Phoenix Suns expected to target perimeter player with the 13th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft

PHOENIX — At the first ever “Lunch with Lance” media gathering this afternoon, Phoenix Suns GM Lance Blanks was a closed book when discussing specific players the Suns could target with the 13th pick in this year’s draft.

He spoke of the draft’s depth in comparison to last year. He touched on the lengths the Suns’ staff goes to in order to select the right player. Blanks also shared his philosophy on drafting for a need versus drafting the best available player, and even gave the media a window into his career path that was shaped by the likes of Joe Dumars, R.C. Buford, and Danny Ferry.

But not once did he utter the name Austin Rivers, Terrence Ross or Kendall Marshall. He wouldn’t break down Rivers’ superstar makeup, Ross’s NBA size and shooting ability or Marshall’s remarkable court vision. Instead, Blanks gave the politically correct response when asked about specific prospects.

“If I’m reading the Internet right there will be a lot of guys there available that can help us,” Blanks said with a smile.

While Blanks chose not to discuss specific players — rightfully so as the Suns have yet to work out any prospects or meet with the players at this week’s combine — he very clearly outlined Phoenix’s needs:

  • A point guard. “One of the two hardest positions to get is point guard,” Blanks said. “You look for someone that could run an offense, get you in an offense, make plays for other people as well as themselves and either lead through their playing style or lead verbally more like a general.”
  • A scoring wing. “The other area on the wing is someone that can take pressure off of what we’ve done historically with the pick and roll situation and generate offense inside and outside of the offensive system,” Blanks explained. “Whether that’s a shot maker or someone that can get their own shot, it just depends on who’s there. That would be another need.”
  • Defense on the perimeter: “The last one I would say a guy that could give us some more defensive support from a perimeter standpoint where we’re not necessarily exploited at a high level on the perimeter,” Blanks said.

Blanks made it clear that the Suns will indeed be going after a perimeter player in full force come June 28. They’ll be pursuing this year’s crop of wings “pretty aggressively,” according to Blanks, as there are a handful of “potential game-changers” that could be around for the 13th pick.

He wants to add youth, scoring, and defense to a Phoenix perimeter that could undoubtedly use a facelift, and given where the Suns are picking as well as the group of talented swingmen expected to be on the board, this is the perfect draft to do exactly that.

“When you look at our roster and compare it to the draft we feel like we’ll be able to do that in a big and impactful way,” Blanks said of filling the team’s perimeter needs.

Suns open to adding second, will most likely keep 13th

Whether it be Rajon Rondo or Luol Deng, the Suns franchise is notorious for selling picks. Suns fans won’t have to worry about that this year, however, as Blanks said the team plans on keeping their No. 13 pick.

“I can tell you this that it’s likely we’ll have our pick and keep it unless there’s something that’s unforeseen that I can’t see,” Blanks said.

The Suns don’t have a second-round pick but they could be interested in acquiring another pick as Blanks said, “we didn’t make the playoffs so we’re not in a position to say there’s nothing we wouldn’t do.”

2012 draft not as ‘spotty’ as last year’s

It’s no secret that this year’s draft is regarded as one of the deepest in recent memory, and Blanks seconded that sentiment.

“I’m extremely excited about this pool of players,” Blanks said. “I think at our pick you have a great chance to get a very good player.”

He described the 2011 draft as “spotty” and said that just looking at the draft you knew certain guys would go higher than their talent suggested. Blanks added that he and his staff had Markieff Morris ranked higher than the 13th pick, where they selected him. There’s nothing spotty about this year’s draft, however.

“I think the draft will be solid for certainly the first half of the first round,” Blanks said. “Those players have the resume and what it takes at least on paper to be successful in the NBA.”

Blanks believes in drafting for need

There are two different philosophies NBA general managers adopt during the draft process: drafting based on need and drafting the best available player. Blanks made his strategy crystal clear.

