7 1.0 0.9 0.7 0.1 0.9 1.8 3.3
2011-12 28 PHO NBA 36 8 14.4 1.4 3.6 .377 0.4 1.2 .295 0.6 0.7 .800 0.5 1.1 1.6 1.9 0.9 0.1 1.3 2.0 3.6
Career NBA 355 33 11.5 1.3 3.4 .389 0.3 1.1 .304 0.6 0.8 .729 0.3 0.8 1.1 1.4 0.6 0.1 0.8 1.5 3.6
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/17/2012.

Still, Price beat out Sebastian Telfair for the job as Steve Nash's primary backup to start the season and even worked his way into the starting lineup for eight games. Remember that? Yeah, it really happened. The Suns went 2-6 with Price as a starter, he did little to distinguish himself, and generally only played in garbage time after the all-star break as the emergence of Telfair relegated him to the end of the bench.

A selfish player might have begrudged Telfair his success. After all, it did cost Price the opportunity for playing time and Price is a fringe NBA roster type who needs every opportunity he can get. But Price, in addition to helping Telfair improve by battling him hard in practice, was also one of Bassy's biggest supporters.

"I'm a competitor and so is Bassy, so when you have two competitive guys going against each other at the same position, every day, night in and night out, you're gonna have some clashes," said Price. "But at the end of the day, we have so much respect for one another that I can push him. I can say things to Sebastian that maybe someone else can't say. I can get on Bassy as a player getting on a friend. He's like a brother to me. So I think we learned from each other. The way he finished off this year was special."

***Price final day audio (I guarantee you'll like him more after listening to this.)***

I'll give two final grades for Ronnie Price. If we look at bottom line production without regard to expectations, role and salary, Price gets an F. While a feisty defender, he has no discernible point guard skills. He's a poor shooter and playmaker, both his stats and the eyeball test showed he wasn't much use to the Suns.

If we do takes those other factors into consideration, as well as his positive locker room presence, Price earned a C. For an end of the bench player who rarely played, he contributed in whatever way he could, and there was no downside to having him around. Put another way, he scored more than Josh Childress this season, at about 1/6 of the cost!

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