Draft day is finally here, and what a day this is shaping up to be.
We know Shaq is gone, and he might not be the only the ex-Sun by the end of the day.
Phoenix could deal its lottery pick or another player, or the Shaq trade could end up being the trading highlight of the offseason for the franchise.
If the Suns do stand pat at No. 14, they will likely have many choices.
They could go with a big like B.J. Mullens to make up for the loss of Shaq, a lightning-quick guard like Brandon Jennings if he’s still around, or one of the bevy of swingmen such as Earl Clark, James Johnson, Austin Daye, Terrence Williams or Chase Budinger.
The following is what we at ValleyoftheSuns would do if these players were available later today:
Schwartz: Earl Clark
David Griffin made it clear who would break a tie if such a situation arises later this evening in the Suns’ draft room.
The same man who was all but frothing at the mouth when talking about the play of Louisville forward Earl Clark after Saturday’s workout.
Yes, Steve Kerr certainly seems infatuated with the versatile forward, and why wouldn’t he be when you consider Clark’s ability to shoot it, drive it, create for teammates and play tough defense against big guys and little guys alike?
In short, he’s Matrix 2.0, except at close to 6-10.
And wouldn’t it be ironic if the Suns brought back their own version of Trix the day after shipping out the Shaqtus?
Clark should be able to grow into a Marion-like role, banging with the Tim Duncans of the world on one play and then getting out on the Tony Parkers the next.
Kerr was particularly impressed with the way Clark could stay in front of Parker-quick Brandon Jennings at Saturday’s workout.
“As big as Earl is, that’s not an easy thing to do,” Kerr said, “but it’s an important skill in the NBA, to be able to switch onto smaller guys and guard them.”
The Suns sorely missed that defensive versatility when an aging Grant Hill played the Matrix role, and nobody else seemed to care too much about D.
Clark would be a perfect fit for the Suns as a future three when Hill retires (or if he doesn’t return) who could slide over to the four in a small ball alignment just like, you guessed it, the Matrix.
It would be just like the old days with Amare and Clark beating opposing fours and fives down the floor all day.
Clark is used to playing at a breakneck pace after spending his college years under Rick Pitino, and in his interview Saturday he seemed to relish a return to that type of system.
Not that I’m one to put much stock into the whole premise of the so-called “draft promise,” but word is the Suns have promised Clark that he won’t slip past 14.
The Suns have craved a defensive Swiss Army knife like Clark since the day they traded Matrix 1.0.
Why would anyone think anything differently if the Matrix Reloaded is still sitting around when the Suns are on the clock?
Haraway: Brandon Jennings
If Brandon Jennings falls to the Suns at No. 14, he will have fallen awfully far. That being said, he should be their guy if he does.
We all saw what Goran Dragic is capable of, even when he played well. Best-case scenario for him, he’s a viable backup point guard in this league. He’s no Tony Parker, and he never will be.
The Suns should recognize that. With Steve Nash aging, they could really use a playmaker like Jennings. He’s explosive and has experience in a league that is probably more taxing on point guard than the NBA is. This is the type of guy who can flourish in a system like Alvin Gentry’s. He may not be deemed NBA-ready by scouts yet, but that year in Italy did nothing but help him, even compared to skipping a season at Arizona.
Some Web sites have listed him as a possible Tony Parker analog. Nothing wrong with that, as we well know. He’d probably be the most athletic player the Suns have had since they dealt Shawn Marion. Pair that with Amar’e and the run-and-gun system, and you may have yourself a steal at 14, if he lasts that long.
Of course with rumors of Kerr keeping Nash around, this pick may make less sense “filling a need” as it does drafting the player who is the most talented at that spot in the draft. The beauty about Jennings is that some of his criticisms include playing too fast and hectic and committing too many turnovers. It might benefit him to play under one of the best point guards of all time and also get some minutes at shooting guard, where he can use his speed and explosiveness to get open looks. He plays decent defense, so he’s not the liability Nash is in that regard, either.
His shooting is above average, which bodes well for any player donning the purple and orange, where even bad shooters can be successful (see Quentin Richardson). All of this, plus the idea of making our slow, at times lethargic, Suns more athletic and explosive like the days of old makes him my favorite for the crucial pick the Suns face. Now to just hope he drops as far as some experts feel he will, coming off a very mediocre season in Italy.
Schmitz: Terrence Williams
By looking at mock drafts around the net as well as the latest VotS poll (thank you to my two voters), Terrence Williams is clearly not the “popular” choice for the Suns’ 14th pick.
The good thing is, the Suns’ front office chooses the players, not the fans.
Hopefully as the front office continues to evaluate the talent pool, they take a close look at former Louisville forward Terrence Williams.
T-Will is a big (6-6, 213 lbs.), long (6-9 wingspan), athletic wing (37-inch vertical), with great intangibles.
He is the prototypical point forward. He can score (12.5 ppg), pass (5.0 apg), rebound (8.6 rpg), and defend (2.3 spg).
Along with his physical tools, Williams wants to be the best, boasting a tremendous work ethic. He currently works out with former NBA great Gary Payton in Las Vegas in hopes of maximizing his full potential.
People talk about not drafting for a need, but drafting the best available player. The good thing about T-Will is that he addresses so many of the Suns’ needs, yet he has the potential and upside to develop into an All-Star.
If Dragic continues to struggle after Nash is gone, Williams can use his versatility to handle some of the point guard duties as well.
If J-Rich gets shipped off for cap space, Williams is “NBA ready” enough to step in and start as early as next season.
Even if Grant Hill re-signs and J-Rich, Amar’e and Nash are back, Williams’ energy and intensity would make the Suns’ second unit backcourt one of the most dynamic in the league with Barbosa, Dragic and himself.
Think of the speed and athleticism of a Barbosa-J-Rich-T-Will combination next year … absolutely lethal.
Because T-Will is such a standout passer, rebounder, defender, and athlete, he will be able to step in right away as a role player, and develop into a starter with time.
If the Suns were to draft Terrence Williams they essentially receive:
- A lock-down perimeter defender.
- A terrific rebounder.
- Another backup point guard and playmaker.
- An heir to Grant Hill’s small forward spot.
- A “fire starter” and a team-first guy.
- Someone who can play right away as a role player.
- Someone who can develop into a franchise player in the future.
The guy can literally do it all on the court and would fit perfectly in the Suns’ up-tempo style.
Because of his versatility, skill-set, intensity and work ethic, Terrence Williams is who I would choose if I were Steve Kerr come Thursday evening’s NBA Draft.