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Mid-term Suns' Grades


The Bright Side of the Sun staff has issued mid-term grades for all the Suns.  Here they are.

To go along with your grade report, listen to the Bright Side of the Sun 65% Podcast where we discuss the Suns season so far and debate the t


Amar'e Stoudemire - B-

JSun: B+.  He can do better, and he knows it. However, he's still at 21 and 8 this year, despite Shaq taking all of his space in the lane. Give him some credit for expanding his offensive game and co-existing with The Big Kobe Lover.  Defensively, well, yeah ...  Sometimes he does the right thing, so it is so frustrating.  Who was the guy that got shipped out because he showed so much promise, but only delivered occasionally?  In his defense, this year it has been 2-guards lighting up the Suns, not big men.

Mike Lisboa: B-.  I've lowered my Amare bar. He's not the leadership type, or at least has yet to act like one. He talked about becoming a complete elite player at the beginning of the season and then dogged it when the touches went to Shaq. Still, he's putting up 21 and 8 without breaking a sweat. He's oodles of frustration, but I think the coaching change is going to lead to some big nights from him.

PanamaSun: B-.   Amar'e continues to be a beast on the offensive end, but he has yet to impress me with his "new" defensive skills. It's so frustrating to watch him standing around while somebody blows by him for a layup or dunk. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but at this stage of his career, I wouldn't hold my breath. Putting him on the trade block helped me realize how important he is to this team and I'm impressed with the way he handled this tough situation.

Phoenix Stan: C.  For a guy that started the season talking about wanting to be in the Wade, LeBron class and then talked about wanting to be a feared defender, he sure gave up fast. Is there anything more frustrating than watching Amare standing on the court watching the game happen around him and knowing that if he was just active and engaged he could have a positive impact? We expect the lack of effort in about 20% of Amare's games. I can live with that. This season it's been 80% and he's still managed to put up 21 and 8 albeit on a much lower shoot percentage. Wake up, Amare!

ZonaFlash: A-. His play has been a B-, but his handling of trade talks has been a A+.  We are very fortunate our number 1 trade asset player hasn't soured on the organization over these well-advertised talks, or his value and his play would drop like Phoenix property values and we would be forced to let him go for little back.

All the grades, after the jump!




Amundson, Louis


Barbosa, Leandro   


Barnes, Matt


Dragic, Goran


Dudley, Jared


Hill, Grant


Kerr, Steve

No Comment

Lopez, Robin


Nash, Steve


O'Neal, Shaquille


Porter, Terry


Richardson, Jason


Sarver, Robert

Look to See

Sims, Courtney


Tucker, Alando



Amundson, Louis -- B+

JSun: C.  When the bar is so low, any improvement is a big move.  Sure, he plays with "energy," but he shoots free throws worse than Shaq and he is good for one intercepted outlet pass per game.  He's got an awful combination of freakish athletic skill and absolutely no touch on the ball whatsoever.  In short, he's a taller, faster, higher-jumping me.

Mike Lisboa: B+.  I <3 Lou.  He scares me.  I want him to wear a Rip Hamilton mask so he's even scarier.  Ponytail or not, I think he might kill someone on accident with all his energy.  All of which is to say, if he works on his shooting and decision-making, he's going to be someone's scary back-up big for a while in this league.

PanamaSun: B+. Lou is one of my favorite players on this team. He comes in with a lot of energy, most of the times he's focused and does the job. I guess that's all you can ask from him since he's a role player. He should work on his jumpshot and free throws so he can become a greater threat on the offensive end. 

Phoenix Stan: B. He definitely gets an A for effort and that counts for a lot. But shooting sub .500 from the free throw line for a guy that HAS to take advantage of ALL his opportunities is worth a full grade reduction. I really hope he comes next year with an improved outside game. Next season will be the test for this guy's career.

ZonaFlash: A-. Better than advertised, even if he's worse than we need.


Barbosa, Leandro -- A-

JSun: Incomplete.  He's having a bad year, but he got off to a rough start and has been improving.  I think most profs would cut him some slack and let him take the first semester over again.

Mike Lisboa: A-.  When LB is feeling it, his actions on the court convey a joy for the game that Brazilians usually reserve for soccer.  It took him a while to find his groove this season, but he's come on strong of late.

PanamaSun: A. LB is one of the few bright spots in this very dark season for the suns. He has showed great improvement defending players and making the right choices on the court. His minutes were down in the Porter era but he was still able to come of the bench and provide the spark needed. The next step will be becoming a starter.

Phoenix Stan: A. Barbosa rebounded very well from a rocky start caused by the tragic loss of his mother. He's playing with more confidence than ever and most impressive has been a very marked improvement on defense. He's a great asset on any team. It's really shame that the Suns brought in a guy ahead of him in the rotation instead of giving him the starting job at the 2 and trading Diaw and Bell of a backup PG and PF.

