Phoenix Suns 2012 NBA Draft Preview: Options at No. 13 and who to select


Could the Suns land Kendall Marshall to be the heir to Steve Nash's throne?

Last year Lance Blanks’ NBA Draft duties were simple: select the best available power forward.

With Steve Nash at point, Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez anchoring the five spot, and more wing options than a menu at Zipps Sports Grill, it wasn’t difficult to pinpoint Phoenix’s biggest area of need.

Blanks, Lon Babby, Alvin Gentry and the rest of the Suns staff went with the proven commodity in Markieff Morris, who turned out to be a solid pick considering the flashes he showed during his rookie season – although there’s no question Phoenix has to be kicking itself for passing on Kenneth Faried and even Kawhi Leonard.

This year leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft, however, Blanks and his staff don’t have it so easy.

With Steve Nash’s fate still undetermined and the rest of the roster in question, the Suns don’t have that one obvious void that needs to be filled.

Simply put, Phoenix’s roster has more holes than a slice of Swiss, meaning the Suns could go several directions when the 13th pick rolls around on Thursday, June 28.

Luckily for Phoenix, this year’s class is oozing with talent, giving the Suns a multitude of options — at virtually every position — when choosing that prospect they hope them turn around their bleak future.

With that said, here’s a breakdown of three players at each position that the Suns could have a shot at with the 13th pick:

Point Guards

The Reach: Damian Lillard

School: Weber State:

Age: 21

Height/Weight: 6-2, 185

Kendall Marshall may be the best passer in the draft, Tony Wroten Jr. may have the most upside, but Lillard is the total package at the point guard spot. He’s explosive driving to the rack and deadly from distance, not to mention he’s a solid assist man (4.0 per game) and rebounder (5.1 per contest).

Lillard can flat-out fill it up as he went for 30 or more seven times last season while eclipsing the 40-point mark twice. He’s nearly impossible to keep out of the lane with an explosive first step, he’ll dunk over you at the cup, yet he’ll splash a three in your face from the parking lot.

Yes, he didn’t face top-notch competition at Weber State but ranking second in the nation in scoring on only 15.5 shots per game is tough to do. According to Weber State head coach Randy Rahe he can improve as a passer as well as on the defensive end, but he’s a high-character kid with a relentless work ethic and a bright future in the NBA.

Lillard is expected to be a top-10 pick, but considering the Nash situation it would be hard for the Suns to pass on the Oakland product if he falls to 13.

The More Realistic Choice: Kendall Marshall

Age: 20

School: UNC

Height/Weight: 6-4, 188

Marshall is more likely to be available than Lillard, and if that’s the case the Suns couldn’t be disappointed with the former Tar Heel.  His court vision is second-to-none (see 9.7 assists per game) and he plays with the pace and poise of an NBA veteran.

The transition from UNC to Phoenix wouldn’t be a tough one considering the Tar Heels played at the same breakneck pace. Marshall has a little Jason Kidd in him given his size, below the rim game, and vision.

Marshall does, however, lack athletic upside, lateral quickness and shooting range or touch. He’s not going to break defenders down off the dribble, and there are questions about how high his ceiling is. Regardless of his lack of upside, Marshall is as much of a sure thing as there is at the point guard spot and he’ll most likely be an NBA starter for years to come.

The Risk: Tony Wroten

Age: 18

School: Washington

Height/Weight: 6-5, 205

If Wroten reaches his sky-high potential he could eventually be the best point guard to come out of the 2012 class. He’s strong, quick and impossible to keep out of the lane. He has tremendous vision and big-time potential as a defender. Wroten showed flashes of greatness in the Pac-12 last year and took home the conference Freshman of the Year award while making First Team All-Pac-12 as well.

However (Stephen A. Smith voice), he is a turnover waiting to happen — 3.9 per game last season — and has zero range on his jump shot. He’s also been criticized for not always giving maximum effort and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be successful as a point guard or shooting guard at the NBA level. If the Suns want to take a point guard they can gamble on in hopes of catching lighting in a bottle, Wroten is their guy.

Shooting Guard

The Reach: Jeremy Lamb

Age: 20

School: UConn

Height/Weight: 6-5, 185

It’s hard to call any shooting guards a reach, likely candidate, or risk at No. 13 because after Bradley Beal they’re mostly all in the same tier. But for the sake of this post, we’ll call Lamb the reach, as he’s one of the most proven and accomplished shooting guards of the bunch.

Although he had a down year last year shooting the ball, in terms of pure mechanics he’s arguably the best shooter in the draft save maybe John Jenkins. His stroke is effortless and he’s had NBA range since he stepped foot on UConn’s campus.

His 7-foot wingspan also gives him great potential on the defensive end and as soon as he adds some muscle to his 6-foot-5 frame he could be a lockdown defender who could guard multiple positions. Lamb has a ton of upside given his measurables and he’s a very good athlete who can get to the rim off the dribble, come off screens and shoot it a little off the bounce.

Although he’s a quiet kid Jim Calhoun said he’s a tireless worker who will undoubtedly put in the effort. If he falls to 13, the Suns could have their new starting shooting guard in Jeremy Lamb.

The Likely Candidate: Terrence Ross

Age: 21

School: Washington

Height/Weight: 6-6, 195

In a world of combo guards and smaller twos, Terrence Ross is the most traditional shooting guard in the draft. He has great size and is a phenomenal athlete who can create his own shot and fill it up from deep. He should have been Pac-12 Player of the Year after a 16.4-point, 6.4-rebound season while playing on the regular season conference champions and his game translates perfectly to the NBA.

Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar likened him to a J.R. Smith or Nick Young-type minus the ego. If the Suns decide to go shooting guard, Ross is the guy who will most likely be around as he didn’t have the national exposure of an Austin Rivers or Jeremy Lamb while up in Seattle. But Ross could end up being the best pro in the crop of shooting guards, and even only after two college seasons he’s as NBA ready as any two guard in the class.

