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TomShoe's Player Profiles: Phoenix Suns

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TomShoe's Player Profiles: Phoenix Suns

So, it turns out "Mr. PER" John Hollinger is putting up his updated player profiles for this year. I know many people want to look at them, but ESPN can be a real B- when they're putting up paywalls and shoving the benefits of insider in your face every other article. So, for sh*ts and giggles, also because I'm pulling my hair out waiting for either Oct. 5 (Start of the preseason), or Oct. 30 (start of the regular season), I might as well post them here, for nbadraft.net and the whole internet to enjoy.

Sorry about the hiatus in posting these, I've been out and about enjoying my birthday weekend. Things should be back to normal from here on out. Now about the Suns...

Welcome to the Team of Misfit Toys, everybody. A whole team cobbled together from several parts of other teams. From the Rockets (Dragic, Scola), to the Wolves (Beas, Wesley), to the Lakers (Brown), It's like every team has a former player who plays for the Suns. Even though the team lost Nash this year, this is still an experienced team that has legitimate playoff aspirations. Don't expect too much, as they're still in the Western Conference...

Anyway, Suns up, Blazers tomorrow, and the Raptors, led by Landry Field's $8 million a year contract, is coming Monday.

Enjoy.

-TomShoe

PROJECTED STARTERS

GORAN DRAGIC, PG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

17.4
4.0
7.8
16.9

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Aggressive, left-handed score-first point guard. Great finisher for a guard.
+ Odd, inconsistent release off shoulder. Goes left almost every time.
+ Great size for position. Good athlete. Decent defender with good hands.

Analysis
Dragic's talent has always enticed, and last season he delivered on it with a career year built on improved mastery of the point guard position. He's always been able to get to the rim, but he showed great improvement as a distributor -- even eking into the top half of point guards in pure point rating -- and slashed his still-high turnover ratio just enough that it stopped being such a negative.

Dragic shot 67 percent at the rim, the best of any point guard with at least 150 attempts, plus he drew fouls at a high rate (nearly one free throw for every three field goal attempts). That pretty much carried him to the eighth-best true shooting percentage at his position, even though his outside stroke remains suspect. He made only 33.7 percent of his 3s and 37.3 percent of his long 2s, but, on a positive note, he hit a career-best 80.5 percent from the line -- boosting the impact of those free throw attempts.

Dragic had a huge one-year jump last season and regression is a concern, but I'd be more worried if he weren't moving to another point-guard-centric system. He actually shot below his career average on 3-pointers last season and has always had excellent finishing numbers at the rim; he just needed to figure out how to get there without turning it over so much. Phoenix's system, like Houston's, gives the rock to the point guard and gets out of the way, so he likely will be able to replicate his performance.

Defensively, Dragic made a lot of progress. He cut his foul rate, which allowed him to stay on the floor, and he still was active enough to rank in the top third of point guards in steals. His other data pegged him as a league-average defender, but he can do better. Dragic has good size and hands but still needs to commit more at this end.

SHANNON BROWN, SG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

17.4
4.3
2.2
12.9

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Highflier with deep range but fluctuating accuracy. Short for a shooting guard.
+ Limited handle, struggles to create and penetrate. Doesn't see floor well.
+ Undersized but active defender. Athletic, strong and rarely fouls

Analysis
Just to show that the Lakers aren't so special, Brown decided to post the exact same numbers in Phoenix that he did in L.A. the season before. Sure, there are some slight deviations if you look hard enough -- including a career-best 36.2 percent on 3s -- but the big-picture take is still that Brown makes life too hard on himself by forcing long 2s. He took more than a third of his shots from 16 to 23 feet and made only 35.3 percent of them; a year earlier, he did a similar thing and made just 32.8 percent.

His shot creation has some value, producing the third-highest scoring rate on the Suns, but the profusion of long 2s largely explains why such an athletic guard can have such a poor free throw rate. Brown also created little for others, sporting the third-worst assist ratio among shooting guards.

Defensively, it's a similar story. Brown is athletic but undersized, and, although he rarely fouls, his overall impact isn't what you might expect. His amazing Synergy numbers from 2010-11 appear to be either an outlier or an error, as he ranked below average last season, and his other data supported the conclusion that he was pretty ordinary at this end.

JARED DUDLEY, SF

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

15.3
5.8
2.3
14.5

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Smart, sound combo forward who will make open 3s and crash boards.
+ Limited athlete but a solid defender because of smarts and intensity.
+ Struggles to create shots. Good cutter off ball and improved midrange shooter.