ZonaFlash: A-. Throw out the sluggish start, that he's considered a trade asset after being untradeable over summer suggests he's shown improvement and living up to his contract.



Barnes, Matt -- C-

JSun:  D+.  Why does every player that joins the Suns suddenly think they are going to change their game?  Just because Raja Bell had one irregular year does not mean it will happen to everybody.

Mike Lisboa: C-.  Barnes made a good first impression with boards, hustle and yards of ink that the Suns had been sorely missing from the bench.  And then he pulled a latter day Dan Majerle on us when he forgot he was a tough, board crashing hustler and started jacking up 3s like a coked up Larry Bird.  So, yeah.  Back to the boards with ya, Barney.  Thanks!

PanamaSun: D+. Matt started the season playing very good basketball. He brought toughness and hustle but his low basketball IQ and poor shot selection have been a problem for him lately. What concerns me the most is the fact that he continues to play like this without making any type of adjustments in his game.

Phoenix Stan: D-. Barnes started out giving exactly what he needs to. Energy. Hustle. Toughness. Rebounding and defense. He leads the team with 3.4 three point bricks per game attempted and yet is only making 22% of them in 2009 and 12% in February. 12%! and yet he continues to jack them up. This is utterly unacceptable.

ZonaFlash: B-.  What can one expect for a million bucks.  After a great start, he's soured.  The rest of the NBA is watching as his price drops.


Dragic, Goran -- D+

JSun:  C-.  Expectations were set too high for him.  Even so, he has shown a lack of confidence and a lack of vision.  Perhaps a new coach will help.  Reports are that Porter spent hours upon hours telling everyone what they did wrong.  I'm thinking Porter may have set the kid back a few years.

Mike Lisboa: D+.  I really, really want to give the kid a better grade.  He was only brought to town with the expectation of taking over for a 2-time MVP IMMEDIATELY.  But as unfair as that expectation was, he hasn't even been passable as a back up.  He also hasn't been given much of a chance, either.  His game early in the season begged for D-League minutes, but he was never sent down.  He's failed to impress, but I don't think it's all his fault.

PanamaSun: D+. I never understood the hype and buzz when this kid came to town. He has not met expectations and I guess that's not his fault. He looks scared and lost on the court. He has played in Europe so I didn't expect to see him play like this. Here's a piece of advice: You have Steve Nash as a mentor, take advantage of that! Wake up!

Phoenix Stan: D. I had high hopes for this kid and in theory he might some day make it. His best chance is to go play for Coach Nurse in Iowa and see what he can do to improve down there against some fairly good PG competition in Ahearn, Conroy, Russell, and others

ZonaFlash: D.  Just another reason to be down on European players.  Want to feel bad?  Remember this?  Go to the 8 minute mark.


Dudley, Jared -- Incomplete

JSun:  B.  It's a shame we don't get to see more of him -- especially when we've been fed the b.s. that Porter was going to develop a bench.  Even more so when Barnes is out there jacking up shots every time he touches the ball.

Mike Lisboa: B.  In what I've seen from him, I like his hustle, his hands and his basketball IQ.  I reserve the right to revise this grade in either direction if he starts getting more minutes and either flourishes or tapers off.

PanamaSun: Incomplete. Not enough data to grade.

Phoenix Stan: A. I have been very impressed with Dudley in his limited minutes. He's a smart ball player with great hands on defense and solid hustle. And unlike the other guy at his position he doesn't jack up ill-advised threes.

ZonaFlash: Who?


Hill, Grant -- A

JSun: A+.  If it weren't for Hill, the Suns probably wouldn't even be in the 9th spot.  Physically, he's not a great defender, but he is so smart that he is a good defender (he's also the best perimeter defender on the team).  When the team needs defense, he plays D.  When they need rebounding, he hits the glass.  He gets out in transition and his mid-range game is still money.  He's got another 2 or 3 years in him and I hope he stays.

Mike Lisboa: A.  Class freaking act.  I don't know how often it can be said.  A smart guy both on and off the court.  I wish he could contribute as much physically as he apparently does in other less tangible ways to this team.

PanamaSun: A. We are really lucky to have him. He's a leader and he shows it on and off the court. He's a true class act and I hope he can stay.

Phoenix Stan: A+. By far the best Suns player this season. In the great locker room divide between the Shaq/Porter defense faction and the Nash/Amare run the hell out of the ball faction, Grant has been the peacemaker. One gets the sense that his leadership is the only thing that held this team together. On the floor, he's done everything, including being the best wing defender on the team.

