Goran Dragic up against long line of elite Suns point guards

Posted by on January 16th, 1:44 pm

Point guard Goran Dragic leads the Suns in scoring with 14.1 points per game. He’s tops on the team in assists (6.1apg), steals (1.5spg) and Player Efficiency Rating (17.4). He may be the only member of the Suns deserving of the word “consistent” this season.

He also might be the worst point guard Phoenix has had in 15 years.

That’s no knock on “The Dragon”, whose nickname is more proof that Dragic might end up being the lone (and marketable) bright spot in an otherwise trying season. The truth is, however, that Dragic inherited the point guard spot after a long list of All-Star quality floor generals, including three potential Hall-of-Famers.

Steve Nash. Jason Kidd. Kevin Johnson. Stephon Marbury (don’t laugh, we’ll get there). It’s a pedigree — with all due respect to University of Arizona alum Michael Schwartz — strong enough to call Phoenix the elite point guard producer in the nation.

Here’s a look at Dragic’s predecessors and how he stacks up to them (note, this breakdown does not include the period between the Suns’ trade of Marbury to New York and signing Steve Nash, otherwise known as “a really, really bad time”):

Steve Nash (1996-1998, 2004-2012

Stats: 14.4 ppg, 9.4 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.2 spg, 50.4 FG%

Similarities: It’s worth wondering if Dragic ever thinks about the similarities that do exist between him and Nash. It might give him more confidence. Like Nash, Dragic started his career as a backup in Phoenix before being traded away (Nash to Dallas in ‘99, Dragic to Houston in 2011).

As they did with Nash, the Suns decided to reacquire Dragic after their previous point guard moved on (or, in Marbury’s case, was moved on).

It’s hard to blame Phoenix for pursuing Dragic, an above-average scorer and a much better defender. He also shows a similar knack for seeing all his teammates on the floor, an ability which makes him an exceptional passer, though the Slovenian’s 6.1apg look paltry to Nash’s numbers while in Phoenix ().

Then again, Gortat/Dudley/Scola isn’t exactly Stoudemire/Marion/Richardson, is it?

Differences: The shooting, for one. In eight seasons with Phoenix, Nash’s shot dipped below 50 percent just once, and that was by a whopping .008 percentage points. Dragic is currently hovering just under 45 percent.

Another point on their shooting is the “when.” Whenever Nash sensed the game might be slipping out of control or if crunch time buckets were needed, he’d step up.

Like this (starting at 0:43):

Dragic has donned the cape a couple times for Phoenix, but is far more comfortable playing within the flow of the game than putting his personal stamp on it. There are a million other differences between the two, but that might be the most glaring.

One other difference worth noting: Nash made teammates better. A lot better. It’s a big reason why management never never felt bad about slowly whittling the talent around him. They knew Nash would probably make it work, and he usually did.

If anything, the Suns are under-achieving this season, though that’s not Dragic’s fault as much as Michael Beasley’s. Still, Nash had an effect that helped boost his teammates’ numbers between two-to-four points per game, an effect Dragic has yet to achieve.

Stephon Marbury (2001-2004)

Stats: 21.3 ppg, 8.1 apg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 spg, 43.9 FG%

Similarities: Marbury played in China and the “Dragon” would be a popular nickname there? Sorry, moving on.

Differences: Swagger. Marbury carried himself on the court like he was Jordan, even when everyone in the arena (or shouting at the TV) knew he wasn’t.

The Suns probably wish Dragic had more swagger than he does now. Maybe he just needs to visualize Sasha Vujacic before every game.

The thing is, Marbury played like that all the time. Granted, his lack of efficiency made that more of a bad thing than a good thing, but that was the reason the Suns picked him as their new point guard in the first place: he wasn’t afraid of the moment.

Jason Kidd (1996-2001)

Stats: 14.4 ppg, 9.7 apg, 6.4 rpg, 2.1 spg, 41.9 FG%

Similarities: Like Kidd, Dragic can stuff a stat box, though not nearly as often or to the degree Kidd did. Defensively, they have similar height and length that allow them to hawk the ball (again, Kidd was far more consistent with this).

Neither of them should ever bleach their hair, though only one ever did it.

Differences: Kidd was a pitbull, particularly when grabbing a rebound. Once he secured the ball, Kidd started the fast-break by himself. Since he rebounded the ball at such a high rate for a guard, that become something opposing defenses had to account for every game.

Kidd was also a triple-double machine and dominated games without needing to score. He did this to the point that he finished fifth in MVP voting in 1999 despite the Suns finishing with a 27-23 record.

People talk about how Nash made players around him better, but Kidd helped the Suns sneak into the playoffs every one of his years in Phoenix despite his best teammates being Rex Chapman, Hot Rod Williams, a surgically repaired Penny Hardaway, and a rookie Shawn Marion.

Unless Dragic makes a leap to Kidd-level, the Suns probably won’t make the playoffs until he sees better teammates around him.

On the flip-side, opponents would play Kidd the way they play Rajon Rondo today, daring him to shoot (Kidd was a terrible shooter in his early years). Dragic has a lot more respect in that category.

Kevin Johnson (1987-2000)

Stats: 17.9 ppg, 9.1 apg, 3.3 rpg, 1.5 spg, 49.3 FG%

Similarities: Remember that 23-point fourth quarter Dragic exploded for against San Antonio in the 2010 playoffs?

KJ played like that all the time…when he was healthy. That was Johnson’s Achilles’ heal, just like assertiveness is Dragic’s issue.

When they shrug(ged) their respective kryptonite aside, however, Johnson and Dragic are remarkably similar. They both have/had an amazing knack for getting to the rim and passing through traffic. They were/are willing passers, but able to take over the offense themselves when needed.

Differences: Johnson was much better, much sooner, for much longer. Here’s a look at his most healthy years in the league.

1988-89: 20.4 points, 12.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 46.3%FG

1989-90: 22.5 points, 11.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 50.5%FG

1990-91: 22.2 points, 10.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 49.9%FG

1991-92: 19.7 points, 10.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 47.9%FG

If Dragic approaches those numbers just one year, Suns fans’ kids would be fighting to wear his No. 1 the way Phoenix kids fought to wear No. 7 in the early 90s.

Again, though, Johnson’s health was a constant worry. People forget he missed nearly half of the 1992-93 season, the year Phoenix made the Finals.

People also forget this was because Johnson foolishly tried to lift rookie Oliver Miller (315 pounds) off the ground during a preseason game. The consequent hernias completely derailed his health for the rest of his career.

Between that and Johnson’s horrendous 3-point shooting (he shot better than 22 percent from deep just twice in his career), Dragic has a couple things going for him.

You can follow Matt Petersen’s Suns-related thoughts/updates on Twitter at @SunsPetersen.

Matt Petersen

Matt Petersen has covered sports for websites and publications for six years, and currently works as the Sports Web Editor and sports reporter for The Deseret News in Salt Lake City. Matt lived in the Phoenix Valley until 2009, when school and a wife brought him to Utah. He completed his B.A. in Communications and Journalism at Utah Valley University, going on to be a sports reporter at The Daily Herald in Utah before moving on to his current job. Matt has covered the Suns, Jazz, and Arizona Cardinals as well as NCAA and high school sports throughout his career.

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Tags: Goran Dragic · Kevin Johnson · Phoenix Suns · Steve Nash

72 responses so far ↓

  • 1 gordon // Jan 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    “He may be the only member of the Suns deserving of the word “consistent” this season.”

    You’re right. Dragic’s consistently terrible for the last month or so. He’s bad on defense, can’t shoot free throws or run a pick and roll. Awful signing.

  • 2 john // Jan 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    KJ. That man could ball. Still my favorite Suns player of all time, and the team’s best PG in its history, in my opinion.

    Dragic most definitely has (figuratively) big shoes to fill as a PG in Phoenix.