“All things being equal, you go with what the need is for the team,” Blanks said. “You owe that to the fans, the organization, the ownership, to your coach, to fill that need. It’s difficult to find players that can impact your roster regardless of how you do it. Whenever there’s an opportunity to fill a need, you look to fill it.”

And 1

  • The Suns have moved former longtime NBA veteran point guard Lindsay Hunter from scouting into a full-time position in player development. “He’ll be supporting the coaches and doing what needs to be done to help guys get better through the summer and also during the season,” Blanks said.
  • Blanks said Mark West will also have an expanded role in the draft process.

Tags: Draft Lance Blanks

  • Tony

    At long last Blanks speaks! I was beginning to think Sarver and Babby silenced him after Blanks orchestrating of the Dragic trade.

    Blanks comments are interesting. In particular, pointing out the team needs a pg is especially intriguing as it may be a sign the FO doesn’t expect Nash back at all. Furthermore, it could also mean they will let Arron Brooks walk and not really attempt to use him as their next pg of the future. If this is indeed the case, then it makes the Dragic trade even more awful. Personally, I was never a fan of Brooks game, especially since his defense is worse than Nash’s and he’s a very streaky shooter.

    With the Suns having so many needs, it really doesn’t make much sense to me for Blanks to focus more on drafting a player to fit the team’s needs rather than a more talented overall player. The only legitimate starting player on this team is Gortat so they could theoretically draft any other position and it would still fit what the team needs.

  • luis

    i believe terrence jones from kentucky would be a perfect fit he is what they need and he is a talnented player

  • suns fan in wa

    The Rockets have this feisty and gutsy young point guard we should trade for. He is from somewhere in Eastern europe… weird name.. Tragic? Dragic…

  • Daniel

    @suns fan in wa: We should definitely look into this Tragic guy, he sounds interesting…

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    @ Tony – I think you’d have to agree that this year he can get away with saying “we’ll draft for need” because the Suns are going to draft the best player available.

    He’ll get away with it because, well, the Suns need everything.

    So whoever the best player is, they’re going to fill a huge need. So “two birds….” as they say.

    I honestly don’t see how they add another draft pick especially this year. Even to get into the seccond round I just don’t see the players currently under contract that PHX can use to get that done.

  • Scott

    I don’t know what to make of the comments by Blanks. You’d think he’s ruling out taking a PF/C, but maybe that’s misdirection. And what kind of player does he like? We’re familiar with the old Suns’ drafting pattern, but what does Blanks look for?

    I get the feeling he’s excited about about Lillard, Rivers, and Quincy Miller. While all of them have decent skills, they may have just average b-ball IQ. I’m not sure they’d be on the list for the Spurs.

    @luis -

    Terrence Jones has everything you’d want physically in a PF: nice size, wingspan, athleticism, defensive quickness, etc. What he seems to lack is ball handling (he almost always drives left), a consistent motor, emotional maturity, high b-ball IQ, and focus. His shooting and rebounding can get better.

    While it’s true he did play on a talented team, and consequently maybe he wasn’t called upon to do as much, he didn’t show improvement over his freshman year.

    He sounds like the kind of player that can have good moments, but then fades, kind of like Tim Thomas, maybe.

    So I agree he looks good. But there are some worries, too.

  • .

    Need to let the Dragic trade go and move on. He was traded for a reason. Dragic was getting too complacent and making silly turnovers almost every game when the team chose to trade him. He has now learned from his mistakes and blossomed into a quality point guard in one and a half seasons. Phoenix now has Aaron Brooks who they NEED to keep since they used a pick plus Dragic to get him. Half a season of service just to see Brooks walk for nothing is a complete waste. I doubt Lillard and Marshall will be available by the time Phoenix picks. Lillard will probably go to Portland and Marshall will head to Hornets alongside Davis. Suns will hopefully have two choices in the draft to pick from: Austin Rivers or Tyler Zeller.

