Bright Side's Suns Summer Report Card

PHOENIX - OCTOBER 19: Goran Dragic #2 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the preseason NBA game against the Golden State Warriors at US Airways Center on October 19 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Goran Dragic


Every summer NBA.com takes a look at every team following their offseason moves, breaks down different parts of the team and assigns grades to them. Last week, their evaluation of the new-look Suns was released. Most of the grades seem pretty reasonable, but I don't agree with all of them or the explanations. Therefore, I decided to take a stab at grading the moves and the roster myself.

NBA.com used the standard A through F grading scale, with an A grade meaning superior, B meaning above-average, C average, D below-average and F failing. For comparison's sake, I'll use the same grading scale, although my idea of what constitutes an "average" player is probably a bit different.

Make the jump to see the Bright Side's grades and how they differ from those on NBA.com.

Frontcourt

The Players: C - Marcin Gortat; PF - Luis Scola; SF - Michael Beasley

NBA.com's Grade: B-

What a strange time in Phoenix. Center (Marcin Gortat) and power forward (Luis Scola) are secure all of the sudden and small forward (Michael Beasley) is the uncertainty. The Suns have flip-flopped in two years.

A B- seems fair to me when taking all three players and what they did last year into consideration. However, this is the the Bright Side after all, and I'm going to take a slightly more optimistic viewpoint.

Marcin Gortat isn't a superstar, but he is a Polish double-double Machine and one of the better centers in the league. Even without Steve Nash spoon-feeding him in the pick-and-roll he should be a solid B+ player.

Luis Scola is on the wrong side of thirty and is coming off a sub-par season with Houston, but with reduced expectations and a fresh start I expect him to be a good contributor. He has excellent chemistry with new/old point guard Goran Dragic and should give the Suns a dependable scoring option in the post and on pick-and-pops. I foresee C+ to B- play from the gritty Argentine.

Micheal Beasley at small forward is going to be the difference between a very solid frontcourt and a dysfunctional one this year. As a power forward his first two years in Miami he was probably a C player, but as a small forward the last two years in Minnesota his play was probably closer to a D. However, Beasley is saying all the right things and the organization seems to have faith in him. It's now or never for him. If Beasley can focus on the little things and not try to do too much, we should see some C+ or possibly even B- play.

Bright Side's Grade: B

Overall, I think this starting frontcourt has above-average talent and will put up some solid numbers this year.


Backcourt

The Players: PG - Goran Dragic; SG - Jared Dudley

NBA.com's Grade: C+

Two newcomers, sort of, will try to replace one Steve Nash, with Goran Dragic, back for his second Phoenix stint, and Kendall Marshall the new point guards. Jared Dudley is the favorite at shooting guard.

I don't agree with this grade at all and the reasoning is a bit off-base. It's true the Suns have to replace a franchise legend in Steve Nash, but Goran Dragic will be the only one trying to fill those shoes next year. He was the best player signed by the Suns this summer and might be the best player on the entire team. I already wrote 2400 words about the kind of player Dragic is, so I'll just give him a B+ and move on.

Kendall Marshall doesn't factor in here much at all, as he still has to beat out Sebastian Telfair for the back-up job if he even wants playing time this year.

Some think Shannon Brown will be the starting shooting guard, but I still believe it's Jared Dudley's job to lose. Dudley is not a star, but his efficiency is incredible and he just makes the team better when he's on the court. This may be a bit biased, but I'm giving him a B-.

Bright Side's Grade: B

Just like the starting frontcourt, the backcourt is solid and has above-average talent.


Defense

The Numbers: 103.8 (23rd overall)

NBA.com's Grade: D

Having the rare -- unheard of? -- stability at center and power forward could make a difference. But the Suns need big gains in this area after finishing 21st in shooting defense.

D is a pretty fair grade based on last year's performance and the defensive abilities of the newcomers.

Center is rightfully given credit, as it is probably the strongest defensive position on the team with Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye and Jermaine O'Neal. However, I wouldn't say the same for the Suns' power forwards as neither Luis Scola or Markieff Morris are particularly good defenders at this stage of their careers.

Point guard is fairly strong as well with Dragic and Bassy Telfair, but the upgrade from Nash to Dragic is more than canceled out by the drop-off from Grant Hill to Michael Beasley. None of the other wings are really anything to write home about either.

Bright Side's Grade: D+

All things being considered, the roster probably isn't any better defensively than it was last year. However, the team will not have to hide Nash or devote extra help to him this year. Also, this is Elston Turner's second season with the team and he gets a full offseason to work with the team and implement his system this year. That's enough for slight improvement in my eyes (a D+ is roughly 19th in the league on my scale).


Bench

The Players: Sebastian Telfair, Shannon Brown, Wesley Johnson, Markieff Morris, Channign Frye, Jermaine O'Neal, Kendall Marshall, P.J. Tucker

NBA.com's Grade: C+

There are some valuable, but unproven, prospects on the bench, with 2012 lottery pick Marshall and '11 lottery pick Markieff Morris. Some veterans add depth. But the Suns have no reserve standouts yet.

NBA.com summed up the bench pretty well.

Morris and Marshall are interesting prospects that could make a difference if they can build on their Summer League play. A bounce back year from Channing Frye would really help the second unit, as would Telfair and Brown picking up where they left off at the end of last year.

However, they are right that there are no stand-outs that can take control of the offense and make a difference when the starters are sitting.

Bright Side's Grade: C+

This is the first grade I completely agree with. The bench isn't terrible like it was during the first half of last season, but the above-average talent just isn't there right now.


Coaching

Alvin Gentry's Record in Phoenix: 155-122 (.560)

NBA.com's Grade: B

Alvin Gentry has become one of the signs of consistency in Phoenix, an important role in a time of transition. The greater challenge is to bring a mix of veterans and prospects, newcomers and returnees, together.

Once again, I agree. Gentry is a steady presence at the helm for the Suns in the midst of their transition. However, he's on the last year of his contract and whether or not he continues to be a sign of consistency for the organization may depend on how well he handles that challenge.

There are a lot of returners, but this is still a completely different team sans Nash and Gentry is going to have to find a new identity for the squad. Gentry generally does a good job of connecting with his players and finding a way to get the best out of them. That will be put to the test with reclamation projects like Bealsey and Johnson on the team.

Bright Side's Grade: B

Gentry is a good coach, and he's going to have to do a lot of coaching this year.


Overall

NBA.com's Grade: C+

This grade is pretty fair for the offseason moves and where the roster stands right now. As Scott Howard-Cooper notes in his summary, this team is clearly in transition. The roster isn't completely devoid of talent like last year's Charlotte Bobcats, but it won't be challenging for a title either. This year's Suns are a team with middling talent and no stars. But they also have some young intriguing players that will be worth watching develop.

Bright Side's Grade: C+

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