Suns' Frye Sizzles as Starter
Posted: Dec. 1, 2010
Although Suns center Channing Frye said that he doesn’t give a “rat’s behind” about statistics, they have been serving him well recently.
After scoring in double figures just one time in the first eight games of the season, Frye has quietly picked up his game, rattling off a streak of nine-straight outings of double-digit scoring.
The nine-straight games in double figures is the second-longest such streak of his career, with an opportunity to tie his record of 10-straight games tomorrow night in Golden State. Although Frye doesn't attribute the improved play to him being inserted into the starting lineup eight games ago, it seems like more than just a coincidence.
“(Starting or coming off the bench) is the same,” Frye said. “You just have to get a better warm-up if you’re starting. When you come off the bench, you get to assess what other teams are doing and come in with a lot of energy.”
Last season, Frye averaged 11.2 points, which was his best scoring average since his rookie campaign. He also averaged 5.3 rebounds a night, which was the third-best of his career.
But where Frye really made grounds was in his three-point shooting. The 6-11 center finished fourth in the league in made three-pointers and sixth in three-point field goal percentage.
But instead of picking up where he left off, Frye started this season slowly. In his first nine games, where he solely came off the bench, Frye only averaged 6.9 points and 4.3 rebounds on 36-percent shooting from the floor and 33 percent shooting from behind the arc. Since moving into the starting lineup, Frye has averaged 13.4 points, 5.8 boards and 1.6 blocks on 53-percent shooting from the floor and 42-percent shooting from three-point land.
His recent inspired play has him actually averaging more overall rebounds, defensive rebounds and blocks than last season. When Lopez went down, Frye knew that he would have to step up as the biggest remaining frontcourt player in the rotation.
The University of Arizona product, who has proven what he can do offensively in this league, wanted to provide a greater impact on the defensive end.
“As a defender, I think he’s done a really good job for us as far as being really active,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’s done a nice job of doing what we’ve asked him to do as far as fronting the post and things like that. Obviously, we’d like for him to become a little better in the area of rebounding, but for the most part he’s trying and giving good effort.”
Frye, who is currently leading the team in rebounding at 5.4 a game, is adjusting to having to defend new types of players every night. One game he’ll match up against L.A.’s Paul Gasol and the next night he’ll guard both Orlando’s Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard.
Gentry notes that Frye is also not shooting as many three-pointers as last season because he’s had to become more of a “roll” guy on the pick-and-roll, as opposed to sticking close to the three-point arc last season. Not to mention, Frye isn’t sneaking up on anyone this season.
Teams are guarding him extremely tight near the three-point line, which is allowing other teammates to benefit.
“I’m not getting them off like I used to with teams switching on everything,” Frye said. “On that little pin-down screen that we do, J-Rich (Jason Richardson) is killing because people won’t leave me to help.”
When Lopez returns to the lineup in a few weeks, Gentry will be forced to figure out how to disperse minutes amongst his frontcourt. With rebounding being a concern, the Suns’ skipper has considered playing both Frye and Lopez together.
With Lopez being more comfortable near the basket and Frye possessing the ability to stretch the defense, the move would make sense.
“When Robin comes back, my role, whether it’s playing with Goran (Dragic) or Steve (Nash), will be the same,” Frye said. “I’ll space the floor, block some shots, rebound, play D, post up smaller guys and have some energy But playing with Robin would be great.”
Although Frye figured out how to make his presence felt when he came off the bench last season, the fact that he has scored in double figures in every single game as a starter seems to speak to his comfort level with the first unit. But he swears that where he begins the game doesn’t matter.
“I don’t give a rat’s behind about my numbers,” he said with a smile.” There’s going to be a game where I hit eight or nine threes and opposing teams won’t let me shoot for another month. I just have to figure out other ways to score and get others involved.”
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