  • Ty-Sun

    I really doubt NO is in the market for a PG in this year’s draft. Both Jack and Vasquez played well this season and they didn’t even invite any PGs to their first series pre-draft workouts. I’m wondering if the Suns can work out some sort of trade so that they can get some other team’s second round pick to replace the one they gave away with Dragic.

  • Brian

    Lamb or Ross please.

  • Scott

    @. -

    The way I see it, since Dragic has been in Houston the coach has given him players he can work with, instead of that mess Gentry was giving him in his final season with the Suns. As we saw in one game, for a few minutes, even Nash couldn’t make anything happen with that group.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    You may be right about NO, but IIRC Jack has normally been a backup PG wherever he’s been, and he only has one more year on his contract with NO. It looks to me like it is a guaranteed year; not player or team option.

    The best time to draft a PG is when you have a decent starter and backup, and you can give your newbie a year of testing and seasoning, and build the confidence of the team and the coach in that player, before putting responsibility for that season in the newbie’s hands.

    NO is currently in that position. If Lillard doesn’t seem to be working out as a PG, then NO can sign Jack to another contract if they want. Or, if Lillard appears to be amazing right from the start of the season, they can try to trade Jack’s expiring contract, if they wish. Or they can keep all 3 PGs for the year, as it’s normally a good idea to have depth.

  • James

    My question is, how can you be as patient as you are with Robin Lopez and his injuries and inconsistent play, but get fed up with Dragic and get rid of him for almost nothing in return? Someone please explain this to me. It just doesn’t make any sense.

  • KayGee19

    Suns please please please, try to move up in the draft to select jeremy Lamb, His potential is thru the roof! He’s long athletic and has the potential to be an all star right away. JEREMY LAMB JEREMY LAMB, if some one knows sarver tell him to draft JEREMY LAMB!!!

  • Cam

    Give me Kendall Marshall with the 13th pick and use buy another pick and get dion waiters. That would give the Suns a solid backcourt for the foreseeable future. Go Suns.

  • Scott

    @James -

    I think it’s two things.

    1) Gentry put a bad 2nd unit on the court all season long that year. In interviews, and apparently to management as well, he blamed Dragic for that unit’s shortcomings, even though it was clearly a bad mix of players, and no other PG (not Brooks, Dowdell, or Nash) was able to do any better with them.

    2) Blanks, near as I can figure, believes any credible PG must be a cocky, swaggering guy who always tells his coach he can make it work (even when he can’t). Brooks and Telfair are more of that mold. Quiet guys who leave their hearts on the court need not apply.

  • Tony


    where do you get your information? Gentry never blamed Dragic for the 2nd unit’s problems. That’s just totally false.

  • rossboss

    Jeremy Lamb. he is the (not as good) shooting guard version of kevin durant

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    I got it from watching the Suns, how else?

    He said it, and after he said it a few times, Dragic was gone.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    I realize you can’t go back and watch that season, but do you remember a period around mid-season where Gentry sat Dragic and played Dowdell as 2nd PG instead? That’s because Gentry was so frustrated with Dragic after repeated reprimands.

    IIRC, Gentry gave Dragic one last try after that, and then he was canned, receiving word on a flight to Toronto, I believe. (Dowdell didn’t play any better than Dragic, either.)

  • steve

    But, Scott, coaches aren’t the ones who decide who’s on the court. The Three Stooges told Gentry who to play. It wasn’t his fault.

  • Scott

    It seems to me I’ve heard that somewhere before … ;)

  • Rishi

    There is a rumor on ESPN that Pick No. 10 available
    AM ET
    New Orleans Hornets

    Reportedly Hornets willing to deal it if a team takes Ariza or Okafor.

    If this is the case, I say the Suns should do it and take Ariza, not sure who we would give to them thats the only problem. We could use 2 first round draft picks, that would certainly make us younger alot faster. Its too bad we don’t have two high first round draft picks like Portland or New Orleans…how can we get another first round pick besides trading Gortat? Maybe we can trade Gortat, get Okafor and the number 10 pick? We then would also have our number 13 pick as well….?