Welcome to the Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer for Week 16 in the NBA. The good times are a-rollin' for the Suns. They snagged two wins over the Utah Jazz (sweeping the season series for the first time in a long time), got a blowout win over the Golden State Warriors, and, of course, snuck in an embarrassing loss to a cellar dweller -- this time to the Sacramento Kings.
But overall, this was an up week for the Suns. Vince Carter's play has sucked, but Frye's and Lopez's has been improving. The team's rebounding numbers are up and their defense has been solid. Can they make a push for the playoffs? They're looking more capable every day, but they're still too inconsistent.
Below is the player thermometer for this week, in order of hot to not. Last week's ranking is in parentheses.
1. Steve Nash (2). His real accomplishment of the week was moving into seventh place on the all-time assists leaderboard against Utah, but on the week, he went for double-doubles in all four games. During the 3-1 week for the Suns, Nash averaged 19.5 points a game and 13.3 assists. He was even one of the few bright spots in the loss to Sacramento, going for 22/18. The dude is good. (Scott Howard)
2. Channing Frye (1). Frye, as of late, has been one of the Suns' staples, and he is doing it with more than just three-pointers. Over the last week, he pulled down no less than seven rebounds in each game. He does have the now-and-again stinker with his shooting (2-11 in Utah), but when he gets hot like he did at home against the Jazz, it is something to see. Sure, he's not Amare, but the 31-11 game he had in that game looked like (in the box score) what Stoudemire would give us. (Jess Root)
3. Marcin Gortat (4). In a year where there aren't a ton of bright spots, Marcin has grown to be the favorite Suns player of many fans. Gortat's offensive production has been somewhat limited this week, likely due to the Suns going through their center more when Robin Lopez is on the floor, but he's still averaging 12.3 points and 9.5 rebounds. He works hard every game and his rebounding prowess is becoming a little bit contagious, having encouraged Frye and Lopez to pull down a few extra boards. (Justin Burning)
4. Grant Hill (3). Not really the greatest week statistically for Grant, as he averaged less than 10 points per game in the four contests, yet he never really forced the issue offensively, failing to attempt 10 shots in any game. The real value for Hill is in his defensive prowess and, in the past week, he drew the assignments of Deron Williams twice, Monta Ellis, and Tyreke Evans. There truly is no rest for the old. (SH)
5. Robin Lopez (7). Robin's pulling a Stella and getting his groove back, at least a little bit. Although he didn't play more than 17 minutes in any game this week, his production was good, with 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in three of the games (the second game against Utah was a disaster for Robin). He's still way too inconsistent for pretty much everyone's tastes, but at least the flashes of talent are still there. (JB)
6. Jared Dudley (6). This has not been a fantastic week for Dudley's shooting percentages, at least against the Jazz. He went 1-for-7 the first time around and 0-for-4 the second time, missing all five of the three-pointers he took in those two games. He was a combined 11-for-19 from the field in the other two games against the Kings and Warriors, though one of them was a loss, so his impact was lessened. (JB)
7. Hakim Warrick (10). When Warrick erupted for 16 points against Utah last Friday, it was his first double figure game since December 17th. What's more amazing to me is how he actually sank a couple jump shots in doing so -- something he hasn't exactly shown the ability to do this season. He was also decent in the Suns' home win over Golden State, going for eight points and six rebounds in his 20 minutes. The reason he's not higher on this list is his other two games, in which he scored four total points and grabbed two rebounds. The name of Hakim's game is not consistency. (SH)
8. Mikael Pietrus (9). Pietrus is starting to see consistent playing time in the 20-24 minute range, but it is likely only due to the fact that Vince Carter has seemingly become as effective as going to a buffet while on a diet. When he is not doing a bad Leandro Barbosa impression in the volume of shots he attempts, he is making solid contributions defensively. He fourth quarter performance Tuesday against Utah was likely the difference in that game. (JR)
9. Vince Carter (5). Oh, VC. This was not your week, my friend. Carter did not play more than 25 minutes in a game this week, nor did he score more than 10 points in any of the four games. When Carter's supposed to be your team's leading scorer and he's only shooting 37% from the field (including not making a single three-pointer in eight attempts!), that usually isn't good. Give coach Alvin Gentry some credit, though -- he's realized how caca-licious Carter's recent play has been and he's kept his minutes down, letting guys like Pietrus and Frye play a bigger role. (JB)
10. Zabian Dowdell (8). Zabian Dowdell is a pretty damn good defensive guard. He stays in front of his man and has shown an ability to knock the ball loose or at minimum disrupt the flow of an offense. As for Dowdell's own offensive production ... well, he's pretty good at defense. After a 5/10 shooting night against Golden State, he shot just 5/17 in the subsequent three games. His minutes against Sacramento effectively murdered the Suns offense, as he shot 2/8 and turned the ball over three times to just one assist. Once Goran shakes the rust off, I'd imagine Z will be back on the bench full-time. (SH)
11. Goran Dragic (11). He's back from his injury. He had that going for him. And while some local radio guys are saying that Dowdell is going to push him for minutes, we all know that as long as Dragic is not rusty, he will get the minutes. He only played five minutes in his one appearance and Dowdell played the fourth quarter, but fans should not read into that too much. Dragic is their backup. (JR)
12. Garret Siler (13). Hi, Garret! I hear you've lost a lot of weight since coming to the Suns. Well, at least you're getting something out of the experience. (JB)
13. Josh Childress (12). I guess all you can say about J-Chill is that he got into a game last week for the first time since January 24th. He also made his only two field goal attempts in those nine minutes against Golden State. Five years, $33 million well spent. (SH)
14. Gani Lawal (14). Tough luck for the rookie. Can't seem to get out of the cellar. That happens when you are out for the rest of the season. Although, even considering his situation, if Vince Carter keeps playing at the level he has been recently, it may be VC who occupies the bottom spot. (JR)