Editor’s Note: Today we bring you an assessment of the Suns’ future from friend-of-the-website Aaron Swetnam. Follow him on twitter at @bonitagame, and enjoy his take on the upcoming draft!
The Suns have reached an impasse. In the course of one year, the team has gone from loveable contender to somewhat of an afterthought. It is amazing how quickly a transition like this can happen but losing an All Star power forward and then making a bevy of curious moves can change your outlook considerably. It looks like the Suns will be picking 13th in this upcoming draft but they could move in several directions. They could stand pat and draft one player they like in that range and try to continue to milk the cash cow that is Steve Nash or they could begin stockpiling assets because our long term outlook looks bleak. Most players that contribute on this team are well into their 30’s and most of the younger players are niche players that do not have the bright lights of stardom in their future. That being said, let’s look at what the Suns could do if they stay put and what they could do if they decide to do some major Spring cleaning.
Stay the Course!
If the Suns decide a little continuity is best for this team, they could look in countless directions with the 13th pick. The Suns are 27th in the league in opponent points per game and 24th in rebounds per game. It’s obvious that this team needs help on the glass and the defensive end and as a Suns fan myself; it would be nice to not be continually reminded of this every game. It’s bad enough to watch your team give up one offensive rebound after another, it is even worse when Marc Jackson tells me about it in a monotone fashion. Time will tell how good or bad this draft may be depending on who comes out but there are a few players available at 13 that could fit the Suns needs.
Kawhi Leonard SF San Diego State
It is feasible that next season the Suns only wings would be Jared Dudley and Josh Childress. I love Dudley as a player and always love the effort that Childress gives but that group is not going to strike fear into the opposition. Kawhi could bring a few intangibles to the table that the Suns desperately need. First of all, he can create for himself and he showed in the tournament that he has a good in-between game. For a team in desperate need of rebounding, Kawhi can provide this is bunches as well. He may not have the second jump of Shawn Marion but he attacks the glass similarly and at a comparable size. Finally, Kawhi puts in a good effort on defense and should help stop the bleeding on the perimeter a bit. Anything would be an improvement over the Emo –style defensive effort that Vince puts in nightly.
Alec Burks SG Colorado
Keeping with the thought of wings, let me present another one to y’all. If Alec Burks was a little stronger and was a better jump shooter, he would be a top 10 pick, guaranteed. The good thing is that he is not a lost cause by any means. He is a little ball dominant at times for my liking but he has a skill that all NBA teams covet, the ability to create for himself. He is great in isolation and can take it to the rim with both hands and a pretty firm handle. I also like his overall athleticism combined with his length and first step. If anything, I believe he should be able to penetrate in the league and he is also adept at finding his teammates. If he can ever get a consistent jump shot, he could be dangerous and would keep defenses on their heels. That is an “if” of course though.
Jordan Hamilton SF Texas
Another wing you say? Why, yes! With Vince Carter’s corpse gone, we need to fill a little bit of a void on the wings offensively. I don’t always like the shots that Hamilton takes but he can fill it up. He has deep range but can also kill you off the dribble. I also like his rebounding ability and overall scrappiness for his position too. My only concern beyond being a bit of a chucker is on the defensive end. I worry about him on the defensive end, especially covering the athletes that he will see at his position in the pros. Hamilton’s lateral quickness is not that great and he doesn’t seem to be dialed in all that often. He may end up being one-dimensional as a pro but with a lack of scoring on the perimeter; the Suns may need to take that gamble if some of the other players I listed are off the board.