  • 3 Polish_fan // Jan 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    @Gordon fully agreed! Chech Gortats numbers!

  • 4 Sillmarillion // Jan 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Dragic the only consistent player? Keep dreaming… Really, what is this with the Dragic hype amongst the VotS-writers? Are you his relatives or what?

  • 5 Ty-Sun // Jan 16, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Nice read and comparison. It’s really difficult for me to find too many faults with Dragic considering the rest of his teammates. It’s not that he’s playing with a lot of bad players, it’s just that no one on the Suns team would be considered more than a 3rd option on a really talented team. What I should clarify here is that not only do the Suns not have a top tier player/scorer, they don’t have a second tier player/scorer. But they do have at least 3 third tier players/scorers (Dragic, Scola and Gortat). Add a “Batman” and a “Robin” at the 2 and the 3 to play along with Dragic, Scola and Gortat and the Suns would be serious contenders.

    The rest of the team are basically role players or “under-achievers” (Beasley & Johnson). It’s hardly a team that you can expect any point guard not named Nash or Paul to rack up a lot of assists on this season.

  • 6 Troy // Jan 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Gordon is right!
    I feel like this piece was full of Dragic love and Marbury hate, but do not forget who led that Suns team to the playoffs. Then was dismissed like the evil step child because he had too much “swagger”. At least Steph got Amare the ball in the pick n roll through out those seasons. Dragic is still struggling with this and were almost to the All Star break. No wonder all we hear out of Gortat is complaints….
    Please do not get me wrong here, I like Dragic and have since we drafted the kid, even more after we made the stupid trade for Aaron Brooks because he improved. But honestly with all due respect he needs to take a page out of Bassy’s book. I recall Bassy lookin pretty nice when the young Dragon was out, and the reason is because he passed first, ran the pick n roll, ran the plays and played D, played D real tough too!

  • 7 Troy // Jan 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    As far as most consistent, I would have given that title to Scola….his average minutes played are less and yet he has almost the same numbers.

  • 8 john // Jan 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Just for the heck of it, I decided to do a brief statistical analysis of the “consistency” of four Suns players I figured could be in the running for that honor. My candidates were Dragic, Gortat, Scola, and Dudley (that was my suspected order to prior to this ordeal).

    My method is very simple because I know none of you will ultimately care whatsoever about the result. All I’m doing is calculating the max, min, average, variance, and standard devation of the “game score” for each player for each game. For those unfamiliar with game score, it’s an attempt to rate a players efficiency during a single game. If you want the exact formular for the measure, it’s out there, but I’m sure you don’t care. Those of you whose pre-conceived notions don’t agree with the results will dismiss the formula as flawed, and the rest of you are just laughing at how nerdy I am.

    Results by player:

    Dragic:

    Max- 20.7
    Min- 1
    Average- 11.61
    Variance- 32.12
    Standard Deviation- 5.67

    Gortat:

    Max- 25.3
    Min- (-)2.7
    Average- 10.9
    Variance- 34.21
    Std Dev- 5.85

    Scola:

    Max- 27.6
    Min- (-)0.9
    Average- 9.55
    Variance- 41.52
    Std Dev- 6.44

    Dudley:

    Max- 29.3
    Min- 1.1
    Average- 9.99
    Variance- 43.53
    Std Dev- 6.60

    So, according to game score, the most “consistent” would be Dragic (lowest variance and std dev). Also, Dragic’s average is the highest on the team, so you could make a good argument using game score that Dragic is also the “best” player on the team (not to mention every other advanced metric agrees that Dragic is the best Phoenix Sun).

    Interestingly enough, despite Goran’s higher consistency and averages, Gortat, Scola, and Dudley all have at least one game (max two) with a higher game score than Goran. Goran has yet to have a breakout game.

  • 9 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Jan 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    So now the pitchforks and spears are armed and ready to attack the Dragon, according to this message board. That’s funny.

    Are we really trying to say that Dragic is terrible and / or the main cause of the Suns being bad this season?

    To be clear I’m not talking to the writer. I’m talking to those who are so quick to bash Dragon.

    14 / 6 this season with this group of players? I’m good with that.

    Gortat doesn’t want to be here, Beasley doesn’t want to be on any NBA team, Shannon Brown is BAD, Oneal can’t be that guy, Dudley is a role player, PJ Tucker is a role player, Wes and Marshall don’t see the court – Scola is the team’s second best player and he can’t ‘take over’ games either.

    Yeah, Dragon is the guy. Teams know this. Oh well.

    As the roster turns over and guys are brought in that can be athletic while also being focal points of an offense, Dragon will improve.

    But, most of you act like you don’t know that. I know and you know that you do in fact understand how things are going, yet you just love to whine and cry about nothing anyway.

  • 10 DBreezy // Jan 16, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Well we have to have something to distract our attention from the fact that the Suns have officially slipped into sole possession of last place in the West, needing to beat MKE tomorrow to pull back into a tie for worst. And for the first time probably since probably 2004, they likely won’t be favored to win vs the Kings next week.

  • 11 Tony // Jan 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Dragic should not be even mentioned with those great pgs, particularly with Nash, KJ, and Kidd. I was never a big fan of Marbury, so I could care less if Dragic is compared to him. But comparing Dragic to those other great pgs is just ludicrous. The only similarily between them and Dragic is that all of them play(ed) the same position.

    @Dbreezy,

    just the fact that the Suns won’t be favored against the Kings demonstrates how bad of a position the Suns are in. It’s amazing to me that Babby and Blanks are still employed with the Suns, at this late point. It’s just pathetic how far this once great franchise has fallen under the ownership of Sarver. What a joke he is.

  • 12 Tony // Jan 16, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I also don’t understand the “love” Dragic gets from VOTS’ writers. But it’s not just them, you all should see how the lame writers over at BrightsideoftheSun treat Dragic. Most of them practically worship Dragic. In my opinion, Gortat is this team’s best player and it’s partially because of Dragic’s unwillingness or inability to pass to Gortat off pick and rolls that has stymied some of Gortat’s offensive-production.

  • 13 john // Jan 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    What would lead one to believe Gortat is playing better than Dragic? This Dragic hate has me curious.

  • 14 DBreezy // Jan 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    @Tony,

    As I said on the other article, I’m interested to see how these next few weeks go. My opinion only, obviously, but I think Alvin is the only one in the front office who seems to have any type of confidence vote from Sarver. Bobby gave Alvin a public vote of confidence about a month or so ago, and hasn’t seemed to waiver on it despite a nasty record since. Nobody likes to hear stuff like this, but one of the likely factors in guys still playing hard for him is that they know he isn’t going anywhere. He can’t be Avery Johnson’d or Mike Brown’d. Alvin also has to be fairly confident in his standing to publicly admit that it’s getting close to the time to start playing the young guys while saying that he hasn’t talked to his superiors about it. That’s not a characteristic comment form him imo.

    I know that’s not worth much on the 4th worst team in the league, but it is notable in the sense that Sarver hasn’t given even the slightest public vote of confidence in Babby and Blanks, who have largely kept a low profile this season. From what I can see Lance is even further in his foxhole despite last summer’s promise of more visibility and the Lunches with Lance seem years, not months ago. Lon seems to avoid AZC, VOTS, and Bright Side opting for the relative safety of KTAR and the softball and schtick of Doug and Wolf.

    All that said, the trade deadline should be interesting. Does Sarver trust these guys to mold the future of the team and let them make deals or does he stand pat and let a future front office make those calls? Especially deals that take on big and potentially salary cap crippling money like the Gay proposals? NCAA conference play is on and March Madness isn’t far away. The scouting season is in full effect and the Suns will have easily the most important pick of the Sarver era after the Hawks pick got away. They may have more than one lottery pick. Do you let these guys do the legwork on this when they haven’t done much of anything so far?