The Risk: Austin Rivers

Age: 19

School: Duke

Height/Weight: 6-4, 199

Rivers has been in around the 13th pick on mock drafts since the NCAA season ended, making him the likely candidate here. He’s a combo guard in the truest sense of the word and can flat-out shoot it from deep. Rivers can also create his own shot with a patented killer crossover.

He obviously has great pedigree as the son of Doc Rivers and has the makeup of a potential superstar. He plays with intensity and confidence — borderline cockiness — and is fairly NBA ready despite playing only one season at Duke.

The questions are: is he a point guard or a shooting guard, can he co-exist without reaching his shot quota and can he defend, especially bigger shooting guards. But the Suns have been missing a playmaker at the shooting guard spot since Joe Johnson left, and with Rivers’ ability to play a little point guard as well, he could very well be Phoenix’s choice if he falls to them.

Small Forward

The Reach: Terrrence Jones

Age 20

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6-8, 244

Jones is more of a four than a three, but with the lack of middle of the road small forwards along with scouts’ uncertainty of his position, we’ll call him a three. Jones is undoubtedly a top-five talent in the draft. He’s powerful, athletic, and long with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and can shoot the three ball, handle the ball, rebound, and block shots.

Needless to say, he can do it all on the floor and proved that in two seasons at Kentucky. But where Jones lacks is the mental side of the game. He’s struggled with his motor, body language, and willingness to be a spectator on the floor. Even with that said, Jones is expected to be a mid-to-high lottery pick, but if those questions carry too much weight, the Suns could steal him at No. 13 and land a multi-talented big man with a world of upside.

The Likely Candidate: Moe Harkless

Age: 19

School: St. John’s

Height/Weight: 6-8, 190

Harkless had a monster freshman season with the Red Storm, averaging 15.3 points and 8.6 boards while playing with a boatload of freshmen through Steve Lavin’s health issues. He’s everything you’d want in a small forward: long, athletic, and explosive with great potential on the defensive end — 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks — and the ability to get out and run and finish at the rim.

Harkless is a difference-maker on the floor and an athletic specimen. He’s pegged to go in the late teens or early 20s of the draft, and is the next highest-rated true small forward after Harrison Barnes. Harkless does need to add strength to his frame and become a better shooter, but he has great upside and proved his worth in only one year at the college level.

The Risk: Quincy Miller

Age: 19

School: Baylor

Height/Weight: 6-9, 210

Before tearing his ACL heading into his senior year of high school, Miller was one of the higher rated recruits in the country. The injury stripped him of some athleticism during his freshman season at Baylor, which is why he fits the risk category.

His measurables and skill set, however, have nothing risky about them. Miller’s 6-foot-9 frame is perfect for an NBA small forward although he will have to add some muscle. His 7-foot-4 wingspan is flat out scary and will allow him to guard small forwards and power forwards while potentially wreaking havoc in the passing lanes.

Miller is phenomenal operating from 15 feet and in and can handle the ball extremely well for a player his size. He has range out to three-point land and a decent mid-range game. If Miller regains his athleticism, he’s a lottery talent. If not, whoever drafts him could be regretting it.

Power Forwards

The Reach: Perry Jones

Age: 20

School: Baylor

Height/Weight: 6-11, 235

Jones has the talent to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. He’s a jack of all trades and has the handle and fluidity of a shooting guard in the body of a power forward.

He can shoot it from three, take it to the rack, operate on the post, and finish around the rim. But the problem is he’s not exactly great at one thing and lacks the motor to become a big-time player. Because of those question marks he could fall into the late lottery where the Suns could take a chance on a kid with a world of potential.

The Likely Candidate: Arnett Moultrie

Age: 21

School: Mississippi State

Height/Weight: 6-11, 225

Like Jones, Moultrie has the skills of a guard yet the size of a big man. He’s one of the most unique players in the draft in that he’s a freak athlete with good skills and has yet to scratch the surface of his potential even after transferring from UTEP and making the rounds in the collegiate circuit.

The difference between Moultrie and Jones is that he has a good motor and crashes the glass hard. He can also stretch it to three-point range where he’s steadily improving. He’s been slotted in the mid-teens and the Suns could get a steal if Moultrie’s skills translate as planned to the NBA.

The Risk: Royce White

Age: 21

School: Iowa State

Height/Weight: 6-8, 240

Speaking of unique skill sets, White is the biggest question mark in the draft. He led Iowa State in all five major categories in his only season with the program after transferring from Minnesota.

He’s a true point forward with uncanny vision who can also finish inside and rebound the rock. White is one of the more special talents the college game has seen in a while, yet his anxiety disorder is keeping teams from taking a risk on him.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said White was a model citizen and worked with kids of the same disorder to help them deal with what he’s dealt with.

From his perspective the character is certainly there, but will the success in the NBA and longevity in the league follow? If the risk paid off, the Suns could nab a lottery talent.

Center

The Reach: Jared Sullinger

Age: 20

School: Ohio State

Height/Weight: 6-9, 280

Sullinger showcased his skills on the grandest of stages at Ohio State and it’s no secret he’s a traditional big man who is a load on the block, crashes the glass, and can even stretch the floor a little bit.

He’ll most likely play the four in the NBA and is expected to be a top-10 pick. Sullinger understands the game, has an array of post moves and if he stays in shape could be an All-Star sooner rather than later.

But he’s not a great athlete, plays below the rim, and could end up being Glen Davis 2.0. Overall however he’s one of the most sought after power forwards/centers even in the realm of Phoenix’s possibilities and they’d have to think long and hard if he fell to them.

