Phoenix Suns Report Card: Grades for All Key Players Through First Quarter
The quarter mark of the season is upon us and it's once again time for player grades. The Phoenix Suns have gone 6-10, which is just about where most people seemed to envision the Suns.
Through the first month of the season, several players have played great for the team and others have not played so hot. Immediately, names like Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris come up for great play, while Robin Lopez and Channing Frye come off as disappointing.
Read on for player grades for all the key players on the Phoenix Suns and how they have fared since my last player grades.
Hakim Warrick, Grade C+
Previous Grade: B+
Hakim Warrick started off the season strong, as he played a key role in several games and was counted on to score off the bench. That was before he saw his playing time decrease dramatically, and his production followed suit.
Warrick has not played more than 16 minutes in a game in almost two weeks and didn't even play in the game against Boston last week.
Warrick certainly hasn't played poorly when given the chance, but his decrease in minutes is a testament to rookie Markieff Morris. Warrick and the later-mentioned Channing Frye have both suffered minutes-wise because of Morris.
Jared Dudley, Grade C
Previous Grade: B-
Jared Dudley was slotted to take over the starting shooting guard role for Vince Carter but has since struggled to gain a rhythm so far this season. Dudley is back with the second unit and isn't finishing games anymore.
Dudley can't seem to string together consecutive solid games and has seen his minutes cut in half the last couple games.
The demotion back to the bench might be the best move for Dudley, as he can focus on being effective for smaller stretches at a time and leading the bench players.
Markieff Morris, Grade B+
Previous Grade: A
Markieff Morris started the season strong and has since cooled off in the past couple games. Even with play being subpar lately, he has still proven huge for the team and even earned himself the starting power forward spot.
His rebounding and toughness is exactly what this Phoenix team needs and I see no reason why Channing Frye's minutes won't decrease more, unless Frye improves his shooting stroke.
Morris will only see his minutes rise as the season continues because of his solid defense and reliable shooting stroke from downtown. Morris looks to be one of the future centerpieces for the franchise and he has been playing like it so far this season.
Grant Hill, Grade B
Previous Grade: B-
Grant Hill started out the season a little slow and looked tired early. The answer to his sluggish start was uncertain at first, until news of offseason knee surgery surfaced.
Hill since sat out a game against the New Jersey Nets and his play has improved dramatically since then. His play the last couple games is really encouraging, as his offense is starting to catch up with his defense.
Expect Hill and his offense to only get better as his knee strengthens. Hill has had a brilliant season defensively, as Kobe Bryant is the only one to succeed consistently when guarded by Hill.
Ask Gerald Wallace, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce how good a defender Grant Hill is.
Channing Frye, Grade C-
Previous Grade: D+
Channing Frye has been thoroughly unimpressive so far this season and, apart from four solid games, he has provided little to the team. He even has lost his starting power forward spot to rookie Markieff Morris.
Frye can't seem to find a rhythm and has drastically seen his importance to the team decline. The only way to break out of a funk for a guy like Frye who relies so heavily on his three-point shot, is to practice shooting. There's really nothing else he can do.
For Phoenix's sake, Frye needs to return to his prior form. He means so much to the team and gives the team a deadly shooting power forward combo with Markieff Morris.
Marcin Gortat, Grade A
Previous Grade: C+
Marcin Gortat started out the season average, but his play since then has dramatically improved. Once the splint came off his broken thumb, his offensive numbers began to rise and his rebounding followed.
Gortat has emerged as a premier scoring threat down low with his new post moves and a defensive force, as he can block most shots in his area. He's definitely a big reason why the Suns can afford to score only 79 points and still beat the Boston Celtics.
He has eight double-doubles in his last 10 games and has been the Suns' leading scorer in most of those games. I fully expect Gortat to continue to play this well and maybe even be in consideration for an All-Star spot.
Shannon Brown, Grade B-
Previous Grade: C
Shannon Brown started his time as a Phoenix Sun very cautiously but really seems to be coming into his own as of late. Brown was a big-time signing for the team and is finally starting to play like it.
Brown has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 13 games and emerged as the go-to scorer off the bench. Brown's development with the offense could be key, as the bench unit has struggled to find reliable scoring.
I really wouldn't be surprised if Brown took over the starting shooting guard spot, but I think Brown fits best on the bench unit.
Ronnie Price, Grade B-
Previous Grade: Incomplete
Ronnie Price has worked his way in to the starting lineup, taking Jared Dudley's spot at shooting guard. Price gives the Sun a smart defender capable of guarding most point guards and shooting guards and someone who can spark a run with that defense.
Price was merely the backup point guard until his defense sparked easy offense, which is exactly what the team needs. Look for Price to take advantage of all the easy looks Nash creates and continue his solid play.
Robin Lopez, Grade C-
Previous Grade: B
Robin Lopez had a dynamic opening game and has since gone cold, much to the dismay of Phoenix fans. Lopez still cannot perform consistently in his limited minutes and it looks more and more likely he might not be around in the desert beyond this year.
Lopez seemed to have his athleticism back, but his confidence hasn't followed. He usually plays around 10 minutes a game and isn't fully incorporated in to the team. That is more a byproduct of the brilliant play of Marcin Gortat than anything else, though.
Lopez really needs more minutes to make a difference, but I highly doubt that will happen as long as Gortat continues to play at a high level.
Steve Nash, Grade A
Previous Grade: A
He is leading the league in assists with over 10 a game and, along with Marcin Gortat, is among the leading scorers on the team. Nash seems to have a little pep in his step and opposing teams don't like that.
Nash continues to be the heart and soul of this Phoenix team, as they go as he goes. Look for Nash to continue his increased scoring and make a strong push for an All-Star spot.