    My best guess is that we gradually begin to see more and more of the young guys over the next few weeks, and that despite a lot of rumors the Suns basically stand pat at the trade deadline. Perhaps a smaller deal that moves a Bassy or O’Neal to a playoff squad, but that’s it. The front office remains in place for the season, but is replaced this summer. Initially there will be a lot of local hype/hope that the Suns can get a top flight GM primarily centered around the notion that a top 5 draft pick and good cap space will be attractive to candidates. However the search will take longer than expected, similar to other Suns postings potentially muddling the Suns 2013 offseason. Just a guess, but that’s what my gut feels right now.

  • 15 Bill-in-Tokyo // Jan 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    @ John: Good stuff.

  • 16 DBreezy // Jan 16, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    “What would lead one to believe Gortat is playing better than Dragic? This Dragic hate has me curious.”

    As one who has been and continues to be long-winded about the Suns, when I look at this team I honestly ask myself ‘who cares’ about such questions in the grand scheme of things? It makes me think of the last two guys in this clip:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuWQfMGjZF4&w=420&h=315

  • 17 Tony // Jan 16, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    “What would lead one to believe Gortat is playing better than Dragic? This Dragic hate has me curious.”

    There is no hate of Dragic; what you call “hate,” is simply the truth. It makes me curious to know why some have this unhealthy proclivity of fawning over Dragic….It truly baffles me.

    The fact of the matter is that Gortat’s offensive-production is down because of Dragic’s inability to get him the ball off screens and thus utilize Gortat’s greatest offensive-strength. This is analogous to telling Dragic that he isn’t permitted to utilize his best offensive ability, that is to drive to the basket for a layup, but instead is only permitted to take jumpers from 15-25 feet, he’s not going to produce on a consistent basis. Especially since Gortat’s a center, he has to rely upon his pg to get him opportunities to score. Dragic doesn’t do this on a consistent basis. Thus, in certain categories Dragic’s numbers are better than Gortat’s, but that’s primarily due to Gortat’s lower usage-rate this season, at the expense of Dragic.

  • 18 Tony // Jan 16, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    @Dbreezy,

    I agree with most of your points, especially so regarding the prospects of potential deals the Suns make before the trade deadline. I too think that Telfair will be traded this season, just to allow Marshall a greater opportunity to develop into a mediocre role player. I also don’t see the Suns making a deal for Gay. It makes no sense to trade Dudley and 1st round picks for Gay and have to take on his contract. As of now, there also are no players available that are good enough to suddenly turn this team into a playoff team, especially when you consider that the Suns would likely have to give up Gortat or Dudley as part of any deal.

    Even though Sarver has demonstrated on many occasions that he couldn’t care less about his reputation with most Suns fans, I cannot fathom even he resigning Babby this coming off-season. I mean he must realize by now that Babby and Blanks have no idea what they’re doing…, unless he’s even more incompetent than I imagine. I don’t think he will fire Blanks though. He’ll probably let him finish out his contract and then replace him with another low-cost and unexperienced person to be the team’s GM.

    As far as Gentry is concerned, my biggest fear is that the FO uses him as a scapegoat and blames him for the Suns current predicament. Now, if the FO attempts to persuade Suns fans that the fault for the Suns pathetic record belongs to Gentry, I don’t believe they will be successful in convincing most reasonable people, such as yourself, that they are not the primary culprits in causing the Suns to become a bottom-tier NBA team.

  • 19 Scott // Jan 16, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    I’m fine with Dragic. He’s more durable than KJ, he shoots better than Kidd, he defends better than Nash, and he’s not crazy like Marbury.

    Where I think the Suns need to improve is at the other positions, especially SG.

  • 20 bill.thomas // Jan 16, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Here is our point guard of the future. I bet Morey would give him up for Shannon Brown, or maybe even Beasley.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3964/patrick-beverley

    Dig that PER!! Anyway, I think he’ll be unrestricted at season end.

    Go Suns !!!

  • 21 bill.thomas // Jan 16, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Since Babby and Blanks have not caused Sarver to jump off a cliff as yet, I would say that he (Sarver) is a very psychologically hardy and emotionally indestructible individual.

    He should be featured in Tony Robbins’ boot camps !!

  • 22 DBreezy // Jan 17, 2013 at 12:14 am

    @Tony,

    I’m sure Sarver has a quite dilemma on his hands from his pov as to what to do with Babby and Blanks. They are his first truly independent front office hires so one imagines that he has some level of interest in their succeeding relative to past hires, but the results speak for themselves. Sarver is generally so meticulous in ensuring that his contracts expire at the same time. I wonder if the original idea was for Babby to teach Blanks the ropes of the contract and cba game before handing things over to Blanks in a combined role at the end of Lon’s contract perhaps with Treloar moving up into Blanks’ current position.

    If Sarver decides that’s not going to work out, it’s kind of hard for me to imagine that Blanks survives Lon’s ouster. I mean what do you do with him? If you leave him in his current position for another season, you have to figure that it would be a complicating factor in hiring a new president of basketball ops. Who wants to take over a franchise in the dumps and be stuck with a gm that they not only didn’t choose, but that is hairline deep in the problems the current roster has? Sarver had enough trouble filling those spots the last time, this would make it tougher when they can least afford it.

    To me if one goes, they both need to go and let the new guy decide who he wants working for him. That includes Gentry, whom Sarver probably should protect from scapegoating thru season’s end and let a new regime decide his fate.

  • 23 bill.thomas // Jan 17, 2013 at 12:44 am

    Re: Babby & Blanks.

    Is assisted suicide an option?

  • 24 bill.thomas // Jan 17, 2013 at 12:48 am

    BTW, what is the law on that in AZ?

  • 25 bill.thomas // Jan 17, 2013 at 12:53 am

    @D-Breezy: Does something make you think Treloar is qualified for Blanks’ position? (I mean, something beyond the fact that someone as pathetic as Blanks has occupied it to this time).

  • 26 DBreezy // Jan 17, 2013 at 1:29 am

    @bill thomas,

    Nothing makes me think Treloar is qualified for Blanks or any other position. It was just some idle speculation on the how the front office positions/contracts were setup 3 years ago and why that may have been the case.

  • 27 bill.thomas // Jan 17, 2013 at 1:32 am

    @DBreezy: I don’t think there are any bus driver positions open with the local transportation authority anyway.

  • 28 bill.thomas // Jan 17, 2013 at 2:56 am

    But if there are bus driver positions open, I would very highly recommend Babby and Blanks and would even make a substantial donations to local charities to get them hired as bus drivers !!!!

  • 29 azbballfan // Jan 17, 2013 at 4:25 am

    hey Bill

    I think assisted suicide is illegal in Arizona

    im not a fan of babby, blanks or sarver

    from a basketball development prospective

    but if the Suns keep swinging and missing on draft picks the sword is gonna fall on someone

    The Suns have atleast 2 possibly 3 picks in this summers draft, if we dont get a slam dunk instant impact player in one of those 2 or 3 picks, i would be packing my bags if i was Babby, who i THINK is in the last year of his contract.

    At some point, even Sarver has to take off the “this is a playoff team’ glasses and see that not developing talent hurts the team, they dont win, and you put all your hopes on trades or free agency

    Free Agency isnt gonna be any good until atleast Summer 2014

    The Suns after February 1st need to play the young guys and start shipping out players who either dont want to be here or have value and are not in the future plans

    Which reminds me why didnt the Suns apply for a disabled player exception for Frye? that would theoretically give them more cap space to work with

    The Rockets got a disabled player exception a few years ago, and that was the season Yao Ming got hurt for the year after about a week.

    If your losing with your vets, you might as well turn it over to the future and built up trade value at the least

  • 30 Penny Hardaway // Jan 17, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Give Marshall a shot. He’ll make a great PG i’m telling you. He has vision just like Nash and can only get better.

  • 31 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 7:29 am

    @Penny – You’re right about one thing. Marshall certainly couldn’t get any worse.