ZonaFlash: A-.  Grant's play has been stellar in the saddest recent stretch of Suns play.  However, his inability to come off the bench, his career lifetime inability to help a team win a playoff round and his for certain "surprise" injury all contribute to his lower grade.  


Kerr, Steve -- No Comment

JSun: D.  The only reason I didn't give him an "F" is because Sarver pushed the Shaq trade on him.  Sure, it was "ultimately" his responsibility, but are you going to say no to your boss?

Mike Lisboa: C-.  Welcome to the learning curve, Mr. Kerr.  It took huge, HUGE cojones to admit the mistake that was the Terry Porter hiring.  That was worth a letter grade right there.  Ultimately I like the Shaq trade.  The draft... eh, not looking so good so far.  Boris and Raja for J-Rich looked like genius until J-Rich decided to get his Barkley on behind the wheel.  I think once he realizes that NBA teams are fine tuned engines that require occasional tweaks instead of massive overhauls, he's going to be a decent GM.  But like Terry Porter, maybe he wasn't the guy to bring in during a delicate transition.

PanamaSun: I'd rather not.

Phoenix Stan: No comment.

ZonaFlash: D.   Steve Kerr is not just a GM, he's also an owner. That makes him a little hard to fire.  The only silver lining in the past 6 months of failing at every stated objective (limiting Nash's minutes, developing a bench, putting defense first, etc, etc) is that Steve Kerr maintains high performance standards for the team and continues to try and achieve them. He's not complacent and he wants to win, it just hasn't panned out yet. Hey, we've still won 55% of our games!


Lopez, Robin -- D+

JSun: C-.  Similar analysis to Dragic's.  He should've been getting 10 minutes a game in those games that Shaq started.  It's hard to expect him to improve if he never gets PT.  I would've put up with some "painful transition" in the early season if he could've evolved into being more useful in the second half.  As it is, his first season is wasted.

Mike Lisboa: D+.  Like Dragic, I can't hold him entirely accountable for his lack of development.  But, yeesh, when the new fun-loving coach isn't giving him any run when the lead cracks 20, that speaks volumes about how unprepared he must be for this level of competition.

PanamaSun: D+. I'm not giving up on him but this kid needs some serious D-League time. Just like Dragic, He looks scared and lost on the court. I understand he's a rookie, but he was the 15th pick! I expected something better. He needs to stop fouling people every two seconds and missing uncontested dunks.

Phoenix Stan: D. Again, I think Robin has the potential to be a very solid starting Center in this league and I am frankly perplexed by his lack of progress. He clearly not getting minutes but how on earth did he let 6'8" Lou Amundson take his job as the back-up center? Another guy that needs to spend a few weeks in Iowa to work on this game and build his confidence. The kid I marveled at in Vegas is under that hair somewhere.

ZonaFlash: C.  Wasn't Robin supposed to be in a better position than brother Brook?  What is Bill Cartwright doing? 


Nash, Steve -- B+ (and Stan is a hater)

JSun: B+.  He's lost a step.  I also put some fault on him for not moving into the half court quickly enough.  It's easier to run an offense -- on the break or with a set -- earlier in the shot clock, especially when the defense is still setting up.  Of course, he's still Steve Nash.

Mike Lisboa: B-.  Nash's inability to run the TP "system" was fairly disappointing.  He's still clutch and tough as nails, but I wonder where his head is at sometimes.

PanamaSun: B+. Yes, he has lost a step but he continues to be one of the most (if not the most) important player on this team. Just look at what happens when he goes to the bench!  I don't care if you are playing half court or running. This is the guy that makes this team work.

Phoenix Stan: C. Nash is the one guy that had it in his hands to rally this team and buy into a system that was good for the organization even if it was bad for him. He's had some great games and will have many more. But by forcing the team's hand into giving him the ball back, the entire hopes for the team rest even more on his wacky spine and sore shoulders. He's deserving of respect for what he's done before this season but I can't in all honestly respect what he's done this year.

ZonaFlash: B+.   He's weathered the storm pretty well.  Despite being the engine behind the Suns resurgence from 2004, what is his lifetime record against the Spurs?


O'Neal, Shaquille -- A- (and Mike Lisboa is a hater)

JSun: A-.  He's done more than expected, but I don't think that's what the Suns needed.

Mike Lisboa: B.  How old is he again?  He is playing like a kid again.  Here's my beef: I hear the confidence and braggadocio, but I don't see it translating to that championship-caliber leadership he's supposed to bring to the Suns.  Show me that he's challenging this team to be their best and bring home a ring and I'll upgrade him to an A+.

PanamaSun: B+. Shaq came into this season with something to prove. He's still dominant and has done way more than expected. His ego continues to be his weakness.

Phoenix Stan: A. Better than expected and was the one guy that understood that the team's chances to greatness did not lay in the false hoop of the D'Antoni past but in the proven NBA model of defense, half court play and rebounding.

