By Kyle Kensing
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 8, 2005
An open letter to the Phoenix Suns organization:
Thus far into the NBA season, your franchise has arisen from the ashes of a disastrous 29-53 campaign in 2003-04, much like the city's namesake.
Your Suns have jumped to a 38-11 start with an up-tempo style of play that has resulted in an NBA-best 109.5 points-per-game average.
Phoenix's resurgence has prompted NBA experts like Houston Chronicle beat reporter John P. Lopez to call you the savior of a league desperate to win back an increasingly dwindling fan base.
Yet despite the excitement Arizona's NBA representative has generated, your team is one key component short of becoming a serious contender to the world championship.
And that one component currently calls the UA home.
NBA analysts consider Phoenix native Channing Frye one of the top centers for this June's NBA Draft, and with good reason.
The 6-foot-11 UA senior is a rare commodity as a draft prospect.
His four years' experience as a starter under head coach Lute Olson give him a feel for the game the recent rash of teenagers forgoing the college game lack.
Frye is able to play the traditional role of center, banging down low with the big bodies and pulling down a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game.
His 37 blocked shots of the season stick in the back of opponents' minds when they come into his key.
On the offensive end, Frye possesses speed most players his size need four years of NBA experience to garner, with a 20-foot jumpshot to match his low-post moves.
However, Frye offers you something else, something far less tangible than any on-court skill.
His position has been your organization's omnipresent weakness in its 37-year existence.
It began in 1967 when the Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks first joined the NBA. The teams faced in a coin toss to earn that year's top pick in the draft.
Milwaukee won and chose UCLA big man and future Hall of Famer, Lew Alcindor. Three years later, the Bucks won an NBA title.
The Suns chose Florida's Neal Walk second, and to this day you are still chasing that elusive championship.
Phoenix has been plagued by this lack of a true center, at times trying to fill the void with would-be benchwarmers and undersized power forwards.
This year's team is no exception, rotating softies Jake Voskuhl and Stephen Hunter in the middle, and at other times filling the position with star Amare Stoudemire who is better fit to play forward.
While bigger, slower centers up for grabs in this year's draft would slow down the Suns' exalted offense, Frye's versatility would complement it, and it would allow Stoudemire to play his natural position.
And again, a Frye addition touches on the intangibles: the lack of an Arizona Wildcat on your roster.
The Suns have never had a Lute Olson-coached player any longer than a half-season when Ben Davis rode the pine in 1996.
Phoenix drafted 3-point sharpshooter Steve Kerr in 1988 but sent him to Cleveland after the preseason.
The Suns' organization has alienated the most basketball-crazy part of the state and in the process is missing out on a huge chunk of revenue.
To be fair, your franchise hasn't always been in a position to draft UA players.
But this year there is no excuse.
You own New York's first-round draft pick, and despite having the self-proclaimed greatest point guard on earth, Stephon Marbury, that Knick selection will be very high on the draft board.
There is only one choice your organization can make.
Draft Channing Frye. Welcome a UA player with open arms.
Acclimate him to your exciting style of play. Make him the contributor Voskuhl or Hunter could never be.
Break the coin flip curse. Win your world championship.