  • 32 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Another thing I’m curious about:

    All you people saying, “I just don’t get all the love for Dragic from VotS and BSotS,” have you ever stopped to think that maybe you’re the one who is off-base?

    I went through a small, simple, but telling statistical endeavor to show that Dragic is not only the most consistent Phoenix Sun, he’s also the BEST Sun on a consistent basis. Now, I’m not surprised that the haters didn’t come back with actual data to refute that because said data doesn’t exist, but what exactly is it that everyone has against admitting they’re wrong? Tony made somewhat of an attempt to explain that Gortat would have better numbers if his usage was up (without actually providing any numbers. For instance, Gortat’s 2012-13 usage isn’t that far off from his 2010-11 usage as a Phoenix Suns, when he averaged 13 points per game on 0.1 more shots per game, not to mention 0.2 rebounds more in three fewer minutes). It’s not his usage that’s the problem. The problem is that he has only one skill, and that’s PnR. He doesn’t like to hustle, he doesn’t like to bang… he doesn’t like to be a big.

    I like Gortat. I really do. He’s a good player. He is also an extremely flawed player with a seemingly fragile mind and bricks for hands. I’m sorry, but if you can’t contribute to the game outside of the PnR, you can’t be considered better than a player who has higher efficiency ratings across the board.

    It’s a shame for Gortat that Dragic doesn’t like to run the PnR more. It’s a shame for Gortat that Gentry doesn’t like to utilize his players according to their strengths. But everyone else not catering to Gortat to boost his stats doesn’t magically make Gortat the best player on the team. If anything, it shows how incapable he is.

  • 33 Tim in BC // Jan 17, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Goran Dragic has always been one of my favourite players with the Suns and I was disappointed and angry when they traded him for Brooks (who was a bust and not likeable) While Dragon has had some bad games, he has also had some good ones and shows the promise and potential everyone hopes from him. While it might prove for interesting reading to compare him to the other great point guards from the past, I am not sure what good it does. Goran said from the outset that he is no Steve Nash and he is his own player. If the management surrounded him with some better players, he would start to show his true talent and potential (think how much better the Suns were when he was here before )

    I also think Goran is a really nice guy who want to help his team win games. Maybe he does need to acquire abit more “edge” or swagger but that will hopefully come in time. People need to give him a chance and not critisize him so harshly (and management needs to get some better players around him as well)

  • 34 Forever is2long // Jan 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Penny, I will respectfully disagree that Marshall will never be a great point guard because he has more holes in his game than attributes. If shooting was his only problem I would not be that concerned. He has terrible foot speed which prevents him from being a good penetrator on offense to create for his teammates and on defense it prevents him from keeping his man out of the paint. I seriously doubt he ever becomes an NBA starter. However I knew this before they drafted him and on the Coro message board the night of the draft I screamed do not draft Marshall whatever you do.

    As for Dragic, I think the jury is still out on him due to the lack of surrounding talent. His size and speed are good qualities for a point guard. However if he has too many more games of 3 assists or less, I have no doubt the Suns will start looking at Bledsoe with the Clippers as he will be a free agent I think next summer in 2014. That guy can flat out ball causing the Clippers not to miss a beat in the recent absence of Chris Paul while on the road.

    I have no idea why Dragic and Gortat do not play well together but they don’t and Gortat knows he will be playing elsewhere soon because of that and that he is in his prime and would like to play for a winner ( Suns do not qualify). Dragic did play well with Lopez which is why I wanted the Suns to trade Gortat and let Lopez be the everyday center. Lopez played really well last night against the Celtics where the Hornets on the road, broke the Celtics 6 game winning streak. The Hornets have a good rebuilding plan which obviously starts with having a good GM and front office (Suns need not apply).

    It is going to be painful watching more of Marshall in the upcoming weeks. I can only hope he shows enough that the Suns might be able to trade him for ANY 1st round pick but I doubt it. Well we get to see Henson tonight who was available when the Suns drafted Marshall.

  • 35 DBreezy // Jan 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

    @azbballfan,

    AFAIK the Suns can’t apply for a disabled player exception because they are not over the cap. You can’t increase the salary cap, but in certain cases you can you use exemptions to pay salary in excess of the cap. Seems like simply another shade of grey, but it is an important distinction. I believe teams can always sign vet min guys to fill out their roster, capped out or not. I think the disabled player exception simply allows a team to offer twice the min in order to find a replacement.

    The tough thing about Frye is going to be this summer. I have zero confidence that the Suns will know anything about his condition before the draft or free agency. Who knows when he’ll be cleared for basketball activity? He’s not going to play in summer league and it’s likely that his first real activity won’t be until the informal workouts startup in the late summer/fall. He’s not a free agent or about to be enter a contract year like Amar’e was in 2009 after he hurt his eye.

    IOW, he has no pressing reason to see anyone but his own docs before the Suns mandatory physical next fall. He doesn’t want to retire so why meet with team docs early? It could put him in a situation where they’re at odds over a medical retirement like the Blazers were with Roy a few years ago. Especially if it’s a new front office. It could also essentially cement his status as a deep bench player before he really gets a chance to get on the court and work himself into basketball shape and get his rhythm going.

    He may be nice and let the Suns get a good early look, but it’s not necessarily in his best interest so what do the Suns do then? Scola and Gortat will likely be trade bait. O’Neal may want to try and move onto a playoff squad after a solid season. Kieff has yet to show that he’s going to be anything more than a bench player. A lot of stuff for them to consider for draft and free agency time.

  • 36 Cody // Jan 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

    He has struggled lately and I think that’s more of the team running the offense through the high post and him just being used as a spot up shooter rather than a play maker, so he’s struggled in a way but I do think they should utilize the pnr more, they do with Scola because he can pop out and make a jumper but I think if they run more pnr with Gortat and Dragic, both those guys can start playing better, they got to build that chemistry, I mean he made Dalembert look really good last season, I just wanna see these guys play better, I don’t think we’re as bad as our record shows

  • 37 DBreezy // Jan 17, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Foreveris,

    On one of the various power rankings around the web, I read that a number of scouts were very down on Marshall’s play during his D league stint. So he’s going to have to play well and a lot to come close to meriting anything in a trade. If the more talented Dragic is struggling to create assists with this crew, how is Marshall going to do? Especially when the Suns are 24th in the league in pace.

    Marshall is an excellent passer, especially in the open court despite slow wheels. However since he cannot force the pace himself by pushing the ball like a Rondo or CP3. He has to operate kind of like an old Kidd or Nash who position themselves further up the court for outlet passes to get the break going. Kendall actually does a nice job of this for a young player, but unlike Kidd, Nash or a similarly poor shooter in John Wall he’s not a threat. Whereas you have to go and stop the ball early as a transition defender against those three because they will score on you (try stopping John Wall with a head of steam) Kendall you can sag off of.

    The draft is done and it’s not changing, but the thing I’m interested in seeing is whether or not Kendall gets it as far as how much work he needs to do. Right now I get the sense that he doesn’t. So if they don’t get him minutes soon, what’s likely to happen is Earl Clark 2.0. A year spent on the bench thinking the only reason you aren’t playing is because of vets, complete with half-ass off court work going into summer league and another rude awakening. The Suns know that that they’re unlikely to keep Telfair beyond this season anyway so let’s get the party rolling for next season’s likely backup.

  • 38 Forever is2long // Jan 17, 2013 at 11:48 am

    DBreezy, yeah I agree you have to get Marshall some minutes, I just do not think I have ever seen a point guard drafted in the lottery or anywhere in the 1st round with so many limitations. He is not really athletic, slow foot speed, bad defender and cannot shoot. I hope minutes improve his quality of play but I am not optimistic.

