November 4, 2012; Orlando FL, USA; Phoenix Suns huddle up prior to the game against the Orlando Magic during the first half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Phoenix Suns: Suns Player's November Report Cards


Through the first 17 games in the month November and one game in October the Suns have gone 7-10. Good news is the Suns have been better than what critics expected. The Suns were projected by most critics to be one of the bottom teams in the western conference and one of the worst teams in the league this season.

This is a segment I’ll be doing all season long. After every month I’m going to give every Suns player who gets consistent minutes and are part of the Suns rotation a grade, evaluation, and comment. So let’s get started!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Goran Dragic

Grade: A

Evaluation:

Dragic has pretty much lived up his expectations in fact he’s been a little better. The Suns offered the Dragon that big 4-year 30 million dollar deal over the summer hoping that he can replicate his performance as a starter in Houston back here in Phoenix, and he’s done just that. His numbers as a starter in Houston are better than the numbers he’s posted this season but keep in mind Dragic isn’t not playing 37 minutes a night like he did back when he started for Houston. One major improvement that Dragic has shown is his ability to take care of the ball. Dragic has an assist to turnover ratio of 2.96 this season compared to 2.21 last season; that’s a huge improvement.

Comments:

One stat that jumps out at me when I look at Dragic’s stats is that  HUGE difference in his stats in wins and losses. Dragic averages nearly 6 more points in wins and shoots better than 50% from the field and from the 3-point line in the Suns 7 wins this season compared to 43% shooting and 29% from downtown in losses. Dragic could do a better job being even more aggressive and attacking the basket, and his 8.5 assist per. 40 minutes could improve a little bit too, however Dragic has more than lived up to his expectations assuming your expectations were that he’d carry his Houston performance over to Phoenix.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Shannon Brown

Grade: B-

Evaluation:

Brown was spectacular when the season began, so well in fact he had my vote for 6th man of the year. I didn’t agree with Alvin Gentry decision to bring him off the bench and place him in the starting line-up and the stats back me up. Brown averages 13.4 point per game off the bench compared to 7.6 as a starter despite the fact that he played 2 minutes less on average coming off the bench. There’s a saying “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.” And needless to say Gentry should of listened to that saying. Brown was playing terrific in the role of the 6th man but now he’s back to mediocrity since he took over the starting role.

Comments:

Brown has shown great improvement since last season especially getting to the foul-line but his shot selection still needs work. Brown has been relatively good at attacking the basket and he’s been able to keep his turnovers in check despite no longer being a spot-up guy; that’s always a bonus. Brown has certainly earned his 2-year 7 million dollar deal.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Michael Beasley

Grade: D+

Evaluation:

Beasley gets a passing grade this time around, but barely; the only reason he didn’t get a big F is because of what he’s shown in the past several games. Beasley has only shot above 50% in 4 games this season but the silver lining is that he’s done so 3 times in the past 4 games. Beasley has been absolutely awful shooting the basketball, shooting only 38% from the field overall and an abysmal 26% from 3-point land, his rebounding has been poor, his defense hasn’t been impressive, his shot selection is as awful as his shooting percentages, he’s averaging 2.7 turnovers per game, and the only bright spot thus far has been his ability to set-up his teammates.

Comments:

Beasley claims that he’s dealing with issues with his shooting hand whether how true that may be it’s no excuse for someone with his talent to shoot that poorly from the field. I believe his shooting will improve. It has to because it can’t get any worse(knock on wood). Perhaps critics were right, maybe Beasley needs to move over to the power forward position so that he can rebound better and have a easier time scoring on offense given that most power forwards won’t be able to guard him. The way I see it right now, Beasley is more of a Lamar Odom type of player than he is a Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Durant. Good news is, Beasley still has 65 games to prove himself, bad news is there’s a chance this is the Michael Beasley we’ll see for the next 65 games.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Markieff Morris

Grade: B

Evaluation:

