Welcome to the Phoenix Suns player thermometer for week 14 of the NBA season. Per the usual, it's been a rollercoaster for the Suns, who spent this week winning three games in a row against quality teams after a couple losses against not quality teams. Marcin Gortat has exploded as a double-double machine (and all Suns fans can surely count on the Polish Hammer averaging 30 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks a game going forward).
The fortunes of our favorite Steve Nash-led squad have improved slightly, but they're still a game under .500 and have to plow through the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in order to reach that mark for the first time in a while. The short-handed Suns managed to beat OKC in OKC a while ago, but Kevin Durant and company might be slightly pissed about that game still and come into US Airways Center with a vengeance (and two newly-minted All-Star players).
Here are this week's player rankings, in order of hottest to nottest (last week's ranking is in parentheses).
1. Marcin Gortat (2). As his position on this list indicates, nobody has been more important to the Suns' current three-game winning streak than the Polish Hammer. In those games, Gortat has averaged an obscene 21 points, 13 rebounds and 69% shooting. That's impressive for anybody, much less someone who has served as a career backup. What's been more obvious than anything is how Gortat is really meshing with Steve Nash on the pick-and-roll. Clearly, someone taught the Hammer how to dunk and he's using that newfound ability liberally. (Scott Howard)
2. Steve Nash (1). Believe it or not, the last week was a quieter one for Nash, likely due to the breakout week that Gortat had. His scoring was a bit more pedestrian, as he scored just over 11 a game for the week. He is still setting up his teammates as always. He had 15, 10 and 13 assists last week. His lone downer was the Milwaukee game, in which he only scored nine points, thus losing out on another double-double -- a category in which he leads all guards in the entire league. (Jess Root)
3. Channing Frye (4). Channing has not really been his spectacular three-point shooting self all season (shooting 38%), but he gets credit for trying to find other ways to contribute. He's averaging 8.6 rebounds this week, including a 13-board outburst against the Bogut-less Bucks. He's also had two straight games with three blocks. So, he's doing things big guys should be doing on a basketball court. That's good. (Justin Burning)
4. Robin Lopez (7). Though he's been almost ridiculously overshadowed by Marcin Gortat in the past three games, RoLo has been fairly solid. In just 15 minutes a contest, Lopez is averaging 8.6 points and four rebounds -- highlighted by his 10/6 performance against the Hornets. He definitely missed an opportunity to produce some serious numbers against the center-poor Bucks, as he struggled with foul trouble and only played 10 minutes. I'm really not sure how much longer Lopez can hold off Gortat for the starting job. (SH)
5. Grant Hill (5). Hill's perfromance last week was typical of the old man. He struggled offensively against Boston, but anymore he has down offensive games when facing a tough defensive match-up. In this case, guarding Paul Pierce was the culprit. After a 1-for-6 shooting night against the Celtics, he shot 70.5 percent (12-17) and scored 16 points in the other two games. (JR)
6. Jared Dudley (3). The Junkyard Dog has been a nice court presence for a while now, though he started off the year slow. He's been somewhat quiet over the current three-game win streak, but he had 15 points and seven caroms against Milwaukee and he's been one of the most consistent bench players besides Gortat, who's only a bench player because he's not technically a starter. (JB)
7. Vince Carter (8). I knew this was going to happen eventually. The one player that I actively hope to be lit on fire is the one I have to review. The human corpse went for 17 against Boston on 5/10 shooting and actually got to the free throw line for six attempts, but in the previous two games, he's been quite quiet. Against New Orleans, Vince missed four of his five three-point attempts and in Wednesday's game with Milwaukee, he contributed just two points in an incredible uninspired 21 minutes that he basically spent moving out of the way. Trade deadline is February 24. (SH)
8. Zabian Dowdell (13). "Z" had a fortunate event occur for him. Right after signing a second 10-day contract, Goran Dragic decided to wake up and use the bathroom early one morning and attack glass with his bare feet. Needless to say, the glass will always win and Dowdell is now the backup to Nash. He has put up some decent minutes. He put up four points and four assists against the Hornets and scored four against the Bucks. However, as a result of the sloppy bench play late against Milwaukee, Nash came back in when he should have been done for the night. In 11 minutes of play Wednesday night, Z picked up five fouls. (JR)
9. Mikael Pietrus (11). Pietrus has been a pretty hesitant and poor shooter for being a shooting guard. He's only 5-for-18 from the floor this week, including a paltry 2-for-9 from three. His time on the floor had finally increased this week, though his impact was basically unaffected. (JB)
10. Hakim Warrick (9). Quiet, quiet week for Mr. Warrick. He only averaged 11.3 minutes a game this week, scoring only 5.3 points a game. He was still in the rotation, so that puts him over a few guys on this list, but that's about all he had going for him. With Gortat, Lopez, and Frye all playing pretty well this week, there wasn't much of a need for a big man who doesn't play very big. (JB)
11. Goran Dragic (6). Pretty rough week for the Dragon. First, he shot just 1-for-4 in the win over Boston and contributed little outside of that, and then he managed to step on some broken glass in his home and require nine stitches in his foot. Serious question: how is nobody questioning the ol' "stepped on broken glass" story? Seems like BS. (SH)
12. Josh Childress (10). Childress spent the week chilling with his hair on the bench. At least he looks cool when he's sitting and cheering. One thing to note about Josh is that owner Robert Sarver feels that his signing is still a valuable thing for the team in the future and that he will play an important role, but that Hill's great play has simply held him out. That's not going to change any time soon, so more of the same should be expected for the guy with the coolest hair in the NBA. (JR)
13. Garret Siler (13). Siler had a good chance for a breakout game in garbage minutes against Milwaukee until a bunch of annoying turnovers and overall poor second-half play forced the starters back in. Sorry, Garret, gotta wait 'til next blowout. (JB)
14. Gani Lawal (14). I'm ranking the guy with the torn ACL? Well, OK. I guess he probably rehabbed well this week. Good job! (SH)