The case for Chase

Could Chase dunking in US Airways Center become a common occurence next season? (Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

Could Chase dunking in US Airways Center become a common occurence next season? (Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

Chase Budinger.

ASU and Arizona fans don’t often agree on much, but the majority of fans from both schools would certainly prefer that the Suns stay far, far away from the UA swingman.

Wildcat fans don’t want him because they have seen him blossom into a very good college player but not the superstar who shared co-MVP honors of his McDonald’s Game with a guy you may have heard of by the name of Kevin Durant.

They’ve seen his lackluster lateral quickness and perimeter defense, and they’ve seen him forget how to shoot time and time again in big games.

Sun Devil fans don’t want him because the opponent in those big games was often ASU, and his drafting would be seen as the next step taken by a couple good old Wildcats named Robert and Steve in wrecking their once proud franchise.

I don’t think the Suns will pick Chase nor do I think they should, but you’re kidding yourself if you think there’s no way it could happen., the draft site I trust most, tabbed Chase at No. 14 in a previous mock. The only major site to accurately predict the Suns’ pick last year, The Sporting News, currently has the Suns taking Chase, while other big sites are all over the map on Phoenix’s pick. 

Not only did Budinger spend three years at Kerr’s alma mater, but he also grew up in San Diego, not far from Kerr. When Budinger interviews with other teams he’s talking to strangers, but when he speaks with Kerr and the Suns it’s like he’s speaking with family.

I strongly believe Kerr is one of the main reasons Chase went back to school last year. Budinger would have gone if he had any indication he would be a top-20 pick, but for once he was a player who got the right information that he’d be better off going back. Where do you think that info came from?

On one hand, Chase would be a fabulous fit for the Suns, and in fact at one point last year I was hoping Phoenix would target him at No. 15, even if that was being a tad homerish for a guy I covered in his first two years as a collegiate athlete.

Chase is a magnificent open-floor athlete who would be a perfect fit next to Steve Nash.  His beautiful jumper with three-point range would do wonders for a Suns team that had issues spacing the floor last year, and it should come as no surprise that he put up the third-best vertical leap of any player at the combine (38.5 inches).

He also developed a reputation for being “soft” from the moment he stepped foot onto campus in Tucson for an Arizona team that was called exactly that by more people than just former Sun Sean Singletary.

There’s no question he has the look of a soft player right down to his pasty white skin that complements a California cool demeanor on the court. He sometimes might look like he doesn’t care, but he really does and very much so.

That reputation has seemed to stick to Chase tougher than Herb Sendek’s zone, at least until Houston’s Aubrey Coleman stepped on his face and Chase immediately responded the way you would expect Rafer Alston to do so, by getting back up in his face and then leading his team to a season-changing victory.

Chase is the type of player who actually takes a moment to ponder the question before blurting out his answer to the media, and when you ask him about that soft reputation you can see the hurt in his eyes.

I wouldn’t call anybody who put in the kind of grueling beach workouts Chase did to improve his strength anything close to “soft.”

Of course, the reason the Suns shouldn’t draft Budinger is because his defense would fit in with Phoenix’s current club too well.

Scouts have described him as a player with “alligator arms” due to his lacking wingspan and former UA coach Kevin O’Neill often talked about how he’s a player with off-the-charts vertical athleticism but pretty mediocre lateral athleticism.

As much as he tries, Chase will likely never be anything more than a mediocre NBA defender, although I think he can and will be a productive offensive player in this league with his combination of size (6-7), shooting ability and athleticism to go with a very high basketball IQ.

Budinger probably wouldn’t be the best pick for a Suns team needing a potent dose of defense, but his offensive game fits Phoenix well enough that such a pick would be far from a disaster.

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