Phoenix Suns draft day 2012 primer

Draft day 2012 is finally upon us.

On this day one team will draft a franchise superstar, many others will select quality building blocks and some will pick busts.

With the No. 13 overall selection in the draft the Phoenix Suns could go in many different directions to pick a player they hope becomes a key component of their eventual rebuilding project.

As GM Lance Blanks said earlier in the week, basically nothing can be ruled out at this point, including trading the pick altogether if the Suns don’t like the talent available when they are on the clock.

The team figures to select a point guard, shooting guard or small forward although Blanks cautioned it could be a big man because the team wants to be sure to select a player the front office feels will make an impact in the NBA over a guy at a need position.

Last season in this same exact draft spot the Suns picked Kansas forward Markieff Morris, a player seen as one of the safer picks in last season’s draft but one without as much upside as some of his fellow lottery picks. It will be interesting to see if the Suns — who really can’t afford a bust at this point in their evolution– play it safe once again or take a chance on a talented enigma such as Perry Jones III or Austin Rivers.

Personally, I think they will take the best available shooting guard out of Dion Waiters, Terrence Ross, Jeremy Lamb and Rivers, with Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall a consideration as well.

The Phoenix Suns face a franchise-altering summer with only about $30 million in committed salary for next season and many free agents to replace or re-sign, but before we get to that they will pick a player they expect to become a big part of the next era of Suns basketball whenever that may begin.

To help you make sense of all of the Suns’ potential draft picks, here are excerpts from Mike Schmitz’s analyses of the prospects:

Dion Waiters“From a basketball standpoint Waiters would bring a ton of talent to the Suns. He plays a lot like Rodney Stuckey in his ability to get to the rim and finish through contact. He’s always in attack mode and the Suns need that in the worst way.

“But even with that said, is Waiters worth a promise? Is he that big of a steal at No. 13? While I like Waiters and his potential, to say he’s head and shoulders above fellow shooting guards Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers, and Terrence Ross would be false.”

Terrence Ross: “Blanks described the Suns’ ideal solution: a guard who can create and make shots, get out in transition, and defend the perimeter. Of all the players expected to be available at No. 13, few prospects fit that bill better than former Washington guard Terrence Ross.

“The 21-year-old 6-foot-7, 197-pound swingman gets after it on defense, can shoot it from distance and create his own shot off the dribble while thriving in an up-tempo style — Washington plays at a Suns-like pace.

“He’s exactly what Blanks and the Suns are looking for on the perimeter and given his current stock he might be one of the most likely candidates to end up in purple and orange next season.”

Jeremy Lamb: “It’s no secret Phoenix could use that scoring punch, and if Lamb were to fall to No. 13 it would be tough for the Suns not to pounce. Although Lamb is a project in terms of his build and isolation game, he has a great offensive feel, is a smooth operator and can put the ball in the hole, which the Suns need in the worst way.”

Austin Rivers: “With little to no star power and Steve Nash getting older and possibly leaving the Valley, the Suns need a new face of the franchise. There are few players expected to be available at No. 13 with the makeup and skill-set to potentially carry the title of ‘face of the franchise.’

“All off-balance threes, bad body language and missed open shooters aside, Rivers is one of them.”

Kendall Marshall: “Marshall is NBA ready, he has great size, and some have compared his below the rim, controlled game to Jason Kidd’s. That may be a bit of a stretch, but Marshall is a point guard in the truest sense of the word and if the Phoenix Suns decide to go floor general over electric wing, he should be their guy if he’s available.

“Sure, he struggles defending the perimeter and lacks any sort of mid-range game or explosiveness, but Marshall can get a team into its offense and if the Suns want a steady point guard for years to come, he’s their guy.”

Damian Lillard: “Lillard thrives in transition (27.3 percent of his offense), he’s great out of the pick and roll (1.04 points per possession), he can shoot it from distance (40.9 percent from three), and he’s a freak athlete (6-foot-8 wingspan with a 39.5-inch vertical).

“He most likely won’t slide to No. 13, but if he does it could be a match made in heaven.”

Perry Jones III: “Yes, he does have the skills to be a franchise-changer down the road, but the Suns are in dire need of young talent. They can’t afford to swing and miss on this one, and Jones is the exact player who will drop 12 to six into the strike zone and get Phoenix caught looking for strike three.