The Likely Candidate: Tyler Zeller

Age: 22

School: UNC

Height/Weight: 7-0, 250

The ACC Player of the Year is the most proven commodity at center, outside of Anthony Davis, in the draft. He’s smart, agile, a load on the block, a great rebounder and a high-character kid. Zeller runs the floor as well as any big man in the game and gets after it on the defensive end.

He’s not a great athlete but he can stretch it to nearly 20 feet and will most likely be a more than serviceable center in the league for years to come. If the Suns want to beef up their front line and he’s around, Zeller could be the man to do it.

The Risk: Meyers Leonard

Age: 20

School: Illinois

Height/Weight: 7-0, 240

Leonard is an interesting prospect as he has all the makings to be a really good center in the NBA. He’s extremely athletic for his size, can run the floor, is a great shot blocker and defensive presence, can finish with both hands around the basket and is a really solid rebounder.

But Leonard is extremely raw in terms of his post moves and shooting stroke and could be more of a long-term project given his limited college experience and undeveloped game. If the Suns want someone they can work with and possibly develop into an athletic presence in the middle, Leonard is the guy to go with.

Recommendation

For those of you who made it through all of that, here’s my recommendation:

While the Suns have a handful of needs they could address with this deep draft, it’s clear they need an heir to Nash’s throne. Sebastian Telfair clearly isn’t the answer and If Lillard or Marshall is around, pull the trigger. If they’re off the board, take Jeremy Lamb or Terrence Ross as they project the best in terms of becoming starting NBA shooting guards, which is one of the Suns’ many needs.

If all of those options are gone, which they most likely won’t be, it’s a crapshoot. In a nutshell the Suns need a replacement for Nash and if that’s gone try and grab high upside guards like Lamb or Ross. Then if they’re gone it’s on to the best available approach.

While the Suns didn’t have much to work with last season at No. 13, this draft is indeed loaded and if the Phoenix front office can’t make a solid choice this year then its members should probably reconsider their career choice.

Tags: Draft Phoenix Suns Analysis

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    A lot of things people say about Marshall now are what they said about Steve Nash coming out of Santa Clara.

    Flip side of that, if you look at Lillard’s numbers compared to Nash’s coming out, they’re pretty similar.

    Nash also did a lot of scoring for Santa Clara and only averaged 4.5 dimes while at the school. I see Lillard in that same mold where, yes he scored a lot in college but he did it because he had to.

    If the Suns aren’t going to go out and pay a young guard to come in, then if Lillard is on the board you have to take him.

    Still, I’d much rather the Suns go out and get a Dragon and Draft a Jones or Sullinger or Rivers or anybody not at the point guard slot. 2 birds, one year type of thing.

  • Bill-in-Tokyo

    What choice the Suns make is conditional on what players they expect (will) to have next year. 1: With Nash/ no Hill, they need a scorer and defensive SG/SF. 2: With Nash/Hill/ no Frye, a spread the floor/rebounder PF. So Terrence Ross under conditions 1 and Arnett Moultrie under 2. If Nash is gone, then Good Luck. Its a crap shoot.
    @ Herr Schmitz von mir: What’s you’re conditional choices?

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    There are no conditional choices.

    I don’t expect Nash to be back, and if that is the case then none of those scenarios are valid because they all depend on Nash.

    The Suns have need at every position minus center if Gortat is retained with the priority going to point guard if the team doesn’t sign or trade for one this off-season.

    That being the case, you take the best player available depeding on what the 12 picks in front of us were.

    If both point guards are gone, then you take the best of what is left.

  • Scott

    I don’t entirely agree with this draft analysis, though it’s a good starting point. The draft is murky right now, and so are the Suns’ needs.

    If the Suns don’t have a clear indication of what they’re going to do in trades and free agency, they probably need to pick the best available player. However, the Suns pick at #13, a point at which quality begins to get replaced by role players and potential.

    I don’t see Lillard dropping to #13, as he seems a lock with the Hornets, who need a dynamic young PG. I doubt Jeremy Lamb will be there either. Draft Express has him being taken by the Raptors at 8, and I can see that happening as the Raptors need a quality SG.

    If the draft falls this way, it leaves the Suns with a lot of iffy options in the somewhat mushy “teen” area of the draft, unless they want to take a big like Zeller in order to give themselves options in relation to Lopez.

    Also, as far as bigs go, keep in mind that Frye’s shoulder was shredded. Is he going to come right back in January and play well, or is he going to struggle a bit as he returns from injury? For all we know, he may be a non-factor for the whole year, especially if he comes back early and re-injures himself.

    And sure, Morris could start in place of Frye at PF. But does Warrick back up Morris at PF, despite his skinny frame? And even if Lopez is there, who plays at 3rd C?

    There is an issue with the bigs, is what I’m saying. Don’t overlook it. Sure, Siler can probably come in as 3rd C, but is Warrick going to be reliable at backup PF, and if either he or Morris gets an ankle twist, who steps in at PF?

    As for picking a PG, while I have been pleading with the Suns to get serious about the backup PG position for years, I don’t think Marshall is the pick to make this year. While I would not be completely unpleased with the pick, my guess is he’ll be more of a quality backup PG for some other team, like Steve Blake. Neither he nor Telfair are likely to be the backup for Nash if he doesn’t sign. If they don’t already have Nash signed, they’ll get Brooks or do something more solid, like maybe sign Billups, Andre Miller, or Felton.

    (Speaking of which, Billups might be a decent FA option for starting SG. If the Suns had Billups and Redd, they could start Billups and sub him with Redd, then after a few minutes have Billups come back in for Nash. Billups can create and he can take the big shot, two things the Suns are looking for.)

    The Suns should not pick a SF at #13, unless they’re feeling pretty likely they’ll be trading deeply into the Dudley / Childress / Warrick pool, and thinking they won’t re-sign Hill and Redd.

