Stats: | 6.4 MPG | 2.3 PPG | 1.2 RPG | 0.3 APG | 0.1 SPG | 35.5 FG% | 29.0 3P% |
Often taken for granted, Dionte Christmas is known to many as the guy who sits at the end of the bench and rarely plays. However, Christmas is so much more than a seasonal rarity. Since playing at Temple, Christmas has moved around to Israel, Turkey, Greece, Russia, and Italy, before finally settling in Phoenix, and in his first season, he had a much greater role on the team than the numbers suggest.
Dionte Christmas started off the year with a fairly successful stint in the NBA’s Summer League, averaging 10.1 points and 2.7 rebounds, in 20.9 minutes per game. Christmas’ performance was enough to earn him a spot on the Suns’ roster, and he really did serve a purpose on the team when all was said and done. In addition to always being there to support the players when they came out of the game, Christmas filled in and provided some valuable minutes when needed, and he even played 10-or-more minutes six times throughout the year.
While Dionte Christmas didn’t play much during the regular season, he still managed to rack up a few nice performances. Everyone remembers Bledsoe’s remarkable game winner against Utah, but what is often forgotten is that Christmas logged some very valuable minutes in that game. Christmas came off the bench and scored nine points in fifteen minutes, and he also grabbed five rebounds (check out some of the highlights here). Christmas’ plus/minus of +17 led all players, and he was even on the court for the final offensive possession of the game (when Bledsoe hit the game-winning three-pointer).
While he wasn’t really able to show it this year, Dionte Christmas’ best asset is his ability to stretch the floor with his shooting. In Christmas’ last three seasons of college, he averaged 19.7 points per game, with 9.2 of those points coming on three-pointers. Additionally, Christmas led the Temple Owls to two NCAA Tournament appearances when he was an upper classman, meaning that Christmas is capable of shouldering a larger role.
One area that Christmas really worked on developing was his shot selection. When Christmas was able to play five-or-more minutes in a game (and therefore was able to develop a rhythm), he shot over 41% from the field, in addition to shooting above 35% from beyond the arc; both of those numbers were substantially higher than his season averages.
Dionte Christmas has a few key areas that he can improve in, but one of the things he really needs to work on is his passing ability. Christmas only averaged 0.3 assists per game, and his average of 1.6 assists per 40 minutes was tied for 357th in the NBA this year (and 89th out of all shooting guards). Additionally, Christmas will have to continue to progress as a defender if he is going to take on a bigger role with the team (or any team for that matter).
Future with the Team:
Christmas is signed through next season, although his spot on the team may be in jeopardy considering that the Suns will have a minimum of three draft picks this season. However, Christmas’ pure scoring ability may be enough for him to stick around for a little while longer, especially considering his ultra-professional attitude, in interacting with both the team and the fans.