COMMENTARY | The Phoenix Suns have nobody to blame but themselves for a horrid 2012-13 season that was the second worst in team history (25-57). It would be easy to give everyone a failing grade, but there were some bright spots that deserve recognition. Management and coaches can only do so much to help, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the players. Let's take a look at the organization and give them their final grades.
Robert Sarver, Lon Babby and Lance Blanks - Grade: D
From a front office standpoint, the 2012-13 season was a mixed bag. The combination of Sarver, Babby and Blanks were responsible for acquiring talent and ultimately, for the composition of the roster. There were some highs, with Luis Scola and Jermaine O'Neal being brought in. Unfortunately, the lows were much worse, with Michael Beasley getting a three-year deal and Kendall Marshall being a remarkable bust at No. 13 in the 2012 NBA draft.
Alvin Gentry - Grade: C-
Lindsey Hunter - Grade: D
While it's the coaches job to get the most out of the roster, one can't be too hard on Gentry and Hunter considering what they had to work with. Phil Jackson couldn't have coached this team to the playoffs. Still, Gentry went just 13-28, with Hunter going 12-29. At the end of the season, the players weren't even listening to Hunter during timeouts. At least the players gave Gentry their respect and attention.
Michael Beasley - Grade: F
Arguably the most naturally talented offensive player on the roster and indisputably the biggest disappointment. Beasley had his moments, including scoring over 20 points on 12 different occasions. He also scored under nine points a remarkable 39 times. He was routinely disinterested on the bench and the dialogue of "he'll come around" is getting awfully tiring.
Shannon Brown - Grade: D
Brown had a lot of similarities to Beasley during the 2012-13 season. Both found themselves going from big minutes to riding the end of the bench. Where Beasley was often one of the first to leave practice, it was Brown hanging around getting extra work in. That didn't help his game though, as he shot just 27.7 percent from the 3-pt line and played a total of 189 minutes in the last three months of the season.
Goran Dragic - Grade: B+
If you didn't get a chance to watch the Suns on a regular basis, you missed out on one of the most underrated point guards in the whole league. He's extremely tough, an above-average playmaker and a terrific finisher. In April, he averaged 17.4 points and 9.4 assists with a shooting line of .472/.409/.829. Above all else, he's very mature and understands basketball, as he showed in this interview.
Jared Dudley - Grade: B
There's a reason why Dudley has been named in so many trade rumors over the past few seasons. He's a hard worker, does all the little things right and can shoot. His 39.1 percent from the 3-pt line led the team. Is Dudley the most athletic guy on the team? His 10 dunks on the season would say no. Does he have the greatest heart and desire? That's a possibility.
Diante Garrett - Grade: D-
In limited time, Garrett showed no ability to score or shoot, but he was fair as a passer. In the NBA, especially against the second and third units that Garrett was facing, that's just not good enough. The Suns were 3-16 in games he appeared in. Just one of those games (eight point loss to Orlando) was decided by single digits. If he can't perform against the scrubs, he's going to have a really hard run against the regulars.
Marcin Gortat - Grade: C
Gortat is example "A" for the difference between having Steve Nash as your point guard as opposed to anyone else. His numbers dropped across the board from 2011-12 to 2012-13, including his efficiency rating plummeting from 21.2 to 15.4. Why? Because Nash got him easier shots. Gortat isn't well suited to create his own shot. In addition, he rebounded at the poorest rate of his career (9.9 per-36 minutes). 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks isn't horrible, but it is mediocre.
Hamed Haddadi - Grade: D
As a midseason acquisition, Haddadi didn't have a ton of time to gel with the team. He could be seen working on his footwork by playing soccer at practice or putting in extra work with Ralph Sampson before games. He gets points for effort, but he was painstakingly slow and was remarkably prone to fouls. In short spurts, he could block shots and plug up the lane, so I guess there's something to like.
Wesley Johnson - Grade: D+
To succeed in the NBA, one has to be really good either offensively or defensively. There are a select few who are good at both. Johnson is known as a defender, yet he had one of the worst defensive ratings on the team (110). His 10.3 PER left a lot to be desired offensively. He started shooting better late in the season from the 3-pt line, but even that got him to just 32.3 percent.
Kendall Marshall - Grade: F
If there's a shining light for Marshall, it's going to be that Austin Rivers was taken in front of him and was even worse. To say that Marshall had a bad season would be rude to the term "bad season". He shot poorly (37.1 percent from the field), often made the wrong decision with his passes that resulted in turnovers and routinely slowed down the fast break, much to coach Hunter's chagrin.
Marcus Morris - Grade: D
Morris came over from the Houston Rockets during the season and looked like he was going to be a major contributor. He shot 38.1 percent from the 3-pt line with Houston and even looked good during his first few weeks with the Suns. Then, the wheels totally fell off. Morris feuded with the coaches and stunk up the joint over the last 17 games that he played. His shooting line during those games was a ghastly .367/.154/.308.
Markieff Morris - Grade: C+
Would the Suns have been happy with 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.5 blocks per game out of Morris? Absolutely. Would they get excited about a shooting line of .461/.650/.917? Extremely. That's exactly what Morris put up in April, where he started all eight games. He started slow but once he got opportunities and became more aggressive, he became quite a player.
Jermaine O'Neal - Grade: C+
Veteran leadership was what O'Neal was supposed to bring to the team. He did, including his mentoring of the Morris twins. It just wasn't enough to improve the team. O'Neal defended the rim like he used to during an eight game stretch in February where he averaged 12.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and two blocks per game. Then, age caught up with him again and he got injured. His 2.7 blocks per-36 minutes was the second highest rate of his career.
Luis Scola - Grade: B-
When the Suns were awarded Scola via the amnesty auction they were overjoyed. Scola appeared in all 82 games for the Suns and averaged 12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He was substandard defensively, but the Suns knew what they were getting. At $13.5 million over three years, Scola is a huge bargain. It's just too bad the Suns are heavy at power forward and he can't defend at the center spot.
P.J. Tucker - Grade: B-
Winner of the Dan Majerle "Hustle" award, Tucker was a pleasant surprise because of his heart and determination. His skills will never rival the top half of the NBA, but his aggressiveness and unwavering desire to do the dirty work will keep him on someone's roster. He did shoot 47.3 percent from the field, so he really wasn't all that bad.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers Phoenix Suns practices and games for the site he founded, HoopsHabit.com.
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