Well, the 2011-2012 season for the Phoenix Suns is officially at a close. The team finished a decent 33-33 and overachieved in relation to expectations. They missed the playoffs, but no one really thought they'd make it anyway. Would it have been better if the team had a better lottery position in the draft? Possibly, but it was kind of fun to watch this group do what they did with mostly spare parts. Of course, now the Suns' front office faces a really strange offseason with the potential departure of franchise face Steve Nash. It'll be intriguing (or maybe just depressing) to see what this team looks like next season.
Anyway, here is the season-ending Player Thermometer, ranking the team's players with a considering for their year-long contributions.
1. Steve Nash: Well what can we say about Steve Nash? Nash was typical Steve Nash this year, averaging 12.5 points and 10.7 assists per game this year. Nash finished second in the league in assists this year, just behind Rajon Rando. Considering Nash is 38 years old, the feat is pretty impressive. Nash led Phoenix to playoff contention while having one of his best statistical years of his career. This year more than others, Nash did more with less and took his team where few thought they could go -- to the brink of the playoffs. (Ryan Bafaloukos)
2. Marcin Gortat: Gortat provided about what any Suns fan could have hoped, averaging 15.4 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks a game (leading the team in all three categories). Late in the season, some of The Polish Hammer's lack of hammer (aka toughness) showed, but the guy can't really be picked on too much, considering he's the Suns' best center in a long time. Hopefully he'll hit the weight room and work on some lower body strength in the offseason to help him keep position on defense. (Justin Burning)
3. Grant Hill: It was a shame that Hill's season was cut short with a knee injury. He was a crucial piece to the team because of his willingness and ability to defend the opponents' best player. He would go from guarding point guards to power forwards, all while doing it well at his age. He still managed to score in double figures, as well. (Jess Root)
4. Sebastian Telfair: Telfair played the least minutes of his career this season, but he improved his play as the year progressed and became a solid contributor. He did a good job of backing up Nash during the final stretch of games, and he should show more improvement next year with a full season of experience under his belt. (Nikil Selvam)
5. Channing Frye: Fry's scoring average dipped this year by more than two points per game. Fry finished the season with an average of 10.5 PPG and 5.9 RPG, and he shot 35% from three. Even though Fry started most of the year, almost all of his season averages dropped. With the emergence of Markieff Morris, Fry could be moved to the bench next season. (RB)
6. Jared Dudley: If Dudley had remained a spark plug off the bench, his season would have been a rousing success. But as the team's starting shooting guard, he didn't provide the consistent scoring threat the Suns needed. He caught fire a little later in the season, but he took a while to find his touch. Known as an "intangibles" guy, his basketball IQ was overshadowed this season after being asked to take on a more tangible role and falling shorter than needed. (JB)
7. Shannon Brown: Shannon Brown's season was a tale of two halves. In the first half of the season, he was difficult to watch. He made poor decisions and never passed the ball. Then in the second half, he became the energy off the bench and became a solid scorer playing in the starting lineup when Hill went down. He probably earned himself the ability to sign somewhere for starter's money. (JR)
8. Michael Redd: The Suns amazing training staff has done it again! Redd, a 32-year-old veteran who hadn't played more than 33 games in any of the past three seasons, turned in a 51-game performance in '11-12. Though his three-point shooting wasn't as high as usual (31.8%), he looked great driving to the basket and creating his own shot. Redd may have rejuvenated his career this season. (NS)
9. Robin Lopez: The former first round pick Lopez has been a disappointment thus far in his NBA career. With the emergence of Marcin Gortat over the last two years, Lopez has been moved to the bench and contributes sparingly. This year, Lopez averaged 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds a game. For the first time in his career, Lopez did not start a game this season. Lopez also averaged the fewest minutes per game (14) since his rookie season. (RB)
10. Markieff Morris: The rookie big man showed a lot of promise in his first year -- probably moreso than any Suns rookie since one Amare Stoudemire. He had more offensive polish than expected and could rebound. But his play was extremely inconsistent and he did not seem to enjoy his brief time in the starting lineup. His main offseason priorities will be developing a killer instinct and perhaps working on decision-making with the ball and post defense. One would imagine he might work his way into the permanent starting lineup next season. (JB)
11. Hakim Warrick: Warrick was up and down -- in playing time. It's difficult to determine why he got minutes so inconsistently. There were times this season when he was the most important player on the floor because of his ability to score in the paint. But there were times when he disappeared. And others when he was simply buried on the bench. Luckily, his contract is manageable. (JR)
12. Ronnie Price: Price faded down the stretch this season after Telfair took over as the Suns primary backup point guard. He played only 31 minutes in Phoenix's final 15 games and was one of three players (alongside Warrick and Childress) who did not get consistent playing time. It's been a tough year for him, but Price is only 28 and he could demand more minutes with improvements to his three-point shooting and ballhandling this offseason. (NS)
13. Josh Childress: Childress has not been a good pickup for the Suns over the last two seasons. This year, Childress averaged 2.9 points per game and 2.8 rebounds per game. Childress' minutes have been reduced because he is playing behind Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. Childress has had a hard time contributing in his first two seasons as a Sun. (RB)