  • 39 Brent McDonald // Jan 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I wonder how many teams in the NBA Dragic could start for???? I bet it’s less than 50%. Heck, when I look at today’s suns team, I don’t think there is a player on the roster who would have started for the D’antoni Suns. Some might suggest Gortot could play Center and we could then slide Amare to PF. But there is no way I’d sit the Matrix (Shawn Mrion) in his prime to play Gortot. I’ve missed less than 5 Suns games each of the last 8 years. This year I can’t stand to watch.

  • 40 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Interesting that you attend/watch to many games, but you have never noticed the spelling of “Gortat.”

    According to PER, Goran is #16 in the league in PER. Last I checked, there were more than 16 teams in the NBA. Pretty sure somebody would want him starting for them. Smh.

  • 41 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    #16 in the league among PGs, of course. I guess I shouldn’t leave anything up to interpretation for those of you who have never looked at a statistic in your life.

  • 42 Brent McDonald // Jan 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    John, You may be able to spell Polish names properly, but your grammar and comprehension skills are lacking.

    I stated that Dragic would start for less than 50%. Since he is #16 and there are 30 teams…it appears that he WOULD start for less than half of the teams in the NBA.

    Oh, and don’t correct other peoples spelling on a sports page….it’s kind of dorky.

  • 43 Forever is2long // Jan 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Dbreezy,
    Regarding Earl Clark, i agree he may not have worked as hard as he could have perhaps due to being misguided but he had and has NBA skills should have made the Suns more patient. Watching him play very well for the Lakers and Lopez for the Hornets, makes me sick knowing we could have had both who are 25 or under and we have neither along with the fact we are about to lose Gortat. IMO Babby and Blanks may be the worst front office duo I recall seeing in a long time.

  • 44 Ty-Sun // Jan 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    With just a quick look at the other NBA teams, I think that Dragic could start for at least 10-12 and at least be as good if not better than their present starters. That certainly doesn’t imply that he’s a great PG by NBA standards but he’s not horrible as some people seem to think. Nash spoiled us! Get over it. Even some of the “better” PGs in the NBA are score first PGs. Is Dragic’s “problem” that he’s not getting enough assists or that he’s not scoring enough? High scoring PGs don’t lead the league in assists and PGs that give out a lot of assists don’t lead their teams in scoring.

    And for those of you who don’t think that Dragic is running enough PNR plays with Gortat, blame Gentry! Do you really believe that Dragic would simply ignore Gentry if he actually told him to run more PNRs with Gortat? I don’t.

    And on a different note, if the Suns actually do make a small “turnaround” this season and wind up drafting (again) somewhere between 10-15, I think they might be wise to take a long, hard look at Marcus Smart from OK State. He’s a 6-4 point guard but he’s a scoring PG that also plays good D. Pairing him with Dragic in the Suns’ backcourt might just work out great.

    Of course, Ben McLemore or Shabazz Muhammad would be my first two choices for the Suns to get out of the draft but both of them will probably be taken in the first 5 picks.

  • 45 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    “Oh, and don’t correct other peoples spelling on a sports page….it’s kind of dorky.”

    Did you already forget how you opened up your comment? Let me remind you.

    “John, You may be able to spell Polish names properly, but your grammar and comprehension skills are lacking.”

    Indeed.

    Btw, not that I need to make excuses because no one really cares about spelling on the internet, but I have an old keyboard with sticky T’s and S’s and I don’t proofread because, again, no one cares.

    You, however, claimed to have watched every game (minus a handful each year) for years, indicating you would have seen the word “Gortat” on around 150 different occasions (he’s played about 160 games in a PHX uniform over about two years). And that’s not even considering the number of times you have read the name in articles, reports, blogs, etc. Demonstrating ignorance of something you’ve seen likely hundreds, if not thousands, of times in your life isn’t a good way to demonstrate your intelligence.

    Also, you never even bothered to ask how many of those 15 PGs ahead of Dragic in PER actually start. You were a little hasty on your math.

    Finally, I’d just like to point out I’m not that big of a fan of Goran. There are a lot of reasons to think that he’s not that special. I think that’s what most of you are actually MEANING, but what you’re SAYING are far harsher criticisms than he actually deserves. The reason I usually end up defending people, rather than criticising (or rather, I just simply argue against certain points) is because of the amount of hyperbole I read from the commenters. If people could simply be level-headed and honest, I wouldn’t have a reason to comment.

  • 46 Tony // Jan 17, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    “All you people saying, ‘I just don’t get all the love for Dragic from VotS and BSotS,’ have you ever stopped to think that maybe you’re the one who is off-base?”

    No John, the very same people predicting the Suns would be a playoff bubble team before the season are the same ones with a tremendous affinity, bordering on worship, towards Dragic. Dragic’s only shooting 44.7% while averaging a paltry 6.1 assists per game. On top of that, he’s only shooting 71.1% from the FT line and 32.2% from three-point distance. For a guy who’s supposed to be the Suns best player, those are at best decent numbers.

    People with little to no understanding of basketball, i.e., you, fail to appreciate the intangibles of the game that are needed for a team to be successful in the NBA. Since all NBA players are obviously very good basketball players, it’s the mental aspect which separates the mediocre from the very good players. In particular, a pg’s primary responsibility is to lead his team’s offense and put his teammates in position to score. So far, Dragic simply has failed to do this. When he gets frustrated, he yells and chides his teammates, even though he’s the one to blame. On the rare occasion that Dragic uses pick-and-rolls with Gortat, most of the time he looks to attack the basket or settle for a shot. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, too much of this at the expense of getting his teammates opportunities to score leads to poor team chemistry.

    Nor does Dragic look to take over games in critical situations. He becomes far too passive in those circumstances and doesn’t demonstrate the leadership qualities that a successful starting pg should have.

    I could go on and on about Dragic’s lack of mental acquity, but it’s pointless to continue this discussion with someone who is so steadfast in his beliefs that he resists facts in favor of delusions.

  • 47 Ty-Sun // Jan 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    We are not about to loose Gortat. He is under contract through this season and the next. Yes, he turned down a contract extension offer this season and he has grumbled a bit about his role this season but that doesn’t mean the Suns are going to loose him… not for nothing. There’s a year and a half left for them to work something out… either a contract extension or a trade.

    As for Lopez, he was the Suns’ starting center for most of the season in 2010-11. He played poorly which was one of the reasons the Suns made the trade with Orlando that brought Gortat to the Suns. He played poorly as Gortat’s backup in 2011-12. The Suns had no reason to believe that he would be more than an expensive backup this season if they resigned him. In NO his averages are 11.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 1.8 bpg. Gortat’s averages are 11.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 1.9 bpg. I just don’t see how keeping Lopez instead of Gortat would have made the Suns a better team this year.

  • 48 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    “For a guy who’s supposed to be the Suns best player, those are at best decent numbers.”

    He is their best player, which is exactly the reason the Suns are an awful team.

    “When he gets frustrated, he yells and chides his teammates”

    I don’t need to go over this again, but just for the heck of it, go watch Chris Paul play a game. I’m not in any way comparing Dragic as a player to Paul as a player, but you act as if PG’s (or any leader) needs to be a teddy bear in order to be effective, which is simply false.

    “Nor does Dragic look to take over games in critical situations. He becomes far too passive in those circumstances and doesn’t demonstrate the leadership qualities that a successful starting pg should have. ”

    I agree with the first half of that statement, then you got into some nonsense about leadership again-not your strong suit.

    “I could go on and on about Dragic’s lack of mental acquity, but it’s pointless to continue this discussion with someone who is so steadfast in his beliefs that he resists facts in favor of delusions.”

    I think you believe you have far more insight to the intelligence (or “acquity”, as you so marvelously put it) than you actually do. I don’t see any reason to believe Dragic isn’t a smart player. He may not be all that good, but it’s completely off-base of you to claim that results from his lack of mental capacity. Anyway, I think I’ve demonstrated that if someone actually demonstrates having reasons, methods, or just plain common sense, I’m more than willing to change my ways or simply agree to disagree. Just ask SHAZAM or Sillmarillion, both of whom have witnessed that from me in the past few days. I don’t care to say “I’m wrong.” It’s not a bad thing to be wrong. Everyone is wrong sometimes. It’s the truly stupid people who fear being wrong so much that they refuse to admit when they are.

