Lance Blanks preparing the Suns for all draft scenarios


PHOENIX — Lance Blanks’ session with the media on Monday provided more questions than answers. In other words, it was exactly what one might expect from an interview with a general manager three days before the draft.

The Suns could trade out if they don’t like anybody at 13, or they could add a pick later because they understand they need youth. The Suns are targeting a wing who can score due to obvious roster deficiencies in that area but they might take a point guard due to the utter importance of that position and Steve Nash’s pending free agency or even a big like Arnett Moultrie (who worked for the team for a second time this weekend).

Even the second workout is something of a smoke screen in that a player not brought back a second time may have already shown everything they needed to prove themselves worthy of the No. 13 selection whereas a second-time visitor may be back, as Blanks put it, because “it never hurts to get a second look.

“It’s just all part of the process,” he said. “You don’t want to have regrets when you make these decisions, so you want to make sure you’ve seen everything that you can see. Once you make the pick you can’t turn back.”

My gut says the Suns are targeting a wing like Dion Waiters, Terrence Ross, Jeremy Lamb or Austin Rivers, and they could be in the market for Kendall Marshall as well if he falls to them.

Common sense would dictate that Moultrie does not make sense for a team stacked (depth-wise if not in terms of talent) in the front court or that they would only make a play for Marshall if they do not expect to re-sign Nash.

But Blanks even shot down that bit of conventional wisdom by saying most of the draftees are “long-term situations” that must be developed, not immediate Band-Aids for pressing issues.

“You go through what I call if-then scenarios,” Blanks said. “If this happens then we’ll do this. Right now we’re overly focused on this draft because we want to hit it right. If that means a duplication at a spot, so be it, because at the end of the day you want to have talented players and guys that can make it in this league and contribute to your roster.

“That’s better than going away from a position where you already have depth or have an opportunity through free agency and you end up with a player who can’t play in the league or is just not good enough. I think you’ve got to really not in an overly way, but you want to stay focused on the draft and the level of the talent so you don’t make a bad selection.”

That’s good to hear because the last thing you want out of a late lottery pick is to end up with Earl Clark.

What we know is that the Suns have plenty of potential alternatives when No. 13 comes on the clock, many that we have analyzed and some that probably will come out of nowhere (like Kawhi Leonard slipping last year).

The Suns plan on being prepared for all of those situations and then trusting their draft board.

A Wages of Wins cheat sheet

Last season the Suns got superb value in the draft, according to Arturo Galletti’s draft ranking system based on projected Wins Produced, as Markieff Morris ranked as the sixth overall prospect behind studs like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams and Leonard as well as rookie surprise Kenneth Faried (of course Keef bombed in the Hollinger Draft Rater).

Arturo released his rankings for this draft, and none of the presumed candidates for the Suns’ 13th pick rank too well on his list.

As is the case with every rating system for this particular draft, Anthony Davis tops the list by a wide margin (his average predicted WP48 of 0.192 laps the field) and presumed top-10 picks Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard rank as elite as well.

Jae Crowder amazingly ranks second, Jared Sullinger ninth and Scott Machado (a potential point guard pick if the Suns trade into the second round) 15th.

As for the players the Suns have been linked to, Dion Waiters sits 22nd with a projected average WP48 of 0.059, Jeremy Lamb ranks 25th with a WP48 of 0.053, Terrence Ross 30th with a 0.049 and Kendall Marshall 32nd with a 0.041.

As we learned last week, the Wages of Wins guys really do not like Austin Rivers or Perry Jones, and that showed up in these results as well. Rivers ranks 62nd with a projected 0.013 WP48, and not to be out done Jones is 65th with a 0.010. Harrison Barnes and Meyers Leonard rank even lower.

Lopez the GM selects…

Robin Lopez played the role of Suns GM in an ESPN Magazine mock draft with players selecting for their particular teams (although Lopez will be a restricted free agent this summer).

FroLo had a relatively easy job as Syracuse guard Dion Waiters fell to him.

Said Lopez of his pick, “We need a guy who can provide instant offense, a guy who can take the ball in his hands and score on his terms from the perimeter. We just didn’t have anyone quite like that coming off the bench this year.”

Nash’s Showdown in Chinatown set for tonight

Steve Nash will host his fifth annual Showdown in Chinatown Wednesday night in New York City.

The Showdown traditionally sports Nash, fellow NBA players and soccer studs in a fun-filled game for charity. The game, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park in the Lower East Side, will benefit the Steve Nash Foundation’s “work to increase access to high-quality early learning services to children through Educare.”

“Getting to play in New York City with so many friends and players I admire, and having the event reach so many kids through my Foundation really makes Showdown my favorite event,” Nash said in a release. “Our sponsors have been incredible in letting us build on what we offer to fans; that so companies and athletes give of their time and energy to come out is something I always appreciate, and we’re looking forward to the best year yet.”

Two Time tweeted that soccer stars Thierry Henry and Claudio Reyna will be among the Showdown players for this year’s game.

Nash is sure to be hit with a barrage of questions from New York reporters about his pending free agency on July 1. He already told Stephen A. Smith, “It sounds like a company line, but my situation really right now is I’m open to everything, and I will definitely look at every situation that comes my way on Sunday, and I’m not going to close myself to any opportunities.”

