We all know where the Phoenix Suns stand at the All-Star break — seventh place in the Western Conference at 31-22 — but how has each individual Sun fared through the first 53 games of the season? Here are some midseason report cards for each and every Phoenix Sun:
Steve Nash: A
The only reason the most ridiculous man in the world doesn’t earn an A+ here is because the Suns are at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race. But hardly any of the 9.5 games that the Suns are out of first place are Nash’s fault. The 36-year-old is playing about as well as he has in 13 years in the NBA.
He is averaging 18.3 points and 11.1 assists on 51.9 percent from the field, 43.7 percent from three and a career-high 93.9 percent from the charity stripe. All of those numbers are around career bests for Nash.
To prove how timeless Nash has been, compare his averages to John Stockton at age 36 (11.1 points and 7.5 assists), Oscar Robertson at 35 (12.9 and 6.5), Mark Jackson at 36 (8.4 and 7.4), Jason Kidd at 36 (9.3 and 9.3); the list goes on.
Amare Stoudemire: B
Amare has been a roller coaster all season long. His offensive numbers — 21.2 points and 8.6 rebounds — are quite solid, but his all-around play has been far from consistent. He is in the top 15 in the NBA in both scoring (10th) and field-goal percentage (11th), but the inconsistency defensively and on the glass deflates the meaning of those numbers a bit.
When Amare plays with intensity and passion in areas other than offense, the Suns are scary. But that focus has been a problem all year for Amare. He has gotten back on track as of late – 24.8 points and 11.8 rebounds in February — but who knows whether or not Amare’s next game will come in Phoenix or Cleveland.
Jason Richardson: C
J-Rich, like Amare, has been the model of inconsistency this season. One game he’ll show up and drill three after three, and the next he looks like a chucker just trying to pad his stats.
His 14.5 points per game and mediocre 35.1 three-point percentage combined with his hideous contract – $14.4 million owed next season – has Suns fans shouting trade. I’m sure the Suns are trying their very best to attach J-Rich to any deal, but with one of the most anticipated free agent classes in NBA history on the horizon, no one wants to take on all of those zeros.
J-Rich still doesn’t look like he’s exactly sure where he fits in the Phoenix equation. He certainly hasn’t been the defensive stopper Steve Kerr wishfully thought heading into the season. And his efficient post-up play doesn’t happen nearly enough to be considered an actual weapon. J-Rich has been a bad defender, a solid rebounder, a mediocre scorer and a pain in the side of the Suns’ checkbook.
Grant Hill: B
It’s hard to ever criticize anything that Grant Hill does. He is a model teammate and a great leader, and is producing right about where he should be — 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 29.4 minutes per game — for his age, salary and slightly decreasing role.
He started the season out hot, but to expect him to keep that up was more than wishful thinking. He is a nice slasher and finisher in the open court, but Hill’s effectiveness on the court is apparent about one in every three games, which is more a product of his age and body wear and tear than anything else.
Channing Frye: B
Frye’s 11.9 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game is about what I was expecting when the big man returned home to the Valley, but the way in which he’s done it has been a sight to see.
Sure he’s fallen to a bench role as of late, but 120 threes from a guy who had only nailed 20 from distance in his four NBA years prior to Phoenix is a huge bonus. Frye’s shooting prowess was undoubtedly one of the main reasons why the Suns were so good at the beginning of the year.
The way he spreads the floor and opens up the offense is key, but his propensity to shoot often lulls the Suns into becoming a jump-shooting happy team. He is somewhat of a defensive liability and fairly weak on the glass, but all in all he has succeeded expectations.
Robin Lopez: B+
Lopez has surprised Planet Orange in the past couple of months. I was never a fan of the big man, always quick to cite his lack of hands and terrible instincts, but Ro-Lo has been huge for the Suns in their recent resurgence before the Portland loss.
He has offered that defensive presence down low that seemingly no one else in purple and orange has the skills and determination to provide. The seven-footer has averaged 11 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in his last 14 games, and has added at least two blocks in half of those contests. After missing the first month of the season, Lopez has done his best to sure up the center position for Phoenix.
Goran Dragic: A –
Dragic has had a mini-breakout season of sorts. Although his 8.2 points and 2.4 assists won’t blow you away by any means, Goran has proven a lot of things thus far, most importantly that he can be heir to the Steve Nash throne.
His 32-point outburst against the Jazz in late January solidified the Slovenian’s confidence and swagger — both of which were severely lacking last season. If nothing comes from this season for the team playoff-wise, at least Dragic had made great strides.
Jared Dudley: A –
Not much needs to be said here. Dudley plays harder than anyone in purple and orange, and it shows. He has been the Suns’ sixth man this season with Leandro Barbosa on the shelf much of the year, and without him, the Suns would probably be hovering around .500. Who would have thought Dudley would be sitting third in the NBA in three-point percentage?
Leandro Barbosa: C
Injuries have plagued LB’s season, and it is a shame that one of the Blur’s biggest highlights didn’t even come on the basketball court, but rather the big screen. The 10.6 points per game he has averaged marks his lowest scoring output since his sophomore season, and the once untouchable LB is now being thrown in trade rumors like it’s nothing. But all of that is largely due to the myriad of injuries he’s faced this season.
Lou Amundson: B
What Lou brings to the table is unmatched by many others. The 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds along with constant energy in only 14.4 minutes of action is all a coach can ask for out of a guy making $855K this season. Lou has been Lou thus far, and I don’t expect it to change.
Earl Clark: C
Clark has been probably the most disappointing Sun this season. It is hard to say that as he’s still a 22-year-old rookie, but I really thought he had the skill set to earn some minutes this season and produce, but it’s been the polar opposite -– 2.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 8.4 minutes per game.
The upside is still there, but nothing has come from the Suns camp that sounds all to encouraging about the Louisville product.
Jarron Collins: N/A
Taylor Griffin: N/A