The Replacement

Channing Frye is either staying or going. It is as simple as that. This frightening realty has hit the fan. Perhaps some fans are ready for the post-Frye era in Phoenix, while others won't be able to shake this one off for a while

Our Boy Kieff


If Channing signs a new contract elsewhere in the NBA, the Suns will have a need at filling the stretch 4/5 role. This could be Markieff's chance to prove he is the next starting four on this Sun's team for the foreseeable future. However, what made Frye so effective is he would start with Plumlee, and receive substantial minutes with Markieff throughout the game. This versatility is what helped Morris to receive as much time at the four as he did.

In fact, after calculating some statistics from, it appears Frye played about 30% of his minutes with Markieff. This 30% number could be higher, I am trying to decipher through the top 5 man floor units. This number is not concrete, but pretty close. These chunks of minutes in which Kieff is paired with the Frye guy undoubtedly probably aided in Markieff's post-game effectiveness. His FG% skyrocketed from 2012-2013, in which Frye was obviously absent, to 2013-14 when Frye was conveniently available. .407% to .486%. Nearly 8 full percent.

Shots at the rim (0-3 feet) and from 3-10 feet

In 2012-13 Morris took 27.9% of his shots from within 3 feet of the basket. He took 13.5% of his attempted field goals from 3-10 feet. That is 41.4% of his shots from within ten feet.

In 2013-14 Morris took 28.8% of his shots from within 3 feet, and 17.4% of his attempted field goals from 3-10 feet. That is 46.2% of his shots from within ten feet.

We can acknowledge that 5% increase in higher efficiency shots in Kieff's selection. It could be the maturation process, Hornacek's offensive philosophy, Frye stretching defenses for 30% of his minutes for Markieff, etc.

What is more exciting than a measly 5% bump in shot selection is that it was accompanied by an increase in FG%. 58.5% to 65.8% and from 25% to 40.1%, from at the rim and from 3-10, respectively. 7% and 15% increases in field goal efficiency is fantastic.

Shots from 10-16 foot

There was also an improvement from Markieff's 10-16 foot game that needs to be recognized. He took that shot 9% more often then in 2012-13, and his field goal percentage increased by 19%. 19%!!! 7%, 15%, and 19% in field goal percentages from three different areas on the court. I am going off on this Kieff tangent, but lets appreciate how remarkable these improvements are. I tip my cap to you Markieff Morris.

You know who I bet Kieff tips his cap to? Channing Frye. The man who gives Markieff plenty of opportunity to dominate from the rim to 16 feet. Channing shot 55.5% of his shots from three land. Markieff didn't have Channing in 2012-13 (he did in his rookie year, but I don't take Kieff''s rookie season seriously), but he did in 2013-14. Maybe its a coincidence, but I think there is something to it.

Kieff as the Phoenix Four

Now, when it comes to Morris as the replacement for Frye in the starting lineup, that is fine. The problem is that Morris can't do what Frye does. Kieff's game is becoming more power forward oriented. He is really starting to pack his game from the rim to within 16 feet, and I prefer him inside. His shot from 16 feet out to range improved by 1.5%, but his three point efficiency declined by 2%

Basically, what we can conclude is that Kieff became slightly less effective from range, and also took 13% less of those types of shots. He is trending further away from the Frye mold, not approaching it. That is okay with me. I am liking Kieff's game the more I watch it. My concern is, to get the same type of efficiency from Markieff, he may need a Frye type of player on the roster in 2014-15. A player that can back up Morris, but also play at the five spot so Markieff can remain in his appropriate stretch power forward position. This is where things get murky.

Oh, also a replacement for Frye that can be a +293 (+6.1 per 48 min) when he is on the court. Goran was at +5.4 per 48 and +301 overall. Bledsoe was at +4.6 per 48 min. After that it isn't close. Frye won't be easily replaced.

The Replacement

The challenge is finding this stretch four/five that can effectively fill a 15-20 minute void each night. This 15-20 (maybe 25) minute rotational slot is what is most appropriate for Frye over the duration of his next 3-4 year contract. For this exercise, lets pretend Kevin Love, Carmelo, Lebron, Bosh, Gasol, etc. is not walking through the door. It is either free agency or the draft. Now, if you want to be creative and start up the ESPN trade machine, I applaud you. I won't be doing such.

When it comes to finding this stretch 4/5, lets scour the free agent market. We have done a ton of draft talk. I don't want to invest time in the draft at the moment. Now, this is one of those "hypothetically if we had to" type of considerations. I know fans would opt for a trade or a draft pick to upgrade. Hypothetical rosterbation.

Finding a free agent replacement will be difficult. Considering guys who make it rain that can play PF/C are a horse of a different color. I have a feeling we aren't in Kansas anymore. Okay, enough puns. Our goal is to allow Markieff to play as little center, and as much power forward as possible. However, some potential free agent prospects may be power forward restricted. This isn't ideal, but we will explore some options. Before we get too far into this, I am not considering Spencer Hawes. He is a center, and he sucks at defending centers. He really can't defend power forwards. Moving on.

