Welcome to the second edition of the Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer. This thing has just barely existed and we're already shaking things up. A quarter of the roster have now changed and over the last week, the Suns played one game mostly without Steve Nash, and two games without the players they traded away or the players they traded for.
Though they lost two out of the three games, there was something positive to take from the week. In undermanned games against the Oklahoma City Thunder (a win) and the San Antonio Spurs (a loss), Phoenix showed a lot of the fight and the "all for one, one for all" chemistry that made last season so special. Will it carry over with Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus in the fold? Let's pray it is so.
Without further ado, here is the Player Thermometer, in order of who's hottest to who's nottest. Last week's rating is in parentheses.
1. Grant Hill (4). Everything you could possibly need, Grant Hill can give to you. When Amar'e took off via free agency, Hill took on more of the scoring burden. Now with J-Rich in Orlando, he has begun to assert himself even more. His 30/10 performance against Oklahoma City -- while covering Kevin Durant, mind you -- was an absolute revelation. Grant continues to be a pleasure to watch. (Scott Howard)
2. Steve Nash (1). Nash had a ho-hum week, aside from the game against the Mavericks in which he came out with a stinger. His impact was once again seen in that game -- the Suns' offense could not maintain its necessary pace and efficiency, as the team only managed 91 points in a loss. Upon his return, he was the Steve Nash we are used to. He shot 70 percent, had ten assists in each game and averaged 18.5 points. (Jess Root)
3. Robin Lopez (14). Robin Lopez seems like a different player since coming back from his knee injury. In those four games, he's averaging 12.8 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes of playing time (shooting 67% from the field). He certainly seems motivated to overcome his sluggish start to the season. Having Gortat around as competition should only help to keep the fire burning for Robin. The hair contrast between Robin and Marcin is striking, as well. (Justin Burning)
4. Jared Dudley (9). With Jason Richardson in Orlando, Dudley started twice as many games this week as he had in the rest of his Phoenix Suns career. The performances were a mixed bag. Against Oklahoma City, Dudley was scoreless in his 29 minutes of play, but the next night in San Antonio, he posted a career-high 27 points on 10/16 shooting. Considering Vince Carter will be out for the first few games of his Phoenix stint, Dudley should continue to get the opportunity to start. (SH)
5. Josh Childress (10). The trade of Jason Richardson opened the door for Childress to play again, as he had found himself the odd man out in Gentry's rotation. He took advantage of the playing time in the two games he played last week (against the Thunder and Spurs). He shot 60 percent from the field, had five rebounds in each game, averaged two steals and 12.5 points. He will need to keep this pace up if he is to find playing time once Vince Carter is ready to start playing or he will find a seat on the bench again. (JR)
6. Goran Dragic (7). Goran had a pretty snazzy week, averaging 10.3 points and 6.3 assists in his last three games, including extended minutes against the Dallas Mavericks after Nash was knocked out with a stinger. He seemed to be having trouble acclimating to the presence of Hedo Turkoglu in the reserve line-up, so the Magic trade should help Goran find his way going forward. (JB)
7. Channing Frye (2). Rough week for Channing, as evidenced by the fact that he's below almost every rotation player on our thermometer. Frye played a solid game against the Thunder (5/11, 12 points while struggling with foul trouble), but struggled from three-point range, hitting just one of his five attempts. Against the Spurs, Frye's shooting was an unmitigated disaster. He was 1/10 from the field and 0/8 from three. If you reach back to the Dallas game, Channing is 3/21 from three since his 7/12 performance against Minnesota. (SH)
8. Hakim Warrick (6). Hakim Warrick's up and down season continued last week. He started with a 15 point, 14 rebound performance in a losing cause against Dallas. He followed that up with games of seven and one and nine and five. I heard a telling stat on one of the broadcasts saying that 22 minutes is the breaking point of effectiveness. If he gets 22 minutes, he averages around 15 points a game. If less than that, he averages something like six a game. Say what you will about the stat, I think it means that he plays more when he is contributing on offense, and he sits when he is not. (JR)
9. Gani Lawal (13). Gani's still relegated to DNP-CDs, but at least he's back from the D-League and actually dressed in the two games since the big trade. Next (unlikely) stop: playing time. Hopefully Lawal eventually gets out of the dog house or we may have another Earl Clark situation brewing. Easier to take with a somewhat promising second-round pick than a lottery player, though. He moves up in these rankings solely because he's been on the team longer than the newbs. (JB)
10. Garret Siler (12). I find his versatility in being able to change from a suit on Friday into a uniform by Sunday to be fairly remarkable. What size pants do you think he wears? (SH)
11. Marcin Gortat (NA). There is a lot of excitement leading up to the Phoenix debut of "The Polish Hammer." He is the prize of the trade for the Suns. He will start off backing up Robin Lopez, but I would not be surprised to see him starting later in the season. He is expected to be a shot in the arm with rebounding and defense. His offensive skills are a little unknown for the Suns' system. At the very least, giving Lopez competition for minutes should raise the level of the play at the center position. (JR)
12. Mickael Pietrus (NA). Though Pietrus is dealing with some nagging health issues, he should be available to play tonight against the Heat. If he earns some court time, he should be a solid defensive addition to an already kind of strong defensive group on the perimeter (excluding Steve Nash, of course). He can also shoot the three, and the Suns don't love a whole lot of things more than three point shots. (JB)
13. Vince Carter (NA). The most disappointing part of VC's debut being delayed a few days due to knee issues is that we'll now have to wait a few extra games before seeing him crack the 20,000 point barrier in a Suns uniform. That will be an emotional moment for everyone involved. (SH)