Six years into his NBA career, Channing Frye has remade himself as a basketball player. Of course, he did the same in his fifth year, and for a guy whose career was heading south it could not have come at a better time, for him and his team.
The Suns, middling along at 27-27, have picked up their play of late. Winners of seven of their last 10, the playoffs are back within sight, and Frye’s play in the month of February has been a major reason why.
“He’s done a good job for us defensively, which has helped tremendously,” head coach Alvin Gentry said before the team’s game with Dallas last Thursday.
Defensively. Now there’s a word you don’t expect to hear in reference to the Phoenix Suns, and especially not when talking about the lanky Frye. He is, after all, a 6’11”, 245 pounder who took 392 three pointers last season, making 172. But, Frye said, he does not want the three ball to be the only thing he does.
“I don’t want to pigeon hole myself as a player, I feel like, you know, if we need a couple post ups let me get a touch down there,” Frye said. “I’m not going to shoot it every time — I like passing, I like assists, so for me I just challenge myself and continue to try to use the skills I learned in college and high school and while I was in the pros and just use them all.”
Frye has honed his skills during various stops in his career, many of which have been in the state of Arizona. A St. Mary’s High product, he spent four years in Tucson playing for Lute Olson and the University of Arizona, where he is second all-time in blocked shots, third in rebounds and 10th in free throws made, while taking a grand total of 17 three pointers in four seasons. Not exactly numbers that one could have used to foresee a role as a three-point shooter at the next level.
“Yeah, Coach O was no joke,” Frye said. “It was like boom; get one block, this side and no baseline shots. You know the three thing came along, I started shooting jumpers and that was kind of my thing.”
Frye, who said he knew he wouldn’t always be bigger than whoever he was matched up against, figured his niche would be as a stretch-big who could help space the floor. However, after being drafted by the New York Knicks 8th overall in 2005 and then traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007, his role was as undefined as it was unsuited to his game.