Analysis
Dudley's big-picture stats looked similar to the previous season's, but one notable item is that he has established himself as one of the league's elite shooters on long 2s. Dudley was second in the NBA in shooting percentage from 16 to 23 feet, making 49.4 percent, and it comes on the heels of a 45.9 percent mark a year earlier.

He's also pretty good from beyond 23 feet, making 38.3 percent of his treys, and drew fouls at a high rate for a jump shooter, thanks mainly to his offensive rebounding prowess. Sum it up and Dudley ranked fourth among small forwards in true shooting percentage, with a low turnover ratio, and his average of 16.3 points per 40 minutes was in the top third of 3s, as well. It might not look like much, but he has become a very effective offensive player.

Defensively, Dudley basically stopped going for steals -- he dropped from ninth to 53rd among small forwards in steals per minute -- but also cut his foul rate. He doesn't move terribly well, but he's a smart defender who takes charges and masks his limitations well. Opposing small forwards had just a 12.9 player efficiency rating against him last season, according to 82games.com, although his other stats were average at best.

LUIS SCOLA, PF

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

18.7
8.4
2.6
15.1

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Skillful, physical left-block post scorer who loves to turn over left shoulder.
+ Average athlete and a bit undersized. Good midrange set shot. Turnover-prone.
+ Mediocre defender. Really struggles against perimeter 4s. Won't block shots.

Analysis
Historically, undersized 4s don't age well, and last season we saw the first signs of slippage from Scola at age 31. The Rockets had other motives for using the amnesty on him, but there was also the underlying fear of how this movie might end with three expensive years left on his deal.

Scola was slightly less effective as a shooter, but his turnover ratio also jumped, making it an increasingly dubious proposition to keep feeding him in the post. He doesn't draw a lot of fouls and has a mediocre true shooting percentage, so if he's turning it over, too, there's not a whole lot of point in the exercise. He has come around as a midrange shooter, however, making 44.3 percent of his long 2s while trying more than six a game.

Defensively, Scola's rebound rate slipped, but he put up very respectable numbers in other phases and defended 4s about as well as he ever has. However, Houston frequently used him as a 5 in small-ball lineups, and this was pretty much like pouring gasoline on an open flame. He can't protect the rim at all and gives up too many inches to make this work. With the Suns having a couple of real centers at their disposal, it seems unlikely we'll see a repeat of this.

MARCIN GORTAT, C

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

16.9
12.1
1.3
18.7

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Mobile big man who is very effective rolling to basket in screen-and-roll.
+ Good rebounder. Thin frame, needs more strength. Faked off feet easily.
+ Has some post moves. Can make midrange J. Runs floor well. Blocks shots.

Analysis
Gortat had a career year as Steve Nash's roll man, massively boosting his offensive production at virtually no cost in accuracy. Scoring nearly a point every two minutes while shooting 55.5 percent with virtually no turnovers, Gortat was both productive and efficient. His turnover ratio was the third-lowest among centers, and he shot a stellar 71.5 percent in the basket area.

Perhaps most promisingly, he also showed a variety of moves away from the basket -- moves he might need this season as more of a go-to option. Gortat shot 40.6 percent on jumpers beyond 10 feet and 44.4 percent in the tricky 3-9 foot range. He has shown he can hit hook shots with either hand and could see a lot more work in straight post-ups this season.

Gortat supplements his scoring with excellent rebounding, finishing 12th among centers in defensive rebound rate. The rest of his defensive game is solid but unspectacular. He moves fairly well against the pick-and-roll and will block shots, but he also has a thin frame and leaves his feet too easily.


RESERVES

MICHAEL BEASLEY, F

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

19.7
7.9
1.8
13.7

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Left-handed goofball combo forward with quick first step. Good shooter for size.
+ Poor decision-maker. Goes left nearly every time and never passes.
+ Subpar defensive player. A tweener and doesn't always play hard. Better as a 4.

Analysis
He still took terrible shots, but at least Minnesota's offense was no longer designed for him to take terrible shots. Beasley's usage rate fell considerably, and I think we can all agree that's a good thing. The disappointing part was that Beasley couldn't improve his percentages any, and seems plagued by a lovefest with contested 18-footers.

Beasley is actually a good shooter. Despite the degree of difficulty on many of his shots, he made 40.4 percent of his long 2s and 37.6 percent of his 3s. The problem is that he has made the game incredibly difficult for himself. He never passes -- he was dead last among small forwards in pure point rating -- and he virtually never gets to the rim, either.

