The Phoenix Suns desperately need to hit a home run with the 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, not just for the team’s slowly dwindling future, but for its oft-criticized front office as well.
Ever since Lon Babby and Lance Blanks joined forces to replace Steve Kerr, there have been very few victories in terms of personnel.
Yes, the front office was able to acquire cornerstone center Marcin Gortat, but that was barely enough of a Band-Aid to cover up the trio he replaced Amare Stoudemire with — Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress.
And then there’s the Goran Dragic-Aaron Brooks trade, when the Babby/Blanks duo was sold that Dragic was not point-guard-of-the-future material. They thought Brooks and his streaky offense and no-defense game would lift the Suns into the playoffs.
A few months later, the Suns have no potential point guard of the future, one less first-round draft pick at their disposal and must mull Brooks’ worth as he’s a restricted free agent looking for a sizable check. Needless to say, Babby and Blanks have struggled to make a positive impact in Phoenix.
Robert Sarver is already regarded as one of the league’s lesser owners, and Babby and Blanks certainly haven’t helped his case. But if there’s ever a time to rebuild their reputation it’s this Thursday.
The Suns are notoriously poor on draft day. They’ve traded five first-round draft picks since 2004 and the three they kept were Earl Clark (Orlando Magic), Alando Tucker (out of the NBA) and Robin Lopez (barely functioning).
With that said, Babby and Blanks need to land a young, potential cornerstone to not only erase Phoenix’s poor draft history, but also to start a track record of positive personnel moves. Since Blanks is supposed to be the heralded talent evaluator, it’s up to him to decide whether Tristan Thompson, Markieff Morris or Bismack Biyombo has a brighter future.
If the Suns decide to go with a guard or wing player, he needs to be able to decipher if Jimmer Fredette can carry his NCAA success to the pros at the point guard position, or if guys like Klay Thompson or Alec Burks will pan out in the NBA.
He’s supposed to be the player personnel figurehead, and there’s no better time for that to shine through than Thursday’s draft.
Babby, on the other hand, is the so-called negotiation master. Yes, his presence is supposedly going to be most felt once the new CBA is in place, but it’s time for that ‘window into every organization’ that he talked about having because of his career as an agent to finally pay off.
The Suns could use a power forward AND a scoring two-guard with go-to-guy potential, so it’s up to Babby to swing a deal. That’s obviously the best-case scenario, and priority No. 1 should be selecting the right guy at 13. But according to The Republic, it sounds like Babby is doing everything in his power to see what’s on the trade market.
“We are in constant conversation all day, every day with virtually every team in the league, trying to see if there’s anything we need to get an additional pick or if there are other ways to improve our team,” Babby said.
With the draft on the horizon, it’s make or break time for the Suns front office. While it’s going to be tough for Sarver to turn around his reputation, Babby and Blanks still have time to prove themselves and take the first step in turning Phoenix into an annual winner on draft day.