Analysing possible upgrades at the PF spot with advanced stats - part 1; poll included

If the Suns decide to go all-in on Bledsoe by offering him a (near)max contract this summer, it is worth looking into the option of using the cap space (before re-signing Bledsoe) to upgrade the PF and/or the C position. I've already covered potential center targets in my article ( In this article, I look at potential players to upgrade the PF rotation, short-term and/or long-term.

The detailed presentations, advanced stats and some articles on potential players and the two current Suns PFs are available in part 2 of this article - In part 1 (this part), I present some possible views on the issue, with the emphasis on Taj Gibson&Tristan Thompson.


Current Suns

Markieff Morris has the potential to become a quality starting PF and should be given sufficient minutes in the 14/15 season. He is a comparatively good defender and fits well into the Suns' offense.

Given Channing Frye's play, especially on the defensive end, his age and his contract status, if the Suns decide to keep him, it might be time to start thinking about him playing 5th big man minutes (behind starting PF, Markieff, Plumlee, Len) and that he agrees to sign a new, significantly lower long-term contract (in the region of 2.5m$ per year/3years). If he's unwilling to accommodate the Suns in this regard and give them a hometown/loyalty discount, yet chooses to exercise his player option, it would be prudent of the Suns to at least look at available trade options for teams looking for a stretch 4 and/or expiring contract.

PFs not analysed in this article

So unless the Suns decide to conserve their cap-space for the summer of 2015 (, the Suns should be looking for a starting or a backup PF. Unfortunately, there aren't many good&feasible options. Bosh has said he wishes to remain in Miami. Other teams look to be in much better position and/or more desperate for Love, and in any case trading for him would in my opinion be too risky&would gut the team. Nevertheless, I present his stats in this article. Randolph, who's an UFA, is probably staying in Memphis, for at least one more run with the current core before M. Gasol hits free agency. P. Gasol is too old and would probably demand too much. There's no Rondo-esque sitaution of a PF looking to be available for a trade except for Love.

Mirotic (who currently plays in Europe and who's NBA rights are held by the Bulls) would be my preferred option, as he looks to be ready to immediately contribute, but also to vastly improve in the long run. So if the Suns could make a run at getting him, I would sign up immediately, but since there's not much word about him being available, I haven't discussed him in this article.

Thomas Robinson would be a good addition, but has only recently been acquired from Houston and looks set to be a big part of Portland's future. Houston's Terrance Jones would be another interesting possibility for a break-out season with the Suns, but reading about his arrest for stomping on a sleeping homeless man outside a night club makes me disgusted by him (

Mason Plumlee isn't going anywhere, because the Nets are so over the cap that they most likely couldn't sign a quality replacement for him and due to a lack of draft picks, they would surely want to keep such a young player with lots of upside. Ed Davis is another interesting player that I look forward to seeing more in the future, but he's a RFA and I doubt Memphis would be willing to part with an important part of the rotation with the aging Z-Bo, and he's not clearly good enough to warrant a high contract offer that would dissuade Memphis from matching it.

Taj Gibson&Tristan Thompson

Considering all options and circumstances, I would like to focus on the feasibility and prudence of considering trading for Taj Gibson or Tristan Thompson.

Taj Gibson would be a quality two-way starting PF who would improve our defense without worsening the spacing too much, and would allow Markieff one more season of developing without the burden of being a starter. His 8m$ contract, running through 16/17, would also be a good trading chip in a S&T for one of the big 2015 FAs. Chicago is rumoured to be looking to free up cap space to get Melo, so Gibson would probably be available at a very affordable price, unless he'll be a part of a trade for Love. He's a good option if the Suns are very determined to significantly and immediately improve the team through new players before the start of the 14/15 season.

I've written about Taj in one of my earlier fanposts - .

Tristan Thompson is rumoured to be shopped by the Cavs' FO, so he could be acquired at a reasonable price.

He is still believed by some to have a very high upside, but would require a lot of development and work (and he has shown his hard-working attitude by switching his shooting hand from left to right last) on his shooting and other aspects of his offensive game, but he would be serviceable on the offensive end. He's already quite efficient in transition and pick 'n' roll situations, and reasonably efficient in isolation and post-up situations, as evidenced in mysynergysports stats. He has quite some work left to be done on his efficiency in spot-up and cut situations.

His defense and rebounding are already very good. He's ambidextreous, a hard worker and an intelligent player, mentality-wise the kind of player I'd want to see on the Suns.

He'll be a RFA next summer, which guarantees the Suns some flexibility. Considering his young-ish age (he recently turned 23), potential and the amount of work to be done, he seems more of a long-term project with good potential to become a quality starter or even better, but is someone who would immediately be a good 2nd unit player, especially taking into acount the fact that he wouldn't have to carry the 2nd unit's main offensive burden (Green, Goodwin, also Dragic/Bledsoe for limited minutes, perhaps even with Frye at the C spot for limited minutes stretching the floor).

Other players presented through stats

Josh Smith, considering his Atlanta days where he played the PF spot, would be an interesting proposition to have at the PF spot (as would Rudy Gay at the SF spot), especially in a system and under a coach who'd demand accountability, but alas his contract in my opinion makes him too big of a risk to take on.

Thaddeus Young would make a good role player off the bench, but his 9m$ contract, the fact that 15/16 is a player option and the fact that Philly will slowly start to actually try to win games and not give away quality players for peanuts makes trading for him unappealing. Also, his offensive stats on mysynergysports leave me unimpressed, as do his defensive. But to be honest, I'm not so familiar with his game and I would appreciate hearing more from people that know more about his game.

David Lee is another interesting proposition, but considering his age, his contract (15m in 14/15, 15.5m$ in 15/16), his mediocre level of defense, his unimpressive offensive efficiency stats and what GSW would look for in return, I'd take a pass on him. Again, I'm not so familiar with his game, so other people's opinions would be very welcome!


This year's batch of available (through FA or trades) big men is meagre, especially compared to the 2015 one. If the Suns are determined to acquire a PF, given the lack of better realistic options, I'd suggest either taking a safe option in getting Taj Gibson as a starter or rolling the dice and staying with Markieff Morris as the starting PF and getting Tristan Thompson as the backup PF. In both situations, I'd advocate downgrading Frye's minutes, especially when facing offensively skilled PFs who would exploit his lack-luster defense.

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