That's inexcusable; Beasley has a great first step to his left that should propel him to lots of fouls and layups, but less than a quarter of his shots came in the basket area. He made 62.4 percent of them, but he just didn't take enough, and that killed his percentages.

Defensively, Beasley rebounded well for a small forward and showed some progress toward becoming a halfway decent player. He was torched by some of the better small forwards, and I still think he's better off as a 4, but his defensive metrics were pretty solid (for a change) and he seemed more focused than in previous seasons.

CHANNING FRYE, C

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

15.1
8.2
2.1
12.9

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ One of game's best catch-and-shoot big men. Rare 3-pointer-shooting center.
+ Slender build but can post up small guards. Poor rebounder for size.
+ Subpar defender. Blocks shots, but lacks strength. Only average mobility.

Analysis
Frye's bizarre odd-year, even-year pattern continued last season, as his player efficiency rating jumped more than two points in the even year. This happened despite his playing nearly all his minutes at power forward -- historically, he has played better as a center. (And the trade of Robin Lopez likely sends him back to that position).

Frye actually had a bad season shooting, making just 34.6 percent of his 3s and 36.8 percent of his long 2s, but stepped up his play in other respects -- his rebound rate was his best in four years, and he set career highs in blocks and foul shooting. This offers some encouragement for the coming season. He almost certainly will get plenty of open looks as a backup 5, and convert more of them, so one hopes he can finally snap his pattern of year-to-year yo-yos.

Defensively, Frye will never be Dwight Howard, but he had one of his better seasons. Playing power forward left him less exposed to strength matchups, and he appeared to do a better job contesting the perimeter than he had done in previous stints at the 4. I wouldn't say he was good, by any stretch -- opposing 4s still registered a 17.6 player efficiency rating against him, according to 82games.com -- but his Synergy and on-court versus off-court data were pretty solid. Moving to center, one hopes he can at least maintain the increases in rebounding and shot-blocking from a year ago.

MARKIEFF MORRIS, F

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

15.3
9.2
2.4
12.7

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Tough big man who can shoot midrange jumper. Good rebounder.
+ Can finish but not a creator. Has limited post game. Not a great ball handler.
+ Good size and defensive mindset. Not a shot-blocker but plays hard.

Analysis
Morris had a great start but faded as the season went on, shooting only 39.9 percent from the floor overall and a miserable 42.0 percent on 2s. He shot a lot of jumpers but didn't shoot them particularly well, making a quasi-respectable 34.7 percent of his 3s but just 31.7 percent of his long 2s. Also, he needs to improve his low-post and finishing skills, as he shot just 50.1 percent inside 10 feet. Combined with a low foul rate, that meant his true shooting percentage was among the worst at his position.

Morris' other stats were more encouraging. His rebounding and ballhandling numbers were solid, and his rates of blocks and steals were in the top third of power forwards. He's active, at least, and doesn't seem overmatched athletically.

Nonetheless, he has a lot of work to do to become a good defensive player. Morris had the highest foul rate among power forwards, with a whistle every 6.9 minutes. Opposing power forwards had an 18.3 player efficiency rating at his expense, according to 82games.com, and his Synergy numbers were terrible. It's not unusual for rookies to take their lumps, but Morris was old for a rookie at 22 and needs to show a sharp development curve to make up for it.

KENDALL MARSHALL, PG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Pure point guard who makes the right pass every time. Great size for position.
+ B athlete at best. Might struggle defensively. Average shooter. Pathetic rebounder.

Analysis
Marshall isn't an elite athlete by any stretch, and that's a concern as a pro. Despite standing 6-4, he had the worst rebound rate of any prospect in this year's draft, and he had unimpressive numbers on the other athletic indicators, too. He's not a great shooter, either, shooting less than 70 percent from the line in both seasons at North Carolina and 36.4 percent on 3s.

So why are we talking about him? Because he might be the second coming of Mark Jackson. Marshall is big and flat-out knows how to play; his court vision and knack for the hit-ahead pass are miles beyond any other point guard in this draft. Marshall's pure point rating, for example, was an insane 4.79; only five other prospects were above 1.00, and it goes without saying that Marshall's mark was the best of them.

SEBASTIAN TELFAIR, PG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

15.9
3.8
6.1
12.0

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Small, quick point guard who can penetrate but struggles to finish.
+ Much-improved midrange shooter. Drives to score; doesn't see floor.
+ Quick but undersized defender. Effective against fast guards. Fouls too much.