And 1

  • Paul Coro on the possibility of a Waiters promise: “Whether the term ‘promise,’ ‘soft promise’ or ‘Facebook like’ was used for Waiters, the Suns definitely expressed their strong interest in Waiters. Too many people inside the league are telling a similar story and citing a close enough tie to make it sound legitimate. It would be silly for the Suns to give Waiters a straight promise. At No. 13, there is no telling who could unexpectedly slip and change their minds.” That’s exactly how I feel about this as well.
  • Coro also reported that the Suns will tender offers to restricted free agents Robin Lopez and Aaron Brooks, as Lon Babby previously said they would. This part of the process is a no-brainer, the question now is whether either player will get an offer that the Suns would be dumb to match.

Tags: Lance Blanks

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    “Right now we’re overly focused on this draft because we want to hit it right. If that means a duplication at a spot, so be it, because at the end of the day you want to have talented players and guys that can make it in this league and contribute to your roster.” – This.

    This is why, if Lillard or Waiters isn’t there then you go away from the wing if a guy like Leonard is there even with Gortat on the team. I have always been a fan of, and in favor of that style of drafting.

    I am not 100% behind a Lamb or a Ross because while they would contribute, they don’t fix the major issue the Suns have had. That being the case, you may as well leave JMZ there, bring Redd back for the bench mob and add true power somewhere else.

  • Matt

    Austin rivers. Enough said

  • Greg

    no to austin rivers. enough said. he doesnt have a great jump shot even though he shoots it with confidence. doesnt pass, not a great athlete. and scouts have said he lacks defensive effort. We want a high motor guy on both ends of the floor, not a guy that puts all his energy into offense (where he has some false confidence) and then lacks on the defensive end. good iso player, not a good player if you want ball movement because the ball will stop at him.

  • Scott

    I’m pleased to see that Jae Crowder ranked #2 on that board, as I’ve been mentioning his name quite a bit on VotS. From his description on Draft Express, he’s a pick that will be good for whatever team takes him. I don’t, however, think he’ll ever be a star, just a talented role player, due to his lack of athleticism and poor handling. He’s a Jared Dudley type, which all teams need.

    My other “hidden in the weeds” pick is Kyle O’Quinn, who sits at #45 in Galletti’s ranking; not too different from where he shows on the DE mock draft. He’s a bit more of a question mark to me, due to a potentially fatal lack of athleticism, but worth a 2nd round pick.

    Scott Machado rates #15, right below Thomas Robinson. If the Suns are able to buy 2nd round picks en masse, as if they were being sold at Costco, PG Machado would also be a good pick. 2nd round PGs rarely amount to anything, but undrafted Isaiah Thomas was pegged by DE as a 2nd round pick last year, and he’s done all right for Sacramento.

    I’m not really a huge fan of statistical rankings. I think scouting is usually a better predictor, as you can get impressions about a player like their motor and work ethic which won’t show up in statistics.

    Wasn’t TrueHoop’s pick last year – Tristan Thompson – picked by Hollinger or somebody as projecting to be an amazing player in the NBA? Yet his first season was underwhelming. I’m surprised he was able to score a PER of 13, because in games against the Suns he looked like a complete bust for where he was picked.

    I wonder if Alando Tucker would have scored well in a ranking like this …?

    IMO, the Suns are preparing to draft Kendall Marshall, if he’s available. (Portland, which has lusted after Nash for years and picks at 11, might consider Marshall as a substitute, so Marshall will have to fall past them.)

    Blanks is careful to mention that the position he’s drafting for might be one where the Suns are already deep, because the Suns are angling to keep Nash, or sign Brooks, and failing that, to start Telfair. They don’t want to signal to any of these guys that they aren’t wanted.

  • Yohance

    @Scott

    You make a good point about the
    Suns FO not getting into specifics about which
    positions their looking at in the upcoming draft.
    If kinda think they are under the impression that they
    might not be able to keep Nash. So if this is the case you
    would definitely look at a pg to possibly take over that spot.
    I like Kendall Marshall he some talent that can not be teached
    (i.e. excellent passing, vision, and understanding how to operate a team). With that being said he will need to work diligently to deve

  • Yohance

    to devlop a consistent shot, work on shots in traffic while penetrating to the basket, and overall defense. I think that over time he can get better at these things. It hard to compare him but think of Rondo or Jason Kidd early on neither of them could make consistent shots. But they both work hard on these short comings and are better for it now. I think that you let Telfair, Kendall, or maybe Brooks fight it out and see which one gives us the best chance for sucess. While I love Brooks offense I not high on him because he is a liability on defense. Don’t get me wrong I would love to keep Nash and Hill for a few more years while signing and drafting young talent to learn from them before taking over their positions. However, I am not sure who the suns could package to get additional draft picks, or proven players with talent. I would love to get a Josh Smith. Maybe offer them Frye or Morris along with a future draft pick. Any thoughts on this?

  • GoSuns

    I somewhat agree rich, I think we should pick up a wing at 13 but should try to pick up another 1st round pick and draft leonard and either not extend lopez contract or sign and trade