We’ve looked at the good and the bad, and now it’s time for the meat and potatoes of what went wrong for the Phoenix Suns this past season. There were clearly no shortages of disappointments, but here are the three developments that made Suns fans turn off their TVs in disgust:
Hedo Turkoglu’s PF career
When Turkoglu and the Orlando Magic came to Phoenix near the end of the season, a media member asked Hedo why he wasn’t successful with the Phoenix Suns. Before Turkoglu could answer, Brandon Bass said with a laugh, “Because he was the four man.”
Every player, coach and fan knew Turkoglu wasn’t capable of playing the four, and it was foolish of the Suns to think he had the ability to defend power forwards yet space the floor on offense.
Turkoglu was supposed to come in and become a second facilitator to Steve Nash, but there’s no such thing as a second ball handler with Nash on the floor, so Hedo became nothing more than a glorified spot-up shooter.
He was more than solid in spot-up situations, as according to Synergy Sports Technology he ranked fourth in the NBA in spot-up shooting, scoring 1.55 points per possession on 58.3 percent shooting from two and 57.9 percent from three.
But the Suns had enough spot-up shooters, Turkoglu was counted on to be a playmaker and at least hold his own on defense. He failed to do either.
Turkoglu scored only 0.62 points per possession on 31 percent shooting out of isolation situations, and wasn’t much better facilitating the pick and roll as he scored 0.69 points per possession while shooting 40 percent from the field.
Defensively Turkoglu ranked 405th in the NBA in overall defense, allowing 0.99 points per possession and 44.6 percent shooting. Hedo quickly became a joke to Suns fans as he was booed continuously. Turkoglu’s underwhelming stint in Phoenix is something the front office is trying to forget as it was their worst experiment of the season.
Vince Carter’s inconsistency
While the Hedo experiment is Phoenix’s ugliest move, Carter’s play is a close second. Although Carter didn’t have big expectations as Marcin Gortat was the centerpiece of the trade, I don’t think many people thought he’d be as sorry as he was with the Suns. Carter finished his Suns season averaging 13.5 points per game and shooting 42.2 percent from the field.
But it wasn’t his overall body of work that was frustrating, it was his inconsistency. Carter would explode for 30-plus and then forget to show up. He scored in double figures for his first 10 games with Phoenix, but his second-longest streak of consecutive games in double figures was four.
His shot selection was horrendous and his effort was even worse. Like Turkoglu’s, Carter’s career in Phoenix will not be a memorable one.
Robin Lopez’s gigantic regression
At media day Alvin Gentry said Lopez was “one of the most important guys on our team.” Steve Nash threw around the word “premier” when talking about Lopez’s play.
After Lopez’s joke of a season Gentry and Nash have to be wondering what they were thinking when they made those comments.
But can you blame them? I wrote how Lopez was the X-factor for the Suns this season, and it wasn’t a stretch that he’d produce after the way he looked at the end of the 2009-10 season and against the Lakers in the playoffs.
But Loepz was a shell of his former self, losing eight inches off his vertical and showing little to no mobility on the floor.
While he added a nice mid-range jump shot to his game, he scored only 0.65 points per possession out of the post and was even worse defensively.
The 7-footer ranked 459th in the NBA in overall defense as he allowed 53.1 percent shooting and 60.0 percent shooting out of the post.
From 2009-10 to 2010-11 Lopez’s traditional stats decreased in every major category – points, rebounds, blocks, FG percentage.
If Gortat didn’t come in and save the day it’s hard to think where the Suns would have finished this season because Lopez brought nothing to the table and gave the Suns reason to worry about their once-promising 23-year-old center.