  • 49 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    @Ty-Sun

    I don’t think the argument is so much that Lopez would have made the Suns better this year (or at all, even). I think the argument is that he wouldn’t have made the Suns worse, and could have potentially given the Suns more in future while being on a smaller contract.

    Either way, both of them are only slightly-above-average players who will never be premier bigs in the NBA, so I didn’t really care which one the Suns ended up with (if it was only going to be one). I guess I would have preferred Gortat simply because he’d tie up the books for fewer years and possibly open the door sooner for a true game-changer.

  • 50 Ty-Sun // Jan 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Lol… it seems that everyone who disagrees with Tony has “little to no understanding of basketball”.

    Sorry, Tony but I’ve just heard that over and over again from you in post after post. It may actually be true but you have yet to tell us all which NBA team actually pays you to make use of your superior basketball knowledge? Enlighten us, please.

    I’m an amateur. No one pays me to hear my opinions about basketball. I post my opinions here but never assume I’m right and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong or has “little to no understanding of basketball”.

    I do sometimes think that other people have dumb opinions but I refrain from saying so. If I disagree, I give my reasons why without trying to disrespect them. I’m certain that I have not always accomplished that but I try.

    I didn’t write this post to try to offend you, Tony. If you take it as an insult, I apologize in advance.

  • 51 Ty-Sun // Jan 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    @john

    I agree. Gortat’s contract runs out next season but re-signing Lopez would have meant adding even more years of an even larger contract (for Lopez) to the Suns payroll and decreased their financial flexibility in the future.

  • 52 Forever is2long // Jan 17, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    IMO the jury is still out on Dragic but because of his size and speed he probably will not be the immediate focus of what the Suns need to do in the immediate future. I will say this, if he has too many more of the 3 assist games or less, Bledsoe with the Clippers might get some attention. Like everyone here, I would like to see Dragic with better players before being too conclusive.

    Regarding dragic and Gortat I agree that for whatever reason they do not have a good chemistry. I saw the Hornets game last night against Boston with R. Lopez playing very well in getting 17 points and 6 boards while altering shots in the paint. It reminded me of how well Lopez and Dragic played together. It was their chemistry on and off the court that made me want the Suns to keep Lopez

  • 53 DBreezy // Jan 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Foreveris,

    I hear you on Clark, we had those same discussions back over on the old AZC board. They never really gave him an honest shot. In a lot or respects they handled him the same way they did Goran and R.Lo, except those two were more fortunate that the Suns were thinner at those positions. I don’t have much faith in Marshall either. You know I wanted either Sullinger, Henson, or PJ3 out of who was available. I also could have lived with Terence Jones, Moultrie, and Teague or Wroten if they were that bent on drafting a pg. I felt if they wanted a pg, they should have made a trade to grab a second pick for one. For the 2nd year in a row, I felt that they were full of it on keeping R.Lo so why not cash him in for something on draft night?

    Now the more concerning thing to me is that the same team of geniuses will be allowed to make what could be a top-5 selection and that the same crew of people that haven’t developed any young player for ages is going to be left in charge of handling more young players.

  • 54 Forever is2long // Jan 17, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Ty-Sun,

    John’s point on Lopez IMO is accurate. I have never heard anyone say keeping Lopez would have made the Suns better this year. Lopez is 4 years younger and he accepted $5m/year to play for New Orleans. Therefore the Suns could have had a similar player to Gortat who was younger, cheaper and in my opinion one with a greater upside.

    Absolutely Lopez was horrible in 2010/2011 season. However that was the season after he was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back. The team confirmed in writing the summer of 2011, the herniated disc caused him to lose 8 inches of his vertical. Since he did not have surgery other than an injection, it took time to heal. Most Suns fans thought he was washed up and had written him off as a wasted draft pick. before Coro closed his message board I kept repeating the Suns will regret letting Lopez leave and keeping Gortat. Gortat will be seeking a much larger contract than the $5m/yr Lopez is getting. He currently earns $7m/yr. The Suns simply do not seem to get it whereas New Orleans fully understands the rebuild process as they focused getting a squad of players primarily 25 and younger. They let their veteran center Kaman walk as well as their veteran point guard and focused on youth. I think now their record is as good if not better than the Suns. New Orleans gets it.

  • 55 Forever is2long // Jan 17, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    DBreezy if we were in church I would be screaming Amen Brother at you.

  • 56 Ty-Sun // Jan 17, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Forever is2long

    Lopez might have been cheaper and younger than Gortat but I think the Suns weren’t willing to make the bet that he would fully recover from his back problems. A herniated disc is a severe problem and could be a reoccurring problem especially with someone as young as Lopez. I think that is at least part of the reason they decided to keep Gortat over Lopez. It’s a bet, good or bad, but it was a bet.

  • 57 Forever is2long // Jan 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Perhaps Ty-Sun but the Hornets were willing to take the gamble and right now they look like the smarter team. Instead we take a gamble on Gortat hoping he would be a fixture in Phoenix and he does not want to be in Phoenix. No decent front office can look this stupid can they? If Gortat was their future they should have inked him to an extension before deciding on Lopez. If he refused go with Lopez. Now it looks like they took a gamble that will likely net them zero at center. Lopez I do not think has missed a game in about 1 1/2 years. The Suns wanted to sign Lopez but Lopez wanted to be a starter so he encouraged the deal with New Orleans.

  • 58 Brent McDonald // Jan 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Keeping Gortat was a better option than Lopez who was an often injured, inconsistent head-case.

    Dragic is mediocre. Gortat, Brown and Scola are all mediocre. My favorite player right now is PJ Tucker because of his hustle, but he too is mediocre.

    I went to the game against Memphis a week ago and the arena was half empty and there was zero energy in the building. Nobody wants to watch a bunch of lazy bums collect millions for such pathetic efforts. I would be pissed if I had paid for those tickets.

    Most teams have guys like these on their roster to compliment their All Stars. We have a former All-Star in Jermain Oneal, but I doubt any of these other guys will ever earn that honor.

    Think about all the great players that USED to be on SUNS that are still in the league and you can see we have done a poor job of managing personnel. We need Colangelo back. Heck, maybe he could take over the Cardinals why he is at it.

  • 59 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    @Forever is2long

    “Now it looks like they took a gamble that will likely net them zero at center.”

    A different perspective might ask the question, “What’s better: having one bad center, having two bad centers, or having zero bad centers?”

    Now, if you don’t like the word “bad,” fill that blank in with an adjective of your choosing, but the point is that centers like Gortat and Lopez aren’t likely to be the starting centers on contending teams in the NBA. You could make the case that having NEITHER Gortat nor Lopez would actually improve the team’s chances in the future.

    That’s part of the reason I preferred Gortat over Lopez. Less years. I don’t believe either of those players is good enough to be the starting center on a great team, so why would I keep either of them?

    They got something for Lopez (a pick, iirc), and the final word on Gortat is yet to be had. But either way, even if the Suns let Gortat play out his entire contract, they will still have received his value on the court. The only time a team truly gets nothing from a player is when they don’t play.

  • 60 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    “Think about all the great players that USED to be on SUNS that are still in the league and you can see we have done a poor job of managing personnel.”

    Thinking… thinking… thinking…

    All of those players are grossly overpaid, past their primes, and doing nothing significant whatsoever. Seems like the Suns might have made the right calls when they let those guys go, to me.

  • 61 Brent McDonald // Jan 17, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    All????

    If you are talking Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick, Marcus Banks or Josh Childress then I agree with you John.

    Conversely a lot of guys have had outstanding years after leaving Phoenix…. Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Jason Kid, Jason Richardson.

