Frye’s extraordinary development on display

Mar 23, 2011, 8:39 PM | Updated: 11:05 pm

With eight seconds left in overtime, the Phoenix Suns are losing to the Los Angeles Lakers 118-121. Who takes the shot?

Before the second half of this season, the answer likely would not have been Channing Frye. Heck, before February 27, not many fans would have believed Alvin Gentry if the coach had looked them in the eyes and told them the power forward was taking the shot.

Frye has come a long way since July 2009, when he first signed with the Suns, and an even longer way since he signed a 5-year, $30 million deal last offseason. So much so that every Suns fan watching Tuesday night’s triple overtime thriller knew who was getting the ball with those precious seconds left on the clock.

He didn’t re-enact his February magic, though, when he put the shot up. Instead, Nash had to retrieve the offensive rebound and toss it back to Frye, who was fouled by Lamar Odom and given the chance to tie the game with three huge free throws.

He stepped up to the line, confidently, and made one, two and three.

Game tied.

Frye’s extraordinary development complete.

“He has raised his game to a completely different level,” Suns president Lon Babby said on Sports 620 KTAR’s Doug and Wolf show Wednesday morning. “I had no doubt he was going to make those free throws when he had a chance to tie up the game in overtime and I’m not sure we would have felt that way earlier in the season.”

Despite Tuesday’s game resulting in a heavy loss for the Suns, Frye scored a career-high 32 points to go along with 14 rebounds, further reinforcing the team’s vision of him as a scorer all season long.

“Absolutely Channing has risen to a new level, I think in part because he sees the effort it takes and the work ethic it requires,” Babby said.

A dislocated right shoulder sidelined Frye for two weeks and threatened to limit his production for the team. Instead, Frye worked through the injury and hasn’t disappointed in the three games since his return, averaging 22.7 points and nine rebounds.

When evaluating the way Frye has stepped up this season, most overlook the role models who surround the young player in the Suns’ locker room. The chance to study the ways Steve Nash and Grant Hill dedicate themselves to the game and to their teammates is one that Babby says Frye is lucky to have.

“You can never underestimate the importance of having professionals on your team that set the role model [and] that set the tone,” Babby said. “I think a big piece of Channing’s development is the leadership that he sees from Grant and Steve.”

But, there was still added pressure for the former Arizona Wildcat after signing the multi-year deal over the summer.

Frye’s ability to respond positively to the new contract is one that Babby recognizes not necessarily as an exception, but as the right kind of example.

“Lots of players make the mistake of trying to be something they’re not because they think they have to live up to a contract,” Babby said. “Channing is an important piece of what we do here, we recognize that and I think he has responded with the way you want any player to respond.”

With the Suns still three games out of the final playoff spot in the West, Babby is confident the team will continue to fight all the way to the end.

Based on how he’s been working and performing all season, Frye’s a good bet to continue his recent hot streak and finish the season strong.

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns fans cheer on Suns guard Devin Booker after he scored against the Chicago Bulls during...
Arizona Sports

Devin Booker, Monty Williams named best in West for the month

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has been named Western Conference Player of the Month, the league announced on Thursday.
1 day ago
Los Angeles Lakers guard Patrick Beverley after shoving Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton at Footpr...
Arizona Sports

Lakers’ Patrick Beverley would shove Suns’ Deandre Ayton all over again

Patrick Beverley has no regrets for his shove of Deandre Ayton that resulted in a three-game suspension for the guard.
1 day ago
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks handles the ball against Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Sun...
Kevin Zimmerman

Devin Booker finds himself in a mess of an NBA MVP race

Devin Booker is among the top players on the top teams. But there is much room for the NBA MVP candidacies to shift this season.
1 day ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the second half of the NBA game against the Chica...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker scores different type of 50 in Suns’ win over Bulls

Devin Booker has now scored 50 points in four different games but Wednesday's for the Phoenix Suns was unique.
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, drives past Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams (44) duri...
Alex Weiner

Suns’ Devin Booker eclipses 50 points in 3 quarters during win vs. Bulls

Suns star Devin Booker scored 51 points in three quarters, including 26 points in the third period, Wednesday vs. Chicago.
2 days ago
Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Maverick...
Alex Weiner

Suns GM James Jones staying patient, having Jae Crowder trade talks

Suns GM James Jones said he is having ongoing conversations surrounding Jae Crowder but is waiting for the right deal to emerge.
2 days ago
Frye’s extraordinary development on display