Markieff has been terrific, especially as a starter. Morris has finally snapped out of that slump he was in earlier this season and that’s great news for the Suns and himself. Morris has been aggressive around the basket which has helped his cause immensely but he needs to stay down there more often and not drift out to the perimeter. His biggest enemy right now is his ability to hit the jump shot. In the NBA big men who base their game off of jump shooting often struggle with consistency, unless your name is Dirk Nowitzki. Markieff has been a good rebounder although the numbers say otherwise. The thing that I see with Morris is that he’s a good rebounder when he’s near the rim but he just doesn’t seem to have that mindset of trying to grab 10, 12 rebounds a game and that’s hindering his potential as a rebounder. One of the most impressive things I’ve seen from Markieff is his ability to defend the high pick-and-roll. There have been many occasions in which I’ve seen him trap the guard out top and get steal or at least disrupt the play; the most memorable defensive Morris made on a high pick and roll was the steal he got against the Nuggets down the stretch in a close game which the Suns won.

Comments:

Markieff needs to buy one of those white boards and hang it above his locker and write down his goals for the game, because a lot of times it seems like he’s just floating around out there. He doesn’t assert his will, he doesn’t try to set up post position early, and more often than not he’s just hanging out around the free throw line both on offense and defense. Markieff needs to learn to assert himself into the game from the jump and understand that those small things, those un-highlight reel material type of things, like establish early post position, running towards the rim as soon as a shot goes up, that is what’s going to take his game to next level. Oh yeah one more thing, he needs to spend a summer studying with Hakeem Olajuwon, this boy has zero post moves.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Marcin Gortat

Grade: C

Evaluation:

The embarrassment in Utah, and that controversial Polish interview aside, Gortat has been pretty good. Gortat’s rebounding has gone down but that’s more because of the addition of Luis Scola than it is anything else; Scola is a far better rebounder than Channing Frye. Gortat has fell out of favors with Alvin Gentry and is most likely on his way out, that much is for certain. His comments from that Polish Interview definitely didn’t sit well with Alvin Gentry as he responded by benching Gortat a couple times during the 4th quarter. But Gortat has played fairly well, although his scoring has gone down but anytime when your point guard goes from Steve Nash to Goran Dragic there’s bound to be a drop off in everybody’s scoring, ask Jared Dudley. One thing that Gortat has improved from last season is his shot blocking, he’s done a much better job swatting shots away this season averaging 2.2 blocks per game on the season compared to 1.5 per game last season.

Comments: 

Honestly there isn’t much to say at this point. Gortat will most likely be in another uniform by all-star break, and judging by the results of the poll on Sun-N-Gun regarding Gortat’s situation, most of you would like to see him gone anyway. Gortat had declined an extension offer from the Suns in October as that news recently got out which means his intention is to leave Phoenix one way or another. However as long as Gortat is here we’ll appreciate his 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks a game.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Luis Scola

Grade: B+

Evaluation:

Scola has been terrific. He’s been exactly what he’s been his whole career, a tough, hard nosed, smart, poised professional. Scola has been a professional about coming off the bench and has yet to show any sign of displeasure, although I’m sure it bothers him at least a little bit on the inside. Scola coming off the  bench or starting, has given the Suns a post presence on the offense end, and has given them good post defense as well as consistent rebounding on a game to game basis.

Comments: 

Prior to Scola’s arrive in Phoenix, I didn’t think much of him. I just always thought he was this average player who likes to flop when he plays against my Suns. But Scola has earned my admiration and respect, his professionalism, and his leadership has proven to be a great value for the Suns now and going forward; Markieff can learn a thing or two from him. Scola is at a stage in his career where there won’t be much improvement, and you can expect him to decline a little more after each season however his game on both ends of the floor is heavily predicated on basketball IQ, and decision making. That is exactly why Scola will age almost as well as Steve Nash as the years go by and Scola will bring his high basketball IQ, leadership, and professionalism to the court every single game as long as he’s able to.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Jared Dudley

Grade: C+

Evaluation:

Dudley came off a career year last season but this season he’s been off to a rough start. The reason I gave him a C+ is because he’s been far better as of late but it still doesn’t change the fact he’s had an awful season thus far. JYD had a lot of issues with his shot when the season began as he shot 33% through the first 5 games, however since Gentry moved him back to the bench he’s been a lot better. Since Dudley’s been off the bench his percentages have gone up, both from the field and from behind the 3-point line.

