The Channing Frye I knew at the University of Arizona was predominately an inside player with a sweet jumper stretching out to about 15 feet.
When he hit a three ball to put Arizona up 12 with six minutes to go in the 2005 Elite Eight against Illinois (my mind blanks on what happened the rest of that game), it was a shock not only in that it seemed to seal Arizona’s Final Four berth but also because it was only the sixth trey he hit as a collegian.
So how is it the case that the Suns are billing Channing as the second coming of Tim Thomas but with a motor?
“When I got to the NBA it was just one of those things. I wasn’t as big as those guys, so they were like, ‘Shoot the ball,’ and I didn’t really miss a whole lot, so I just kept doing it,” said Frye, adding his shot has improved by “leaps and bounds” as a pro. “Over the years it’s definitely progressed to the three-point line.”
Still, Frye has yet to establish himself as a consistent long-range shooter in game action. He hit exactly three triples in each of his first three years in a varying amount of attempts and last year he hit 11 in 33 attempts, improving his career marks behind the line to 20-for-70 (28.6 percent).
So the reason the Suns are so optimistic about Frye’s three-point shooting abilities is because of what they’ve seen out of him in scrimmages and workouts.
The internal coach in Frye forces him to nail 450 jumpers a day of all varieties, off the dribble, inside, outside, three balls, moving shots, everything. He normally gets that done in an hour and a half. See how long it takes you to make 450 shots to gauge how impressive that is. Even on Media Day, Frye said he nailed about 400 shots before the party started.
Frye’s touch has Suns VP of basketball ops David Griffin drooling over the possibility of a small lineup in which everybody excels from long range.
“We can put five shooters out there, and because Channing shoots it as well as he does, it’s not like you’re putting five shooters on the court that shoot 18-footers,” he said. “We can put five legitimate, big-time three-point shooters.”
Frye commended the shooting touch Amare has shown in scrimmages, so I asked him who would win a shooting contest between Phoenix’s bigs. But Channing didn’t want to answer the question the way I phrased it.
“No, that’s too easy. We’ll mess with the guards,” Frye said, panning the room in search of better shooters. “So maybe I think Steve would get me, J-Rich. Steve and J-Rich, other than that I’d put my money on myself, and that’s just from being in the gym.”
For those of you scoring at home, that’s one of the game’s all-time best shooters and the guy who led the NBA in three-point shooting for a decent part of last year. On a team with as many gunners as the Suns have, it’s saying something that Frye puts himself third in that pecking order of shooters.
If he hits shots with the accuracy of the Suns’ third best shooter than Phoenix will have a hell of a floor spacer to alleviate pressure off Nash and Amare.
“I just think with Channing out on the floor, he’s a great three-point shooter, he spaces the floor,” said Suns head coach Alvin Gentry, who plans to start Frye at center. “With Amare rolling to the basket then I think that has to be a decision that the defense makes. ‘What do I do, do I help?’ If you don’t help, obviously Steve gets Amare the ball, but if you do I think Channing at the three-point line can be very effective for us.”
Even at the other end, an area where Frye excelled in college but has yet to establish himself at the NBA level, Nash is optimistic about what he can do if only because he isn’t Shaquille O’Neal.
The Suns brought in Shaq to rebound and guard the post, and in the latter area the 245-pound Frye can’t match up.
But he’s an athletic big who will move his feet, like Robin Lopez, which makes the Suns and Nash especially optimistic that their pick-and-roll defense will improve.
“Robin and Channing (are) two seven-footers who are active and willing to move their feet and rebound and hustle,” Nash said. “I’m really excited about that. I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a team with that type of dimension in two guys at that position. I don’t think either one of them’s an All-Star-type player, but they’re two guys who bring a lot to the table, especially in complement to one another, so I’m really happy about the center position.”
The Suns are awfully optimistic about a player who averaged 4.2 and 2.2 last season, but if there’s ever a player who fits their system it’s Channing Frye.
As Frye continued to develop a perimeter game, his friends kept telling him how perfect he would be in the type of system run in Golden State, Phoenix and now New York since Channing departed the Big Apple.
By signing in Phoenix, Frye also became a rare player to play high school, college and pro ball in the same area, and in so doing he returns home to play in a system that suits him perfectly.
“There was nothing wrong with this place,” Frye said. “I really thought about this, there is nothing wrong with the style that they play, with their coaching staff, with their leadership, with their GM, I mean, how do you get better than Steve Kerr?
“So, I mean, it’s just everything. It’s a great time for me right here.”
Not the tweeting type
Channing Frye possesses the type of engaging personality that would make him a natural on Twitter a la Jared Dudley.
But don’t expect the long-time blogger to get a Twitter account any time soon.
“Oh, I hate Twitter,” Frye said. “I don’t mess with that.”
However, he continues to maintain his blog on ChanningFrye.com, which spouts lines of gold such as this about Sapporo’s in Scottsdale:
“Two things that I think keep me coming back is one, that cougars (older single women) and coyotes (older single men) operate here in big numbers. This is their territory and it’s great to catch a glimpse of them prowling around and having a good ole time with the younglings that fall prey to great drinks and eats that put a spell on you, young and old alike.”
Said Frye of his blog entries: “I do it on my phone while I’m there. I can go real in-depth. I go more in-depth on movies and just new stuff. I just kind of review whatever.”
Tags: Channing Frye