    The Suns need to focus on players who can score, defend, create for themselves, and preferably create for others. They need to fit the Suns’ system. Since the Suns will be looking to trade for stars and add free agents to compose the starting unit, whoever they get in the draft is almost certainly going to be a complementary (bench) player.

    When I suggested the Suns trade their #13 pick for 2 second rounders, it was because I don’t see a clear difference in quality between the mid-teens and some of the players in the second round. If there’s not much difference, then isn’t it logical to take two picks instead of one, sign them to four year contracts at $1 million a year, and increase the odds of at least having an inexpensive solid, high IQ bench?

    Remember, many quality players have been taken in the 2nd round. Boozer, Budinger, and Blair are examples. Some quality players even go undrafted. There’s not necessarily anything sacred about the first round in the draft, except that the players there are generally consensus picks, and even so about half are busts.

    FWIW, while I was not in favor of Faried (and I’m still unconvinced of his relative longterm value), I did predict the value of Kawhi Leonard. I forecast Leonard as a version of Jason Richardson with defensive skills, and definitely a good pick for the Suns. In draft footage I could see he was working on his game and his shot was coming along, including his outside shot. He has a good motor, good personality, and decent b-ball IQ. So I’m not terribly surprised Kawhi Leonard as a rookie went straight to the starting line-up on a potentially championship-bound Spurs team.

    However, I was okay with Morris as a safe pick for the Suns. The Suns needed a PF like Morris more than anything, because 1) neither Frye or Warrick should play PF, 2) Warrick is unlikely to be kept past this coming season, and 3) Frye is one of the team’s few trade assets. They needed to lock in a mature rookie, a true defensive PF who can rebound and shoot.

  • sun-arc

    Good write up.

    @ Scott: very good analysis. I agree with most of that.

    But, in the end, the suns just need the best available player. The pick isn’t going to set everything else in motion, but could provide back-up to other decisions. The other reason to get the best available is for trade bait. pairing with a suns player, to potenially get what they really want from another team.

    And, as mentioned, we have a need at every position. We could lose (or let go) our starting PG, SF, lose our starting PF who should be our backup C, lose our real back up C, SF, and SG. So- yeah, lots of holes to fill. Hope we get a Kawhi level player in this draft.

  • Scott

    @sun-arc -

    Thanks!

    Let me clarify, btw, that when I said “Neither he [Marshall] nor Telfair are likely to be the backup for Nash if he doesn’t sign.” I meant that neither could be considered as a *replacement* for Nash. So regardless of whether the Suns spend their pick on Marshall, they’ll still need to sign a veteran PG to be the team leader.

    I’m sure we’ll see some juggling of the draft order as June rolls on. Lots of time to think about this, and re-think it.

  • Tony

    Mike hit it spot on, the Suns have a ton of holes in their roster. Hmm…..I wonder who might be responsible for that???? Steve or Scott, got any ideas? I suppose replacing so many positions is just a normal part of the NBA right?

    Simply put, unless Nash goes against his word, he’s signing elsewhere as there’s no way the Suns FO can put together even a playoff team by next season. Since his departure is likely, I also doubt Hill decides to stay either. So, with both those guys gone, then the FO will need to find a new starting pg, sg or sf, (depending on where they want Dudley to play), probably a new starting pf as Frye is probably not going to be ready by the time next season begins due to his surgery, and they might need a new backup center if another team outbids the Suns on Lopez.

    With the Suns needing so many players, they should just draft the best player they can and forget about trying to draft according to position. I admit not being at all informed about the college players entering this year’s NBA draft, but since a number 13 pick usually amounts to no better than a Morris-type talent, it’s probably wishful thinking to hope they can draft a player ready for the NBA transition.

  • Aaron

    I like Moultrie. A long, crazy athletic, high energy, scoring, AND rebounding. Sounds perfect for the Suns style of play. Lillard is gonna be a great pros. He has every physical tool to play PG, plus an insane work ethic. Personally the player I’d most like to see the Suns draft. Is Darius Miller out of Kentucky. He’s 6’8′ a good defender, has deep nba range on his jumper, and a guy that lives for the big moments in big games. He played the SG as well as the SF. But the best part is that he’s slotted to go in the mid 2nd round.

    Just a side note. With the Suns having such a superior training staff. How great would it be to pick up young snake bit talent? Say Oden, n Roy. It’s worked for Hill, J Rich, Redd, n Frye.

  • Matt

    Why in the world would you take Kendall Marshall, we need scoring Marshall isn’t no where near the player Nash is passing or shooting. It’d make much more sense to go for Ross, Rivers, Waiters, Wroten or even Lillard

  • Ryan

    I like Steve, think a trade is gonna be the first and best avenue to rebuilding. For example the Hornets just picked up Davis, will likely get a pg too. So with Gordon being a lock now to get resigned, all the Hornets need is a stretch 4 or 5…..Suns have one that would be perfect in Frye, NO wants desperately to unload okafor……deal Frye, for Okafor(Suns can absorb his salary) whos overpaid, but not dead weight, and a future first rounder. Then I’d think Sacramento is ready to let Tyreke Evans go. If the asking price isn’t to high, (maybe Dudley and a first rounder) I think the Suns have the right character already on the roster to take a head case like Evans and get him to reach more of his potential by being a more veteran team and moving him to the 2. I think Evans is a better fit at the 2 with Nash than Gordon would be. Anyway just dreaming and trying to kick some ideas around

  • Ryan

    As far as the draft goes if I hope the Suns pick this years draft pick that is droping at that point in the draft….you know Kawahi Leonard, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert,…etc, etc. I don’t care what position he plays, just pick the guy that was projected to go 5 or 6 spots higher.