Comments: 

It’s clear now that Dudley thrived from being Steve Nash’s wingman(I know, SHOCKER!). Dudley reminds me of what James Jones was when he was with the Suns a few years ago. Much like Jones, Dudley loves being a catch and shoot guy but what made those two guys so effective when they played with Nash is Nash’s second to none ability to hit his guys with the pass while their in rhythm and that makes a huge impact for spot-up shooters, ask anyone. Dudley will have a easier time coming off the bench for the time being as he adjusts to his new teammates and life without Mr. Nash.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Sebastian Telfair

Grade: C+

Evaluation:

I was probably part of a small majority that believed that Kendall Marshall would be a back-up point guard instead of Telfair, and that Marshall deserves to be the back-up. Well, I wasn’t right but it doesn’t mean I was wrong, Marshall has yet to play this season except during garbage time but nonetheless Telfair has been pretty good, if not mediocre. Number wise, Telfair was better last season but Telfair’s aggressiveness defense on opposing guards has continuously changed the tone of the game which is why he’s still Goran Dragic’s back-up and he’ll likely keep that role unless the Suns recent struggles continue and Marshall impresses in the D-League.

Comments:

They should have a show in Phoenix called “Everybody loves Bassy.” Because it seems like that’s what’s taking place. Telfair has won the hearts of Suns fans everywhere except mine, I like Bassy, I just don’t “Love” Him. Telfair’s contract expires after this season and odds are he’s going to end up somewhere else, but much like Gortat’s situation, while Bassy’s here let’s just appreciate his game while we’re still able to.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

P.J Tucker

Grade: A

Evaluation:

Effort will always be a major factor in terms of your grade, I learned that the hard way in high school….Anyways! Effort, that’s what’s made Tucker such a beloved player in the valley of the Suns. Tucker’s non-stop, energizer bunny like energy is absolutely infectious and that only creates a positive energy for the Suns. He was signed to a mere 2-year deal worth less than 2 million dollars, and if this guy improves his offensive game, he’s going to be a huge steal for the Suns.

Comments:

Tucker’s offensive game is very raw, but his defensive ability as well as his rebounding ability, that’s all there. Tucker’s defensive potential is encouraging and his rebounding ability is simply a bonus. If Tucker develops a Jared Dudley type of offensive game, he can very well become a Ronnie Brewer type player which is a huge compliment given Brewer’s success in Chicago and now in New York.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Jermaine O’Neal

Grade: B+

Evaluation:

The only reason I didn’t give O’Neal a A is because he was awful in the beginning of the season. However since O’Neal’s return from his aunt’s death in South Carolina he’s been tearing it up, and turning back the clock. Since O’Neal’s return he’s averaging 10.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2 blocks per game while shooting 54% from the field playing only about 21 minutes per game; those are great numbers  considering his minutes, and statically speaking, he hasn’t been this good per minute wise since his prime days back in Indiana in the mid 2000s.

Comments:

The O’Neal signing has certainly paid off for the Suns. This guy has been terrific so terrific in fact, Alvin Gentry doesn’t hurt his team much when he benches Marcin Gortat. O’Neal looks rejuvenated, and he has even shown a couple of flashes of his signature athletic plays from his golden days with the Pacers. Whether or not O’Neal can maintain his level of performance is another story however with the unexpected reemergence of O’Neal, trading Gortat would hurt the Suns a lot less than originally expected.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

 

 

Tags: Goran Dragic Jared Dudley Jermaine O'neal Luis Scola Marcin Gortat Markieff Morris Michael Beasley NBA P.j Tucker Phoenix Suns Sebastian Telfair Shannon Brown