Patrick Patterson PF- Toronto Raptors-RFA

Height: 6'9'' Weight: 240 bs. Wingspan" 7'1.25" Standing Reach: 8'11'' Age: 25.1 years

Before we divulge in some Patrick Patterson statistics, I am not sure if his presence could allow for Markieff to remain at power forward. But, if one of the two were to defend the center position, it would be Patterson. His wingspan is 2.25 inches longer than Kieff's, but only half an inch more in standing reach. They are both in the 240 range in terms of poundage. Patrick is also more athletic, albeit not that great of a difference.

What can he do that is Frye like? The man can drop bombs. A career 36.8% 3pt shooter, Patterson, who did not shoot this shot at all in his first two years, has shot it between 21-30% of the time during his time with the Rockets, Kings and Raptors in the last two years of his career. Outside of his 17 game hiatus with the Kings last season, in which he shot 23% from 3, in the last two seasons Patterson has shot nearly 39% from three point range at over two attempts a game.

Per 100 possessions, Channing shot 9.4 three point attempts in 2013-14. Patterson only 5.2 attempts per 100. If Patterson can bring his attempts closer to Frye levels, and maintain a similar percentage, we could be in business.

Patty P also had an impressive 113 Offensive Rating to a 103 Defensive Rating with Toronto. Per 48 minutes with Toronto, Patrick Patterson was an absurd +8.6 plus/minus. (Refer back to the 6.1 and 5.4 per 48 numbers for Frye and Goran, the best on the Suns).

Patrick Patterson clicked in Toronto. With Valanciunas parked down low, and the Derozan/Lowry combo attacking the rim, the offense was a nice fit for Patterson. I think he would also fit very well with this Suns offense.

Sidebar: Looking at these advanced stats, Greivis Vasquez was alarmingly good in Toronto.

The issue with Patterson is he is a RFA. An additional issue is the fact that a 6'9'' power forward with a 7'1''+ wingspan that can drill threes at a high clip are not cheap. His 16.2 PER with Toronto and his 15.2 PER in 2012-13 show that he is an above average contributor. With the success Toronto had post Patrick Patterson trade, he will be valued highly by his playoff team.

Toronto has some salary cap issues. They want to do a lot of things, but probably can't do everything. I have no idea where Patterson fits in their equation, but the Raptors probably match anything from 4 years $16-20 million. If they don't, that is a good price for Pat, and a trade-able contract in the future. It wouldn't be fun to find out though that Patterson and Morris can't co-exist in the same front court defensively. It could be an intriguing offensive pairing though. Patterson's block rate at 2.4% and steal rate at 2.0% with the Raptors last year is pretty solid, but he is a poor rebounder for his size.

Josh McRoberts PF- Charlotte Bobcats Hornets UFA

Height: 6'10'' Weight: 240 bs. Wingspan" 7'1" Standing Reach: 8'10.5'' Age: 27.1 years

Josh McRoberts had a solid season last year. He shot 36% from three. 51% of his shots came from three point range. That is similar to Frye's 55%, but McBob only shot 6.4 per 100 possessions. That is 3 shots less than Frye, but 1 more than Patty Patterson. We have a PF who chucks and could probably play center, but has not really done so in 4 years.

McRoberts' Offensive Rating of 115 and Defensive Rating of 105 is pretty good. So is his 6.5 Win Shares (3.5 OWS/3.0 DWS). That 3.0 Defensive Win Share number exceeds Frye's (and P.J. Tucker). His plus/minus numbers aren't as impressive, but he was only one of four Bobcat regulars to have a positive plus/minus on the season.

McRoberts' rebound percentage was pitiful. Actually, downright embarrassing. His Offensive Rebound % was by far the worst of his career at 4% (Career 6.7%) and his Defensive Rebound % plummeted to 13.8%(Career 16.8%), also the worst of his career. His total rebound % was 8.9. Oh my. Similarly, Channing had the worst rebounding season of his career at 10.1% TRB. McBobby was poor on the glass, to say the least.

What we can conclude is that McRoberts offers similar defensive abilities, but he blocks shots and rebounds at less of a rate than Channing. Sounds like he would slide right in.

What Josh McRoberts does that Channing doesn't do is pass the rock. 21.9% assist rate for McRoberts. Holy Cow. Frye's was at 6.4%. For comparison, Dragic was at 28% and Bledsoe 27% in terms of assist percentage. This play making ability via the pass could really help the Phoenix offense thrive. McRoberts only averaged 1 less assist per 100 possessions than both Bledsoe and Goran.

Now we have a solid defensive, non-rebounding, bombs over half of his shots from three, passing machine that could likely be had for a respectable price and play some center.

As a UFA, I assume McRoberts will get a raise from his $2.6 million dollar salary. His PER was 13.8, which is also his career PER. At 27, he won't be reaching a new ceiling. However, that 21.9% assist rate has me intrigued with the dimension he could add as a play maker for this offense. The Hornets have about $16 million in cap, and seem interested in retaining McPasser. He meshes well with Big Al, so we will have to see.