  • steve

    @Ryan

    I actually really like those ideas. There’s really nothing else I could add. Solid proposals, and that just goes to show how endless the possibilities are through trades. Virtually anyone in the league could be wearing a Phoenix Suns uniform next season, if the price is right. I would like to avoid throwing in picks, but I realize that if a trade is going to happen this offseason, it’s going to have to involve picks and/or Gortat/JMZ/Frye. They’re the only things of any value that the Suns actually have.

    I especially like the idea of taking on Okafor to fill up cap space (assuming the Suns aren’t going to get a legit star to fill that space). The only problem is that he does still have a bit of time on that contract. I’d be happier if he only had 2 years left, but I believe he’s got 3.

    Adding Evans and Okafor and retaining Hill would give the Suns three ROYs. I wonder what the most ROYs on any team has been.

    Anyway, like Tony, I’m also completely out of the loop when it comes to college talent. And I agree that the Suns should just look to take the best player available. There is no position of the team that is locked down. Considering Gortat’s very favorable contract, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets dealt in exchange for a couple of first rounders or something along those lines.

    I’m just babbling now. Enough of that.

  • Ryan

    @Steve,

    Just checked Okafor is on the books for 2 yrs @around 13 per. Frye being on the books for 3 at around 6 per. Overall about a difference in 8 mil over the life of the contracts. It is a bit hard to swallow, but like I said he’s not dead weight, and the Suns wouldn’t be out of line asking for a first rounder for taking him off the Hornets hands.

    I agree with you the possibiltys are pretty numerous when it comes to trades, some subtle and some major. Some obvious and some we have no idea could be made.

    On the first rounder for Gortat, I’ve wondered what GM’s out there think of Gortat, his production, size and contract have got to be out of this world appealing to some GM’s. I’m betting Atl would give up Jsmoove for him in a heart beat cause they could move Horford to PF and cut costs. Suns in essence would be risking renting him, but you don’t get better without taking risks. I jfo like him to Portland for the two first rounders they got…..at which point I’d have to want Nash to sign there, and adopt them as the only other team I root for after the Suns.

  • Ty-Sun

    Well, at least the draft and the off season trading should be interesting this year. We can speculate all we want but only the FO really knows whether they are planning on really trying to bring back Steve and/or Grant which will affect how they draft.

    If they draft a PG then I would assume that they aren’t expecting Steve back. I hope Lamb is still around at 13 but I’d be happy with Ross. Especially if Steve is going to return, SG is the spot most in need by the Suns IMO. Yeah, some people talk about moving Dudley back to the second unit but I think it would be best to move him over to the starting SF position if the Suns go after a 2 guard in the draft. As much as I love Hill, IF he returns he might probably be best used as the veteran anchor for the second unit. If he still has enough juice left there might even be some talk of him getting a sixth man award. He would certainly be a stabilizing force on the second unit and I’d bet that even at his age he could score at will on most other teams second unit SFs.

    Then of course the Suns could make a pre-draft deal with another team which doesn’t have 1st round pick (or has a very late 1st rounder) in which they draft the player the other team wants and then they make an immediate trade for the drafted player for someone already on the other team’s roster.

    Who knows what will actually happen but it should all be interesting.

  • Scott

    One thing the GMs on this board might want to keep in mind is, “What trades would I make if I was the Spurs GM, now with Phoenix?”

    Aside from the occasional Richard Jefferson trade, the Spurs don’t make mistakes. They’re very disciplined, making sure every move has all the boxes checked. They consistently pick high IQ, high character guys, who have offensive and defensive skills, good motors, low contracts, and who create synergy.

    Find those players.

    (BTW, even though the Jefferson trade was a mistake, I think everyone can appreciate how it looked like another perfect Spurs trade.)

  • Yohance

    @Ryan,

    I did not even think about it but the Hornets
    would probably consider moving Okafor or
    Kaman, especially if they are serious about signing
    Davis in this years draft. I would package a deal including
    Frye and Childress, or Warrick. I would like to keep Lopez and Dudley though I understand other teams might want these assets. I would also love to get Bradley or Evans. Boston is said to be interested in Rivers. I also agree that Evans is better viewed as a sg then a point guard because of his scoring ability. They already

  • Scott

    Let me add that the players need to be efficient scorers and good passers.

  • Scott

    @Yohance -

    I don’t know if Boston is REALLY interested in Rivers. They probably just have to say that, because of the relation. But it’s probably not a good idea, organizationally, to have a head coach coaching his son.

  • Yohance

    Have Isaiah thomas and good shooting guard. So it could
    be something that they would consider. I want to hang on to this years pick though if possible. We need to get younger but also have some seasoned veterans to teach the young talents that we pick up. FO needs to think outside of the box and spend money wisely that way we can plan to stay good over a long period off time.

  • Ty-Sun

    Kaman is a free agent so he isn’t a factor in any NO off-season trade. Personally, I think that NO will be happy to shed his salary trough free agency, keep Okafor for the remaining 2 years of his contract and just add young talent through the draft especially since they won the Davis lottery this year.

  • Tony

    @Ryan,

    why would you want another overpaid decent player in Okafor? If the Suns FO is committed to maintaining their cap flexibility, it makes no sense to trade for a pretty good player who is overpaid and has a history of injuries.

    As far as trades go, other than Maurese Speights, what other team in the last couple seasons committed salary dumping trades? I don’t think it is as common as we would all like to believe. Probably the most significant of the past several years was the Gasol trade to the Lakers, but even then, the Lakers gave up a couple 1st round draft picks to get him. Other than him, what other star player or even very good player was traded just to allow the trading franchise salary cap room? Remember, their is only one Sarver and unfortunately, he’s the owner of the Suns. I suppose we could include Gerald Wallace to the Nets, but then again, Jordan is currently the worst owner in the NBA and he’s already taken away any talented players he inherited upon purchasing the Bobcats franchise. And Wallace isn’t exactly a young player either.