“While it’s going to be tempting to pull the trigger on a talent like Jones, the Suns should stay as far away as possible because the last thing they need is Earl Clark 2.0.”

Royce White: “If the Suns were able to snatch up a second first-round pick White should undoubtedly be a target they consider. If Phoenix can’t acquire another pick, White may end up making the Suns and a handful of other teams regret doubting him.”

And here’s Blanks on a pair of prospects:

Marshall: He “is a well-accomplished winning point guard. Quite frankly that’s the thing I like the most about him. He’s a winner, and that’s something that we aspire to do obviously in this business, and more specifically that’s a position of need.”

Arnett Moultrie: He “offers a level of athleticism. He’s still trending up, getting better as a player, so that’s someone that could potentially grow with an organization.”

  • Tony

    The Suns FO makes it so difficult to be a fan of the team. Why is it that so many teams, such as the Rockets, Warriors, Magic, even the Lakers, and others, are aggressively pursuing options to improve their respective franchises and yet, we hear nothing from the Suns FO? Rebuilding with one draft pick a year doesn’t make any sense. The team needs to acquire multiple 1st round picks!

    Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Dan Bickley, Lance Blanks equated having lame duck status as GM with Sarver or Babby firing him because he’s bald! It’s unfair to judge him based on his media interviews but still, the guy comes across as a total moron.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    Actually, I’ve seen some fan posts critical of the Rockets (naturally, there ARE Houston fans who are critical of their management), but I agree with you in that I think they’re making the right moves, and aggressive ones at that.

    However, as far as the Suns go, it could be unusually hard to jiggle draft picks loose from teams this year, with so much size and talent in the first round, a new CBA that encourages building through the draft, and a team like Houston burning up their roster in order to get picks. The Suns might have better luck getting a pick in the 2nd round, which so far as I can tell is mostly unheralded.

    Also consider that the Suns are probably looking to bring back virtually the whole team from last year, ideally. The Suns only need the extra picks if they can’t get back their top free agents, if they lose Lopez, or if they make a lopsided multi-player trade.

    If everything goes well, they’d sign Brooks to be the backup guard for Nash, pushing Telfair back to 3rd PG (replacing Price), and they’d use their #13 pick to get a young SG to replace Brown. That fills the roster.

    However, I don’t know where the star comes from that keeps Nash on the team. Maybe the Suns are hoping that Brooks and the draft pick would be enough. Maybe they think no other team can offer Nash the contract they can, and in the end, that will be sufficient.

    We’ll have to see what happens.

    As for Bickley, I think you know I have a low opinion of his writing in general. He’s always got an ax to grind or a dagger to bury in someone’s back. In this case, though, I think you’re misunderstanding Blanks. He’s not a gifted communicator. What he means to say, I believe, is that you need to be self-motivated, not motivated or de-motivated by contract length, because contracts are usually not as long as the person under contract would like. Players or staff can be replaced on a whim, more or less.

    So, if it takes 3-5 years to fully regenerate the team, will Gentry, who has one year left on his contract, lose out? Not get renewed because the team is losing under his watch? Babby also has one year: will he get tossed? Blanks has two more years; will he get released before the rebuild is done, or will his contract be renewed so he can see the project through? Who knows?

    Blanks is saying you don’t look at it that way. You just meet the needs of the day, do your job the best you can, and don’t worry about the next contract.

    “To me, it’s not about the contract. It’s about getting up and doing the best you can with what’s in front of you, and facing the challenges that you’re faced with. That contract is only a piece of paper, and a piece of paper can’t be what makes you comfortable. If that’s the case, you’re probably in the wrong business.”

    Naturally, Bickley follows this up with wondering aloud, “Is Blanks in the right business?” And that’s because Bickley sees it as his job to undermine everybody and make them look foolish and insufficient. Since it’s easy to cast aspersions and put out false stories, and underpin them with the actual mistakes good people make – because no one is perfect – Bickley can seem to be reporting the truth when he is in actuality pissing on everyone.

    Blanks may not be the right guy for the Suns. He’s already made one mistake. But it doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy or that the next person in his position will do a better job. Very few people in the NBA front offices hit the ball out of the park every time they’re at bat. Most of them swing and miss, swing and miss, and then occasionally get lucky.