Phoenix Suns center Robin Lopez is out at least two weeks with a bulging disc, according to this report from Bright Side of the Sun. I honestly didn't think this was that big of a deal - it's Robin Lopez on a team that already stars big man Amare Stoudemire - but according to both BSotS's Seth Pollack's stat-crunching and Basketball Prospectus' Kevin Pelton's number-running, this is actually a pretty unfortunate injury.
Can a D-League player help? While the Suns have been reluctant to use a call-up in the past (miss you, NBA-career-of-Courtney-Sims), the play of a D-Leaguer would almost have to be at least as solid as Lopez replacement Jarron Collins.
How bad is Collins?
Jarron Collins is so bad that even Jason Collins is better than him! Sick burn! Pelton explains:
Alvin Gentry started Collins in place of Lopez on Sunday, and Minnesota outscored Phoenix by 11 points with the Stanford product on the floor. Any minutes going to Collins are too many (his net plus-minus, albeit in garbage time, is a dismal -11.4)
Collins' presence, even for limited minutes, is enough to convince me the Suns are in trouble.
With that in mind, I've decided to take a look at possible D-League options that are big enough to allow Stoudemire to stay at the power froward spot and at least as deserving of an NBA roster spot as Collins.
(in alphabetical order)
Lance Allred (6'11", 260 - 13.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 50% FG) - Allred is the most cerebral player on this list and a willing role player - two qualities that should be looked at when calling up a D-Leaguer. He also endeared himself enough to the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2007-08 season to earn himself a 10-day call-up before being signed for the remainder of that season as well as being active for the majority of their playoff games (while averaging similar stats to this seasons output). He probably fits the power forward position better than the center position, but he's been shown to be able to adapt quite well. What's he good at? Everything. What's he great at?
Nothing Writing books.
Rod Benson (6'11", 235 - 14.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 1.4 spg, 52% FG) - Benson deserves an opportunity somewhere and the Suns seem to like fan-friendly social media guys. Perfect fit. Well, "Boom Tho" also had an amazing month of March - he averaged 15.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.9 blocks. Benson sums up his game as getting "buckets, boards and blocks." Benson has quit blogging until the end of the season, meaning that is no longer the issue he isn't getting called up, leaving NBA GM's without much of an excuse to continue ignoring him. BONUS: He also namedrops me in music videos, obviously another reason he should be called up.
John Bryant (6'11", 300 - 13.5, 9.6, 1.5 bpg, 49% FG) - Bryant would definitely be a darkhorse candidate, but one I'd be remiss not to include simply because he's humongous, he can shoot and he's only 22-years-old - just in case the Suns would by chance use this opportunity to find their next end of the bench/Summer League option. He was the WCC Player of the Year last season and anchors the defense that allows the lowest 2-point field goal percentage in the D-League.
Dwayne Jones (6'11", 250 - 17.6 ppg, 15.9 rpg, 1.8 blg, 60% FG, 40 mpg) - Jones' numbers are misleading. His rebounds are inflated due to 6.2 offensive boards (his best quality) and his points mostly come from the foul line (he can't score in the low post, but consistently gets hacked anyway - it's astounding). He's had tryouts with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks already this season, but didn't stick either time. For what it's worth, he was drafted by the Cavaliers after playing on the great St. Joseph's team (Jameer Nelson, Delonte West and him) and has played in 80 career NBA games.
Greg Stiemsma (6'11", 260 - 8.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.5 bpg, 52% FG, 86% FT, 28 mpg) - Those numbers aren't outstanding, but he is a starter on one of the top teams in the D-League - it's just a crowded front court that also includes Suns camp invite Raymond Sykes and former NBAer Alexander Johnson. He's also accustomed to doing the dirty work while his power forward starter gets all of the attention (Johnson is averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds from the 4-spot), which means he'll be able to get to Phoenix and play the same role he has been all season in the D-League. Offensively, Stiemsma probably won't contribute much - he knows his limitations are on that end of the floor so he he doesn't try to do anything more than what he's capable. Defensively, he's a great help defender and big enough to hold his own down low. Obviously, his 3.5 blocks are great, but watching him play, he attempts to alter every shot within the paint. This sometimes results in getting the big fella in foul trouble, but if he's not being counted on for 35 minutes a game, that shouldn't be a problem. As far as NBA-experience, he doesn't have any, though he did have a decent Summer League with the Grizzlies, culminating in this showdown with Blake Griffin (brother of Taylor).