    So, contrary to Steve and Ryan, I don’t believe rebuilding through trades is a viable option. The only trade asset the Suns have now is Gortat and even he’s not going to net the Suns a young star player or a top-3 pick.

    In my opinion, the only chance the Suns really have to rebuild is through the draft. They should trade Gortat now for either a better draft pick than 13 or a secondary 1st round pick and go into next season with the idea of being the worst team in the NBA. That way, the following season they may land a top-3 pick. Hopefully by then, they can draft a future star player to build around and they can take advantage of a better list of free agents to sign than this off-season.

  • steve

    History of injuries for Okafor?

    He’s played in 73, 26, 67, 82, 82, 82, 72, and 27 games in each season so far in his career. 2 years he was plagued with injuries. 6 years he was not.

    Not thinking trades are a good option is one thing, but you shouldn’t be rewriting history. Playing every single game for three straight seasons hardly shows a “history of injuries.”

  • Tony

    @Steve,

    I did think he missed a little more time due to injuries, I’ll give you that. With that being said, he missed the majority of games in two seasons and missed 15 other games in a third season due to injuries. Furthermore, considering he missed most of this past season due to injuries and the fact that he’s 29, he’s getting to an age when injuries become more frequent.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    A few things.

    Why do we want Okafor exactly? Gortat is a better fit for Gentry’s system and far more cap friendly. Also in regards to Frye, he is probably out for a bit of time. NOH isn’t doing that deal.

    To continue on Gortat, again, why trade him away to move up a couple more spots? The end result isn’t going to be much different, the Suns aren’t getting another 1st for him either, and now instead of having 4 holes to fill, you’ve got the ENTIRE starting lineup? Why do that?

    Kaman is a free agent, and you know what? I’d swap Kaman in for Lopez.
    Warlocks would keep him on the court and maybe [lol] you get some sort of compensation for Lopez via another team offering him lots of cash.

    Whether Steve remains or leaves, you take the best player available.

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    I agree; trading Gortat for a pick is not wise. If he’s a required part of a trade for a legit star, like Dirk, then you trade him.

    @Tony -

    I wouldn’t trade for Okafor either. His contract is big and the Suns already have Gortat, who is better, at half the cost.

    Now if NO wants to do something completely crazy, like trade Gordon and their two #1 picks for Gortat, Warrick, and Childress, then … OKAY!

    Like MarShon Brooks last year, I think there are diamonds in the late picks this year. I’m not sure the Suns are better off picking at #13. They might be better off doing a trade and spelunking for later diamonds.

    How about trading the Cavs the Suns’ #13 pick and cash in exchange for Omri Casspi and the Cavs’ two 2nd round picks? That way it doesn’t look like the Suns are just trading to get the picks. :)

  • Scott

    ^ (That trade should read Okafor, Gordon, and the 2 picks.)

  • steve

    I don’t think the idea was to turn gortat into okafor. That would obviously be a terrible move. I think the idea was to turn frye and some other filler into okafor and a pick (if NOH wants to dump him, of course). I would be all for getting rid of frye if that was the return.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Problem is Frye’s shoulder looks like a ham sandwich right now.

    Plus, even if he was healthy right now, he probably shot himself out of any sort of favor with just about any other franchise out there.

    I mean really, if you were a GM, would you take Frye after the year he had?

  • steve

    The question isn’t “will it happen?” The question is “would you be happy if it happened?”

    Trying to predict the specifics of a trade that hasn’t happened and hasn’t even been discussed to anyone’s knowledge is about as reliable as predicting earthquakes or predicting who the president of the United States will be in 2050 (if there is a United States).

  • Scott

    Frye is a better player when he’s at C. I appreciate the effort and sacrifice he put forth to try to be a PF for the Suns – he did what he could to help out – but it’s just not where he shines.

  • Ryan

    I don’t think Frye is untradable, less so than Okafor anyway. I just was pointing out that he would fit into NO new lineup with the addition of Davis as a stretch 5, and Okafor does not. Rumor has it he’s on the block, no ones trading him for a good piece, NO is gonna have to give up an asset along with him, and the Suns can rent out cap space to get him along with an asset. If they’re going to rent out cap space I’d say Okafor would be a good start. He’s still a servicable player, and in two seasons when he’s on an expireing deal the Suns may be able to flip him for another asset to a contender who could use him. Also Frye’s injury is irrelevent here, it’s not a career threatning one and it’s not as though NO is in win now mode, they’ll still be a couple years away.

  • Ryan

    To further clarify for Tony you can rebuild comprehensively, cap space and flexability can equal signings and trades, trades can mean players and picks. Picks can mean a franchise player. Just cause you say I would prefer they make some trades doesn’t discount the draft, they need more draft picks if you think they draft is the key. It’s gonna take several years, I don’t think that’s gonna be argued on this site. Some wna’t them to tank(fine I don’t agree, but I see the logic), others want as much cap as possible to sign a Howard/Williams type(most don’t think that possible, and I agree with that line of thinking) I would like them to stay competitive while gathering assets, kinda like the Rockets way of doing things. Anybody on the roster is up for grabs unless they’re a franchise cornerstone.

  • GoSuns

    Id rather have kaman than okafor

  • steve

    @GoSuns – Why? He makes more money than Okafor and he’s a worse player. Plus, he seems to be more injury-prone than Okafor. His past four seasons he has played in 31 (yikes), 76 (very nice), 32 (yikes again), and 47 (not too great, either). For those keeping track, in the past four years, Kaman has made $45.73M in the past four years while playing in 58% of his team’s games.

    And you want him over Okafor for what reason?

