Handing out Phoenix Suns Team Awards Through the Season's First Quarter
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The Phoenix Suns have finished the first quarter of the season and it's time to hand out the team awards.
So far, record wise, the season has been a disappointment for Suns fans and right about where critics saw it.
Players like Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat have been bright spots on the team but have they been good enough to win a team award?
It's safe to say Dragic and Gortat each deserve one of the four team awards that I will give out.
Read on to see who gets the four team awards (MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year) for the Phoenix Suns after the quarter mark of the season.
Most Improved Player: P.J. Tucker
P.J. Tucker has clearly earned his spot in the rotation
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P.J. Tucker came into the season as a potential bench warmer and played his way to a serious role player.
Tucker's combination of defense and hustle make him a valuable glue guy and his offensive game is consistently improving.
Tucker's suffocating defense has proven to be extremely valuable to the Phoenix Suns and has earned him crunch time minutes in close games.
For a guy few expected to get minutes, Tucker has really impressed and should only see more playing time.
With the way Michael Beasley is playing, it wouldn't surprise me if Tucker saw time in the starting lineup.
Sixth Man of the Year: Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris has taken a key jump from his rookie season
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It's not easy being a sixth man and it's even more difficult on a team like this year's Phoenix Suns squad.
The starting lineup has greatly fluctuated, as seven different guys have all started 10 or more games. This is an abnormally high number for a team that has been, for the most part, healthy.
Markieff Morris is one of those guys who has started over 10 games (11 to be exact) but has played more games on the bench. Thus he qualifies for the sixth man of the year award.
Morris hasn't seen a huge increase in his playing time or his statistics, but has worked hard on being a more efficient player.
His rookie 39.9 percent FG and 34.7 three-point percent were decent, but a big man of his skill should be shooting better.
Fast forward to his stat line this season, and his 42.9 FG percent and 39.0 three-point percentage are much better indicators of his talent level.
As a sixth man, Morris provides a solid offense game and someone who can provide a lot of what Channing Frye did last season.
Defensive Player of the Year: Marcin Gortat
Marcin Gortat (left) has proven to be a capable defensive anchor
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When Steve Nash was traded, it was expected that Marcin Gortat would see a dip on the offensive end.
However, Gortat has seen his rebounding numbers dip over the past couple weeks, as subpar performances have hurt him.
That being said, he is still the team's best individual defender and a solid rim protector for the Phoenix Suns.
Gortat's 1.9 blocks per game are good enough for 11th in the NBA and are crucial for a team that is toward the bottom in the league of opponents points, field-goal percentage and three-point percentage.
It's fair to say his solid numbers will improve as soon as Gortat's minutes start consistently going back up to the 32-34 range.
MVP: Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic has risen above his teammates as the best Phoenix Suns player so far this season
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Goran Dragic has been the best player on this year's Phoenix squad, and it's really not even close.
The Dragon is averaging 15.0 PPG, 6.4 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 46.2 FG%, 74.5 FT% and 35.4 3PT%.
Dragic is having a career year in four of those categories (points, rebounds, assists and steals), proving that he was well worth the contract Phoenix gave him this offseason.
There were questions about if Dragic could consistently produce as a starting point guard but, so far, Dragic has silenced the critics with his performance.
Don't be surprised to see Dragic elevate his game to another level as the season progresses.