    The final word is still out on Amare, Nash and HIll. Perhaps it was the right time to let them move on?

    There are a lot of other decent guys who might have been helpful to have around a little longer like Kurt Thomas, Vince Carter, Barbosa, Borris Diaw.

  • 62 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    That’s all fine and dandy if you want to pretend the Suns could have managed to pay $125M in salaries.

    Btw, just a look at a few of those guys you mentioned…

    Shawn Marion’s highest PER since Phoenix was 17. He’s carved out a nice niche for himself as a good defender who can give some garbage buckets to a good team. I loved the Matrix in PHX, and he was one of my favorite players to watch, but he’s been far from great in his time away from the Valley. His last great season was his last season in PHX. Right time to move on.

    Joe Johnson has a career PER of 16.4 and a career WS/48 under 0.100 (average). His career Rtg is negative (higher DRtg than ORtg), and his best seasons as a pro from an efficiency standpoint were good, albeit not as good as you might expect for someone in his salary range. His max PER was 19.5 and his max WS/48 was 0.145. Meanwhile, he has been paid an average of $10M annually to be an average NBA player for his career. Joe Johnson is one of the posterboys for overpaid NBA players, in my opinion. Right time to move on.

    Jason Kidd. He was absolutely fantastic in NJ. You’ll get no argument from me there. I never wanted to get rid of Kidd. But, as I’m sure you remember, that had nothing to do with the current ownership group. You want Colangelo back? He was the one that shipped Kidd off.

    Jason Richardson has had PER’s of 13.3 and 13.2 since leaving Phoenix. His WS/48 numbers for each season were .084 and .070. He has been well below average in both of those metrics. He made $14.4M last year. This year, he has been bumped down to about $5.4M, but that’s still overpaid, if you ask me. I might rather have a $5.4M Jason Richardson than a $3.5M Shannon Brown, but who really cares when you’re talking about two bad players?

    Amar’e, I guess he could possibly make a comeback, but he has definitely not even been a shadow of his PHX self since leaving the Valley. Final season in PHX, WS/48 of 0.181 and PER of 22.6. Even in his first season in NY, where the perception was that he was still a star, his PER was 22.7 and his WS/48 was 0.134. This year he’s at a PER of 12.5 and a WS/48 of 0.076. Yikes. Right time to move on, in my opinion.

    Nash, I think it’s a toss-up. “Why keep him?” is the real question that should be asked about Nash. What purpose would it have served? He’s maybe marginally better than Dragic (just depends on if you want defense or offense, really), but Nash wasn’t going to bring this team back to contention. Right time to move on, in my opinion.

    Hill wasn’t even good in his last two seasons in Phoenix. He provided a couple of defensive gems here or there, but his complete lack of production on the offensive side of the floor killed the team’s hopes of winning anything. Even WS/48, which rewards defensive efforts moreso than PER, had Hill at 0.087 and 0.055 in his last two seasons in PHX. Meanwhile his PER was 14.7 in 2010-11 and 12.3 in 2011-12. Why would you want that player on your team, especially when he won’t be a part of the team when the rebuild is finally complete (assuming the FO doesn’t screw it up)? Right time to move on.

    Kurt Thomas would have essentially cost the team something like $17M to keep (due to luxury taxes), which is why he was given away in the first place. Would you want to pay Kurt Thomas $17M? I liked him. I thought he was a good piece to a winning formula, but the Suns did just fine once he was gone too. Right time to move on.

    Vince Carter didn’t play when he was here. Blame it on whatever you want, but he was AWFUL in PHX. His PHX PER was 14.2 and his WS/48 was 0.060. Not only that, but he hasn’t gotten better since leaving. 2011-12 PER was 13.6 and his WS/48 was 0.090. 2012-13 PER is 15.5 and his WS/48 is 0.096. He’s an average player, so why is it so critical that the Suns should have hung on to him? He’s not good. Right time to move on.

    Barbosa’s best season after PHX (minus this season in BOS where he’s getting 10 minuts per game) – PER of 15.3 and WS/48 of 0.053 or PER of 13.4 and WS/48 of 0.076, depending on which metric you value more. Either way, he’s been average or slightly below average since leaving. In Phoenix, his PER was 19.4 and his WS/48 was 0.141. So, again, it seems like the Suns dumped him at the perfect time. Right time to move on.

    Boris Diaw’s PER over the past four seasons – 12.8, 13.9, 11.2, 12.6. He was never a good player to begin with. I’m really not sure why he would ever be mentioned in a list like this. PLUS he’s making $9M per year. You want to pay $9M for below-average production? You’re not going to get very far as an executive if you make moves like that. Right time to move on.

    I know a lot of you don’t like stats for whatever reason, but the truth is that they don’t lie. Good teams will have players with high PER and high WS/48. If a team’s players have earned a combined 50 win shares in a season, you can bet your lunch money that team will have 50 wins +/- 5-10%. Stats work, and every stat imaginable will tell you that the Suns sold high on virtually every player that got shipped out of Phoenix in the past decade (they’ve also bought low on quite a few too, so I’m not trying to say the FO has done a good job overall). Arguing that the Suns should have kept players past their useful lives is just… silly.

  • 63 Ty-Sun // Jan 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Paying Joe Johnson and Amare what they wanted to stay in Phoenix just wasn’t worth it. Just ask Atlanta and NY. Amare looked great in his first year in NY but now they are trying desperately to trade his bloated contract away. And Atlanta was delirious to trade Joe Johnson to Brooklyn. Brooklyn took him and his bloated contract to please D-Will. I agree that the Suns should have not let Shawn Marion get away though.

  • 64 john // Jan 17, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Fyi, the reason I posted that ridiculous diatribe above wasn’t to prove I’m right, it was simply to prove that there is at least some reason to contend that the FO didn’t blow every single one of those transactions.

    I think the front office of the Suns has been bad for the past 15 years, but it’s not for the reasons that most Suns fans would like to think.

    And I also would like to point out that there is often a difference between making good decisions and seeing good results. Just throwing it out there.

  • 65 foreveris2long // Jan 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    This might be the most pathetic roster in the NBA. If you put Gortat on Miami or OKC, both teams will be better and whichever team acquired him would likely win it all. Both teams could use a center who could score a few points a night.

  • 66 DBreezy // Jan 18, 2013 at 1:28 am

    Foreveris,

    On R.Lo, I still think it’s pretty much what I said over on AZC back in the day. He had a rough year for whatever reason in 2010-2011. Unfortunately for him that occurred under a front office that didn’t draft him and who made their signature move to date of bringing in Gortat at his position. Alvin really gave him a lot of rope, starting him even when he was in a funk and Gortat was clearly playing better and for more minutes, but his inability to respond to that challenge sealed the deal for him with this front office. It absolutely could have been the back, but that wasn’t a concern to them. They were done with him after that season, you could see it, and that’s why I kept advocating moving him in a draft day trade. Obviously we don’t own/run the team, so if they’ve come to that conclusion it’s no longer about his play but what’s the best thing they can get for him. That’s why I never entered the debates on his play on AZC during his last season here. I knew he was a dead man walking to Lance and Lon.

  • 67 From_MileHigh // Jan 18, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Poor beloved Suns! Sad to see how far theyve fallen.

  • 68 From_MileHigh // Jan 18, 2013 at 8:52 am

    There is no comparison with Dragic to past Suns PGs. Thanks to the supposed general, the season has downtrodden low enough competing with the lichen kingdom by now…so lets see what they have in Marshall.

  • 69 JO // Jan 23, 2013 at 1:54 am

    I remember when Rubio said, Boy I was glad when Beasley left, All beasley does is dance and sing about how they get millions to ball and winning aint for him! Well man Gragic and Gortat like wins, then Wes Jo and BEaz, cancer it over to Cannon Brown and other youngins, Ill be on bench rest of season with a towel on my head JO

  • 70 JO // Jan 23, 2013 at 1:55 am

    and what I meant to say was Gragic http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1479925-goran-dragic-rips-phoenix-suns-teammates-says-they-dont-care is already fed up with em, cant make players look good when they dont even want to be on the court.