  • GoSuns

    Um Steve how is Emeka the better player?
    He was in his earlier years when he was more healthy but his numbers continue to decline as each season comes and passses, okafor is the better rebounder but kaman has a better offensinve skill set is a better passer and just as good if not better shot blocker, plus that 47 games out of a 66 game season in which he was helf out a few games cause of being on the trade block

  • steve

    Career highs:

    PER

    Kaman – 17.5 (07-08)
    Okafor – 20.1 (06-07)

    WS48

    Kaman – .114 (05-06)
    Okafor – .147 (06-07 & 08-09)

    Average of last 3 seasons (counting a season as one unit, no matter the games or minutes played)

    PER

    Kaman – 15.83
    Okafor – 15.87

    WS48

    Kaman – .038
    Okafor – .117

    It’s not like Okafor is better by a landslide, but it would be a system-specific line of thinking that would lead someone to believe Kaman is a better player than Okafor.

    In Kaman’s entire career he has had just one season with an ORtg higher than his DRtg (05-06). Okafor has had 6 straight seasons with a higher ORtg than DRtg.

    Sure, Kaman has the better offensive skillset. I’ll give you that. But every other metric indicates that Okafor is the better player. Plus he makes less money.

  • VotS Critic

    Great Draft Videos on your channel Schmitz!

  • Barnes

    I still don’t get so many people including suns fans thinking nash wont be back. Sure, its a chance, but the likely scenario is hes back. Nash will take a paycut to play for a contender im sure but the difference between $10m and $3m is pretty big, no contenders can offer him good money or years and this is his final deal after going through a divorce and going through his early to mid years on average money by NBA standards. You can also cancel out many of the contenders as they already have a PG and hes not coming off the bench – Bulls, Thunder, Spurs, Celtics with really the Heat as the only big contender the only option to play and again they have no money to offer. The teams that can offer him decent money are gonna be no better off than the suns and likely worse (Toronto???) so why would he leave. He is going to get the most money at phoenix who at $10m a year at his age is a good deal and hes with a group and organisation he has loyalty to and teammates he likes and at the end of the day the suns can compete still for playoffs and with changes maybe advance further. Theres a chance he takes a low offer for someone else but its really not likely, so you have a PG and my point here is it makes no sense to draft one if you think hes back. Especially a kendall marshal who cant shoot so even as a guard off the bench wont be a good fit with nash there. You mention who they should take including the guys that drop at the summary of the article and I agree with Lamb for certain but you honestly don’t think out of your options that Perry Jones would be the no brainer at 13 if hes there?? He is looking like he can play small forward for them and if hill is back he can play the 2 and the suns will have Dudley and probably redd (hopefully) there too. Of course they could just go hard for gay or jsmith who are on teams needing to reduce salary, a Dudley and 1st rounder or Keef and 1st rounder could get a deal talking?? I think they will take the best talent available and I think its pretty evident thats not a PG that will be there like kendall marshall. Its also a travesty if the suns are not beating down the grizzlies door for gay since they can take on salary with their space, same for Atlanta with jsmith.

  • Barnes

    @steve – sorry I couldnt resist – your telling me your soley looking at who a better player is based on PER? PER does not detrmine who is better than who and its far from an exact science so it really is a poor way to compare.

    Also – Kaman is currently a free agent and is not go to appraoch teh $11m odd a year Okafor is on.

  • Barnes

    @tony – as far as trades never happening to teams with space it has but even more importantly with the new CBA teams will have to start shedding payroll now, they cant afford not to. Atlanta and Grizzlies have already said we need to salary dump gay and smith. Its not if it happens its a point of who can take the salary. These type of trades will be prevalent in the next season or two as teams adjust to the trappings of the new CBA and a smart GM plans for this. I think the suns have been smart being in this position. You will see trades to teams with space to take players on. With scenarios like Hawks/Grizz they need something in return at a much lower salary its who can offer the best return with picks which are not expensive when they turn into rookies. The suns have dudley, morris and lopez who are all inexpensive but moderately valuable pieces along with 1st round picks. Its a buyers market. There isn’t many teams who can take on board salary so the suns are positioned well to get a good deal – if these team need to dump salary there are few franchises that can help and even fewer who actually have some useful and inexpensive pieces to pair with draft picks, the suns are in a good spot and have done well.

  • steve

    @Barnes

    Here is your argument. “PER is useless because I say so.”

    How can anyone expect to reason with that?

    Every person in the league uses sabermetrics as a step in evaluating players. Not most. EVERY. PER (and I also mentioned WS48 because the two systems try to quantify similar qualities with slightly different weights to certain aspects of production) is the most widely used efficiency rating, and has been proven year after year to accurately depict who the most effective players in the NBA are. Just look up and down the PER ratings and the WS48 ratings and tell me how wrong they are?

    Are they perfect systems? No, I would never argue that. But if you want to tell me Kaman is better than Okafor because he averages more points or averages more assists or whatever other simple metric you can throw at me, I’ll show you another to prove that Okafor is better. The point (I even admitted so in my comment) isn’t that Okafor is DEFINITIVELY better than Kaman. It was that every advanced metric there is indicates he is better, and he makes less money than Kaman. It makes zero sense to want Kaman over Okafor unless you’re talking about the way either player fits in an individual system.

    I really don’t get what your point was in responding.

    Also, contenders most certainly could sign Nash, especially if the door is open to a sign and trade (which it appears to be).

  • Ryan

    To addto the okafor over kaman argument I only brought okafor up as a trade target because hes available with a another asset. There’s a report today that no is willing to give up their 10th pick for someone to take okafor off their hands. Frye and a 2nd rounder for okafor and the 10 th pick…..done.

  • Scott

    @Ryan -

    If Gay or someone else of star quality is available, I’d take them over Okafor, even if Okafor comes with the #10 pick. Not that Okafor is so bad, it’s just that there’s only so many roster spots, and if the Suns can get the veteran creator/crunch guy they need, it would be a huge help.