Oh, and Frye can't do this either.

Mike Scott- PF Tweener- Atlanta Hawks, RFA

Height: 6'8'' Weight: 237 bs. Wingspan" 7'1" Standing Reach: 8'10.5'' Age: 25.3 years

Here is the first, "HE HAS TO PLAY PF" candidate. He is already 25, ceiling isn't much higher. He also only shot 31% from three and 31.8% of the shots he attempted were from range. Woof. But, he only took .007% of his shots from three the previous season, so it shows he has drastically changed his game very quickly. He shot 48% from 16 feet out to 3pt range in 2013-14, in which he shot 43% from that area in 2012-13. We could see a big leap next season. Mike Scott also converted 71% at the rim.

Now, lets get something straight. Horrible rebounder. Doesn't generate steals. Doesn't block shots. Not a good defender. From what I see, he plays with decent energy, so that is something. He did score nearly 19 points per 36 minutes, so he can pour them in. His PER was also 15.3, also pretty solid. I don't know how often we could pair Kieff and Scott, but Scott could provide the spacing. He took 6.8 threes per 100 possessions. There was also a two month time span where he averaged about 44% from deep and that creates some interest.

He would probably be relatively cheap, but I am not sold on him as a contributor on a legitimate playoff team.

Marvin Gaye Williams Jr.-SF/PF- Utah Jazz UFA

Height: 6'9'' Weight: 230 lbs. Wingspan" 7'3.5" Standing Reach: 9'0'' Age: 28 years

Another "HE HAS TO PLAY THE 3 OR THE 4!". That is okay. The market isn't flooded with big men who can stroke. This former second overall pick was chucking in Utah last season. 7.3 attempts from 3 per 100 possessions. 45% of his shot attempts were from 3, by far the most in his career. His 72% at the rim his last two years in Utah is impressive. I should mention he shot 36% from beyond the arc. Marvin is really becoming a floor spacer who can still get it done at the rim with his length.

Marvin doesn't rebound. Hmm, a common theme with all of these replacement candidates. His steal and block rates are low for a player with a near 7'4'' wingspan. Similarly to Mike Scott, this forces Kieff into center duty. Williams Offensive Rating was 110 and his Defensive Rating was 110. Not bad for a team like the Jazz that was, well, bad. He wouldn't get 25 minutes a night in Phoenix, but his athleticism and floor stretching tendencies could be useful 15-20 mins a night at about 3 years- $12million-ish with partial guarantees in the third year. His PER was 14 in 2013-14, and for his career its 13.6. At 28, what you see is what you get, but I can imagine we will continue to see him launch from deep at an increasing rate.

Anthony Tolliver -PF- Charlotte Hornets UFA

Height: 6'8'' Weight: 240 lbs. Wingspan" 7'2.5" Standing Reach: 8'11.5'' Age: 29 years

Okay, I know. This is kind of silly. But, after digging into the numbers, Tolliver might be the perfect 10-12 minute a game role player. But first:


I will make this quick. 80.5% of Anthony Tolliver's shots were from three point land last season. That is like....almost every shot he takes. He also made 41.3% of those threes. Literally all he does is launch. 9.9 three attempts per 100 possessions (Frye 9.4).

His O-Rating was 118 and his D-Rating was 107. He also had the best net plus/minus out of the regular rotation players on the Bobcats. Compelling.

Oh, but his PER was 11.

He doesn't block shots. He doesn't get steals.

Oh, and he MIGHT BE THE WORST 6'8" REBOUNDER IN THE NBA. Keep in mind this guy averaged 20 minutes a night for over 60 games last year. He averaged 2.6 rebounds per game. 2.6.

4.7 rebs per 36 minutes. (6.5 for Frye)

6.7 rebs per 100 possessions.(9 for Frye)

7.3% Total Rebound Percentage (Frye 10.1%)

I am at a loss. However, the numbers show though that he is a very effective player. The Bobcats were better when he was on the court. Fact. He (and McRoberts) allowed Big Al to go to work.

Honorable Mention

Drew Gooden, Ryan Kelly, Hedo Turkoglu, B.J. Mullens...Jason Smith? See I wasn't kidding. Channing Frye will get paid a nice chunk in free agency. He is worth it, because of how he helps the team score buckets. If the Suns want to replace him, they will have to over-pay for it too.

Of the names I mentioned, I am most intrigued with Patrick Patterson and Josh McRoberts, in that order. That is probably why I wrote about them first. They wouldn't demand bukoo bucks, but both players will see pay increases, no doubt.

Now do I want these players? Locked up at 3-4 years, anywhere in the $4-6 million dollar range for either one? Not necessarily, but if we "had to sign a free agent to play 15-20 minutes per night that could best replace what Frye does for the offense at a reasonable cost, and co-exist with Markieff", I would take one of those guys.

-Greg Brannan

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