ZonaFlash: A.  Besides playing at a much higher level than we expected, his antics and positivity have lightened up an otherwise disappointing year.


Porter, Terry -- W

JSun: W.  He was involuntarily dropped from the class.

Mike Lisboa:  Incomplete. Wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I would probably give him a lower grade for his inability to lead the team anywhere, but I don't think he ever had a chance, really.  Note to NBA owners: When you fire/run-off a marquee coach, you had better replace him with a marquee coach if you want the players to give half a damn about what he has to say.

PanamaSun: D-. I think I've said enough about Terry. He was not the guy for the job and that's not his fault.

Phoenix Stan: Incomplete. He never had a chance with this group that was simply unwilling to even try for him. His bosses didn't back him up and his players weren't willing to sacrifice their game. He certainly lacked the personal gumption to pull it all together and for that he was fired, but his biggest mistake was taking the job in the first place and assuming that he would be supported when he did.

ZonaFlash: F.  By definition, most new coaches get their chance with a team in an awful conditions.  This was no different and it's up to the coach to find a way to make it happen or he's out.  Terry Porter's out. 


Richardson, Jason -- C-

JSun: D.  As in "DUI" -- too easy?  He should be explosive and a great asset.  On the court, he has shown moments and is an upgrade from Raja Bell.  Off the court ... I bought a Richardson jersey.  I'm such an idiot!

Mike Lisboa: C-.  I'm not sure what he adds to the offense that we couldn't have gotten out of a less expensive, less needy player.  He's another proverbial mouth to feed and another ego on a team that already has plenty of both.  And on defense... well, so far, rotations have not been his thing.

PanamaSun: C-. J-Rich is an exciting player when he's the main scoring option. Not so much here. His stats are down but he has showed why he has always been a big scorer in this league. I'm not sure if that's what the Suns needed.

Phoenix Stan: C. JRich has shown us what he can do and he's shown us what he shouldn't do. Let's hope we see more of the former and none of the latter.

ZonaFlash: D+.  While on paper JRich is a significant upgrade, the early returns haven't materialized. Since the trade for JRich, the Suns have won less and the Bobcats a lot more.  


Sarver, Robert -- Irrational Number

JSun: B.  He has spent his money, and he's even eaten Porter's contract in an attempt to make the team competitive.  I give him the positive grade for effort.  However, if he keeps listening to Kerr, I'm going to have to fire him myself.

Mike Lisboa: C+.  I like him.  I think he really wants this team to succeed.  He wants to be the guy that brings the championship to Phoenix, and he's tried to spend the money to make it happen.  I just think he's lacked vision in the best way to do this for both the short and long term.  I think this season has been a trial by fire for him after coasting through the D'Antoni years.  Let's hope he's learned a thing or two.

PanamaSun: No Grade.  I can't really grade him because it's not my money and I'm not writing the paychecks while my team is being left out of the playoffs. Props to him for trying to keep this team intact and making a late run.

Phoenix Stan: No comment. You can't judge an owner on half a season although he and Kerr totally mishandled the Porter dismissal.

ZonaFlash: C+.  The two sides to Robert Sarver are in conflict.  The fiscally conservative lifetime banker wants a business move to slash costs, the rabid fan that sits at half court like the King of Phoenix wants a basketball move and a winner.  The NBA is watching the two sides duke it out in public.  I'm rooting for the fan!


Sims, Courtney -- A

JSun: P.  "Potential," right?  Don't we have enough of those guys?

Mike Lisboa: Incomplete.  Until I see him play in the show, I don't care how awesome he was in the D-League.

PanamaSun: Who?

Phoenix Stan: A. The D-League All-Star co-MVP who has put up fantastic numbers in the games he's played deserves that. I really want to see what he can do at the next level. We need to know. Time to send Robin to Iowa and put this guy in uniform.

ZonaFlash: A.  Attend practice, show up for games.  How hard is that?



Tucker, Alando -- C

JSun: C. He hasn't practiced well enough to crack the rotation and his garbage time has been less-than-promising.

Mike Lisboa: D+.  In his second year, I would hope he'd be a little more NBA-ready than he's looked.

PanamaSun: C-. He doesn't look NBA-ready yet. Not even in garbage time.

Phoenix Stan: C. I was hoping for so much more. I still think he is a legit back up shooting guard and his attitude and team mate-ines has been stellar. Maybe it's just too much to ask for him to come in and light it up in 4 minutes of play. He's not that guy. He's a guy that's going to be solid over time and will do the the smart things even if it doesn't put up big numbers. Shame that he's playing at a loaded position.

ZonaFlash: B.  Has stayed out of the line-up, but also has stayed out of the press. 


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