    @Barnes -

    I think the most likely scenario is that Nash stays, as after all the Suns organization and the fans have indicated they want him to stay. However, there’s always the other side of the equation, and many people would rather have Nash either gone or traded for value while he still has some.

    Also, it’s possible Nash would find another opportunity he prefers, such as a championship type team or a team offering a higher value contract.

  • Barnes

    @ryan I didnt offer @Ryan I didn’t offer A reason why Kaman is better than Okafor because I was only commenting to the fact that Steve decided this based on PER and the like which is incredibly flawed if that is all your looking at, and unfortunately many people do just look at that and decide who is better. Sebastian Telfair probably had a better PER than John Wall – would you rather Bassy? Its convenient now to bring up they would get a number 10 pick as well because of course that makes it more attractive, but that wasn’t the reasoning to begin with – it was take on Okafor. By the way speaking to your trade scenario, Frye is a million times better than Okafor at this point and earns half the salary and a 2nd round pick this draft is pretty good with the depth – so theres no way I’m for giving that up to get Okafor anyway. If you want me to substantiate why Kaman is way better than Okafor fine, I watched basketball games and he kills him, statistically he kills him including in blocked shots which should be Okafor forte and athletically Okafor now looks older than Kaman. Okafor also has a chronic and by all means severe knee injury not to mention the fact he is owed something like $26 million over the next two years when Kaman will be paid half that over that time likely when he is signed. Okafor was absolutely abysmal at the start of this year routinely playing over 30 minutes and getting 6 and 6 with a block. If the suns deal with the hornets they should be taking on Ariza and his $14.5 million over the next two years to get the number 10 pick and a wing while they are at it – and I wouldn’t be giving up much for it either since the hornets have shown their hand and just want to dump one or both of those contracts and will throw in the pick to make someone take it – they are trying to free cap space and again, the suns don’t have much competition as far as teams that can absorb salary right now.

    @Scott I know what you’re saying although I just don’t get suns fans thinking we should move him just to get a couple of useless pieces though, he’s been an integral part of the organisation I would rather watch him play until he retires in a suns uniform and get nothing (old school star player style), this whole dumping players in their twilight years needs to stop. Let a guy play out his career with you and retire him with some dignity and get the cap room freed up him retiring gives you, have a bad year and get a good draft pick and sign free agents. Of course I know we will only trade Nash somewhere he wants to go, but we aren’t getting anything in that trade, maybe a 2nd rounder or something – big deal. We sniffed around last season and NO ONE offered anything to trade for him. If you’re getting 10 cents on the dollar or less why not just keep your allstar point guard and retool around him? I agree he may prefer another opportunity he prefers which is all up to Nash and I would understand, but I certainly wouldn’t push him out and as I mentioned I don’t think he will choose the title run teams to be a backup or take a mega paycut, and I also think it’s impossible for someone to give him more than $10 million a year that the suns are offering at his age. None of the trade Nash talk or Nash is going to leave talk makes sense when you look at all the pieces.

  • steve

    I’m just curious, how is PER so flawed. Substantiate your claim. Otherwise admit you’re only contributing drivel.

  • steve

    Btw, that’s twice that you claimed I only used per. What about ws48, which I mentioned?

    And you didn’t even post any numbers. Okafor shoots higher percentages. Okafor rebounds better. Okafor has better block and steal percentages. Okafor has lower turnover percentages. Okafor has a better ORtg/DRtg.

    Do you want any more? Kaman has a better offensive skillset. In every other area of the game, Okafor is the better player. And yes, defense does still matter in the NBA.

  • steve

    And just to match your triple post, what does frye do better than Okafor? Shoot the 3… Anything else?

  • Ryan

    @Barnes 1. I addressed why I think Okafor over Kaman, as an offseason acuasition, not who the better player is. 2″Its convenient now to bring up they would get a number 10 pick as well because of course that makes it more attractive, but that wasn’t the reasoning to begin with” please refer to comment number 10 “NO wants desperately to unload okafor……deal Frye, for Okafor(Suns can absorb his salary) whos overpaid, but not dead weight, and a future first rounder” Disagreeing with me on this point is fine, it was just an idea, but at least get what’s already been written right. Also I agree Ariza would be a great add if he comes with the 10th pick , just at the time I brought up Okafor I didn’t think that NO was as desperate to get rid of Ariza.

  • Barnes

    I never said “PER is so flawed” I said deciding how good one player is by JUST looking at PER is flawed. PER is an indicator, its not a proven science that’s going to give you a black and white answer as to how good any one player is compared to another. So I have a problem if you just look at PER and say “right, this guys PER is better than this guys so he is better”. It doesn’t work that way. Its like looking at scoring as an indicator of offensive ability and saying “this guys better than this guy”, a simple example but the same premise. Sometimes PER is more of an indication than others on a players ability but it’s just one of many indicators and it doesn’t universally translate for everyone. Just looking at PER is flawed because your just looking at one measure to say ‘this is how good this guy is’ and in the example your talking about if you watched Kaman play this year and watched Okafor play anyone would clearly say Kaman is much better than Okafor and its not even close. PER like stats is one indicator that you can take into account but no metrics will ever replace watching guys play and knowing who is better and who is more valuable, and I wont even get into looking at the teams pace and offense/defense strategy and plays but if you did that too you would see Kaman is way better in a suns uniform than what Okafor is. Same when you look at contracts and current health. There is always factors stats don’t measure, you need to watch games as well (not saying you don’t) and look at MANY different stats to determine who is better than who, you cant just look at some PER number spat out on a screen and that only.

    Im saying all this mainly because I watch a lot of basketball, OKAFOR IS DEAD out there, hes terribly worse than Kaman when you watched each of them play this year and he would give the suns NOTHING at an exceptionally high price over 2 years.

  • Barnes

    ok one at a time fellas lol. Will reply to you each in a moment….