  • 71 Ben Shockley // Jan 26, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Mr. Petersen,

    … nice post, but allow me a few points of critique.

    1) Saying that K.J.’s game suffered from “horrendous” three-point shooting is very misleading. Yes, K.J. only shot better than 22.2% on threes in two full seasons, but he only averaged more than 0.58974359 three-point field goal attempts in two seasons! And as a point guard, a disproportionate amount of those limited three-point attempts constituted desperation heaves to beat a shot clock or an end-of-quarter game clock, not situations where he was really shooting threes by choice or receiving legitimate looks.

    And the reason for K.J. hardly ever attempting threes was not because he couldn’t hit one. After all, K.J. shot 2-3 on threes in the 1989 Western Conference Finals (the one miss rimmed out on Phoenix’s final possession of the series), 3-5 on threes in the 1992 Western Conference Semifinals, and 5-10 on threes in the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals. In fact, in that series versus Houston, K.J. hit more threes (5) than he had in the entire ’94-’95 regular season (4). Also, in 14 playoff games versus the Rockets over the 1994 and 1995 postseason, K.J. shot .421 (8-19, 1.27 FGA) on threes, meaning that when he looked for the shot more often and shot more “legitimate” threes as opposed to desperation threes, he could hit.

    But usually, K.J. possessed no reason to look for the three. First, when he entered the NBA in 1987, the three-pointer amounted to the purview of a few specialists, and even they didn’t shoot that many threes for the most part. In his first few years in the NBA, even Larry Bird didn’t shoot many threes (and as a result, he usually did not shoot them at an efficient rate), for most players were not oriented or accustomed to being three-point shooters. So you have to keep the era in mind and not apply today’s norms to the league of twenty or twenty-five years ago.

    Second, K.J. didn’t need to shoot threes because aside from Michael Jordan, he was probably better than anyone in the NBA (perhaps better than anyone in NBA history) at getting to any spot on the floor that he wanted off the dribble, creating space for his jump-shot, and rising up to pop it with a quick release. As Seattle’s Nate McMillan said in 1994, K.J. didn’t shoot threes, but he could bury 18-20-foot jumpers all night. Really, K.J. constituted a major shooting threat anywhere within the arc and he was one of the best off-the-dribble shooters in NBA history (Steve Nash may be the best). Houston’s Mario Elie stated during the 1994 playoffs that in his opinion, even John Stockton couldn’t shoot as well as Kevin Johnson. And since K.J. could slip into his sweet spots so easily and consistently and shoot so fluidly off the dribble, there was little incentive to shoot threes. For if K.J. was shooting threes, he was eliminating his off-the-dribble game inside the arc, where options proliferate. If K.J. was penetrating off the dribble inside the arc, the following possibilities emerged.

    A) He could set up a teammate for an easy shooting opportunity, which was perhaps his primary goal and an area where he excelled as well as anyone in the league, with the possible exception of Magic Johnson.

    B) He could explode to the rim to score.

    C) He could draw a foul and reach the free throw line while putting individual defenders in foul trouble and team defenses in the foul penalty. Indeed, K.J. could generate many “old fashioned” three-pointers via the “and one,” while also saddling the defense with fouls, another reason not to shoot threes. And at the foul line, the shooting team can set up its defense by carefully matching up.

    D) If none of the first three options materialized, K.J. always possessed the pull-up jump shot in his back pocket. But if he failed to penetrate past the three-point line, then he was probably foreclosing the first three options. Therefore, for a player with so many offensive virtues, one who could slip into his sweet spots so easily and shoot off the dribble so dynamically, there was little incentive for him to shoot threes. The incentive is going to be greater for a guy like Dragic, who isn’t as quick and whose shooting form is more mechanical.

    Most of all, though, when K.J. actually attempted to shoot threes on even a semi-regular basis, he proved to be above-average and then elite. In ’95-’96, K.J. for the first time averaged as many as 1.0 three-point field goal attempts per contest and shot 36.8421053% on threes, slightly better than the rest of the NBA, which shot 36.6957903%. Then in ’96-’97, K.J. proved elite at shooting threes, connecting at a 44.1% clip (in 2.9 FGA per game), good for third in the entire NBA, trailing only Glen Rice and Steve Kerr and finishing directly ahead of Joe Dumars, Mitch Richmond, Reggie Miller, and Dell Curry. In fact, K.J. became the first player in NBA history to rank in the top three in both assists per game and three-point field goal percentage in the same season (John Stockton would become the second in 2001 and Steve Nash would become the third in 2007 and 2008), a testament to his skill level off the dribble.

    Overall, K.J. shot a combined 42.5% on threes over a span of 127 games covering the ’95-’96 and ’96-’97 regular season (in 2.1 attempts per contest). Aided by his three-point shooting, he thus ranked tenth in the NBA in True Shooting Percentage (the best measure of scoring efficiency) in ’95-’96 at .617 and fourth in ’96-’97 at a whopping .631. In fact, over his last 55 games of the ’96-’97 season (K.J. started slowly because double-hernia surgery wiped out his training camp and preseason and then caused him to miss the first 11 games of the regular season), the Phoenix point guard shot .449 on threes and posted a stunning .660 True Shooting Percentage.

    If you want to expand the sample even further, from the start of the 1995 playoffs on April 28, 1995, through November 4, 1997, encompassing all regular season and playoff games during that stretch, K.J. (over a span of about two and a half years) shot 40.468% on threes (121-299). If you want to expand the sample further still, from April 10, 1994, through November 4, 1997, encompassing all regular season and playoff games during that stretch, K.J. (over a span of about three and a half years) shot 38.529% on threes (131-340) over 212 games (regular season and postseason), an average of 1.6 three-point attempts per contest. In other words, when K.J. was looking to shoot threes and averaging more than 0.59 attempts per game, he proved to be a very good three-point shooter, sometimes one of the best in the entire NBA. The issue is simply that for most of his career, he did not look to shoot threes because he did not need to shoot them. Dragic, like most point guards nowadays, is much more of a three-point shooter, but his higher volume isn’t necessarily an asset because over the last two seasons, he has been a below-average three-point shooter (.337 last season, .321 at the time that I write this season), while averaging 3.4 attempts per game. Just because Dragic jacks up a lot more attempts, on average, than Kevin Johnson used to doesn’t mean that Dragic is helping the Suns. To the contrary, K.J.’s philosophy wherein he either did not shoot threes or shot them at an above-average or elite rate rendered him far more efficient. He would either help the Suns by making three-pointers or he would avoid attempting three-pointers, but K.J. was almost never going to hurt the Suns in that area. Dragic, in contrast, is liable to hurt as much as help, but again, since he isn’t as quick as K.J. and he isn’t nearly as fluid a shooter off the dribble, he doesn’t enjoy the luxury of being able to stop-and-pop inside the arc at will.

  • 72 Ben Shockley // Feb 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Oh, and in 183 regular season games from April 10, 1994, through November 4, 1997, Kevin Johnson shot 40.476% on threes (119-294, 1.6 FGA). So once more, the issue was not that Kevin Johnson could not shoot threes (again, he ranked third in three-point field goal percentage in the entire NBA in ’96-’97, trailing only Glen Rice and Steve Kerr and placing directly ahead of Joe Dumars, Mitch Richmond, Reggie Miller, and Dell Curry), but rather that he did not need to shoot threes and thus almost never did so for the bulk of his career. Kevin Johnson constituted a much more fluid shooter than the more mechanical Goran Dragic and he reached the free throw line far more often, so operating inside the arc on a constant basis made sense for Johnson. Since he could create space for his jumper anywhere, he didn’t need to use the three-point arc as a spatial crutch.

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