Analysis
Hey, since when could you shoot? Telfair has failed his whole career largely because opponents never had to respect his jumper, but his midrange game has quietly become very solid. In fact, he was second in the NBA last season in shooting from 10 to 23 feet -- not to mention second among Phoenix point guards -- by making 48.3 percent of his deliveries from that range (see chart). Let's just say the scouting report on going under screens against him needs updating.
Top Shooters From 10 to 23 Feet, 2011-12

Player
Team
FG%

Steve Nash
Phx
52.7

Sebastian Telfair
Phx
48.3

Dirk Nowitzki
Dal
48.1

Tim Duncan
SA
47.1

Charles Jenkins
GS
46.6

Min. 150 attempts. Source: Hoopdata.com

It's not all good news; Telfair made only 31.4 percent of his 3s and remains an abysmal finisher (35-for-85 inside 10 feet), and his assist ratio remains poor. The difference is that the midrange J's let him generate some points while lowering his turnover risk. He still turns it over too much, but he cut his rate considerably last season thanks to the jumper. The downside to that, of course, is that, if his jump-shooting numbers regress, he's back to being 11th-man fodder.

Defensively, Telfair's lack of size gives him some problems, but he has good feet and overall did a solid job. The Suns gave up more points with him on the court, but that doesn't seem directly traceable to Telfair -- his Synergy grades were excellent, and opposing point guards had just a 13.2 player efficiency rating against him, according to 82games.com. He has to quit fouling, though; Telfair was whistled once every 7.5 minutes, a phenomenally high rate for a point guard, so high that only one player at his position exceeded it.

WES JOHNSON, GF

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

11.0
4.9
1.9
8.6

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Big wing who played out of position at 2. Spot-up shooter who can't shoot.
+ Very poor ball handler with weak offensive instincts. Doesn't draw fouls.
+ Solid defensive player with good leaping ability. Can block shots.

Analysis
The 2012 winner of the Darko Milicic How Long Do We Have to Keep Pretending He's Good Award, Johnson started the whole season despite contributing virtually nothing, and it only seemed to further shatter whatever shards of confidence he had left. Johnson shot 31.4 percent on 3s and 32.4 percent on long 2s, and 70.6 percent at the line. He can't shoot, basically, yet nearly all his shots are jumpers because he's a terrible ball handler.

Switching from the 2 to the 3 might help him some, but he played quite a bit of 3 last season and, statistically, wasn't any better. For the season, Johnson had the second-worst player efficiency rating among shooting guards, the third-worst scoring rate, free throw rate and usage rate, and the fourth-worst true shooting percentage. I'm not sure how much more evidence the Minnesota Timberwolves needed that he can't cut it, but he started 64 games anyway.

Johnson has shown more promise at the defensive end, finishing fourth among shooting guards in blocks per minute and posting a solid rebound rate. But let's not get carried away -- Synergy rated him below average; the Wolves gave up more points with him on the court; and he fouled far more often than the average wing.

He's already 25, so this is about it for his ceiling. I still can't get over the fact that he started the entire season for a playoff contender while playing this badly; if he hadn't been the No. 4 pick a year earlier (ahead of DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward and Paul George, among others), there's absolutely no chance this would have happened. His year-end change of scenery is probably the best thing for both parties.

JERMAINE O'NEAL, C

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

9.2
8.8
0.9
9.5

(Stats are per 40 minutes) | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Strong low-post defender and shot-blocker. Good team defender. Takes charges.
+ Solid rebounder. Low-percentage offensive player. Shoots line-drive jumpers.
+ Declining athleticism, can't score inside anymore. Injury-prone.

Analysis
O'Neal suffered through another injury-plagued season, playing only 25 games after completing just 24 a year earlier, and the drop-off in his performance has been fairly staggering. He had a single-digit player efficiency rating for a second straight season and has become particularly useless offensively, averaging just 8.8 points per 40 minutes. In fact, the Celtics improved dramatically almost as soon as they stopped playing him.

That said, he offers Phoenix a third center who can still play solid defense. O'Neal led the entire NBA in offensive fouls drawn per minute, and, even in his diminished state, he was eighth among centers in blocks per minute and had a strong defensive plus/minus. Additionally, the miracle workers on Phoenix's training staff might be able to do a better job keeping him in the lineup.


cornegg
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They are

a LOTTERY TEAM

Lipstick
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Hollinger's first description

Hollinger's first description of Beasley:

"Left-handed goofball combo forward with quick first step."

Love it.

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