Player Profile: Channing Frye
After missing the entire 2012 season after the Phoenix Suns’ training staff discovered that Channing Frye had an enlarged heart, Frye tweeted earlier this week that he is healthy and will be returning to the Suns. In the 2011-12 season, Frye averaged 10.5 points while shooting 47% on 2’s and 34.6% on 3’s. At 6’11”, he only averaged 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, as he plays mainly around the three point line. He’s been away from the game for a year but we can review what his strengths and weaknesses on the court were from his last season.
Three Point Shooting
Frye’s most recognizable skill is his outside shooting, as he averaged at least 4 attempts per game the last three seasons. He reinvented himself as a player once he got to Phoenix, as he took only 70 3’s in his first four seasons before taking 392 in his first season with the Suns. He has actually seen a decrease in his shooting percentage the last three seasons, from 43% to 39% to 34.6% but he is still a dangerous outside shooter.
Here is Frye’s shot chart from 11-12, which shows that most of this attempts come from the top of the key, with very few coming from the corners.
This video compilation shows several of Frye’s makes, which begins to show how Frye spaces the floor and is able to catch and shoot from beyond the arc. He is probably at his best when he can catch and shoot from a standing position but he is able to drift toward the space and shoot off of movement as well.
When Frye is not spacing the floor at the three point line, he can find some success on the block as he shows some nice post moves. According to My Synergy Sports, Frye averaged 0.99 points per possession from post-ups, which ranked as one of the most efficient marks during that season.
He bodies up strong against post defenders and fights hard for position. When he catches the ball, he usually either reverts to a hook shot or a turnaround jump shot. Due to his height and length, these shots are nearly impossible to block which is why Frye is able to be so accurate, despite not being as strong as most interior players.
Finishing at the rim
Although the above shot chart shows a respectable 60% shooting for Frye around the rim, he struggled with getting shots off directly at the rim. He is not as strong as most NBA big men, which causes him to get stripped of the ball on the way up or be bodied into a tough shot. He’s not strong enough to finish through contact which is one reason he is better utilized as a three point shooter and floor spacer.
Pick and Roll Defense
Frye looked completely lost in many pick and roll situations and there are two big deficiencies in Frye’s defense in this area, which makes him a liability against the pick and roll. First, he gives too much space to the ball handler when the Suns ICE the screen. This allows the ball handler to pull up for an easy mid range jump shot. If the guard tries to penetrate, Frye is not even able to stop them from getting to the rim, even though he gives himself plenty of space to stay in front of the offense.
What’s more worrisome is that Frye often looks completely lost on the coverages, which gives the offense an even easier look than a midrange jumper. This can be seen in the last few clips of the below video which shows Frye’s confusion as when to cut off the ball handler and when to recover back to the roll man.
This causes him to get turned around on defense or not rotate at all to the correct person, which gives the offense an easy lane to the rim. It will be even harder for him to work through these coverages after a year away from the game, so teams will likely work to exploit this weakness.
Overall, the best part is that Frye is healthy and has been cleared to play. Hopefully he can make it through a whole season as an effective player. The Suns won’t be in playoff contention but it will be nice to see Frye back on the court. After a year away, it will be interesting to see if any parts of his game have changed but this profile is a good starting point for what we can expect from him as a player.