Mar 2, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Ben McLemore (23) shoots a foul shot against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas defeated West Virginia 91-65. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns College Prospect Tracker: 2013 - 1.0

Despite the Phoenix Suns’ recent trend of suddenly beating good teams, they have been pretty bad this season. Phoenix is currently tied for the sixth worst record in the league at 21-39, and was closer to third-worst before the three-game winning streak that the Suns will look to increase to four Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors.

In anticipation of the draft, every Sunday I’m going to look at how the top college prospects are doing on a week-to-week basis, including how they would fit in if the Suns were able to draft any of them. However, today I will just give a list of some of the top players in college basketball and illustrate why and how the Suns would draft that player.

Some top college prospects for 2013 draft (in no particular order):

  • Ben McLemore (6’5″ Kansas shooting guard )
  • Nerlens Noel (6’10” Kentucky power forward)
  • Cody Zeller (7’0″ Indiana center)
  • Alex Len (7’1″ Maryland center)
  • Anthony Bennett (6’8″ UNLV power forward)
  • Shabazz Muhammad (6’6″ UCLA shooting guard)
  • Marcus Smart (6’4″ Oklahoma State point guard)
  • Victor Oladipo (6’5″ Indiana shooting guard)
  • Otto Porter (6’8″ Georgetown small forward)
  • Kelly Olynyk (7’0″ Gonzaga center)

Phoenix is set at point guard with Goran Dragic, who is about average at the position, and rookie Kendall Marshall backing him up as he learns the position. That is why they don’t need Marcus Smart.

Here are a couple scenarios of why the Suns could draft these  other players, contingent on the Suns losing enough games to draft the player in question.

Scenario 1: Suns go for a player that can make an immediate contribution. They waive a shooting guard or small forward or trade a combination of players to make room for the likes of Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett, or Shabazz Muhammad.

Scenario 2: Suns get rid of either Marcin Gortat or Jermaine O’Neal (or both) and bring in a center to develop. This would bring Alex Len, Kelly Olynyk, or Cody Zeller to the valley of the sun.

The only other players left on this top 10 are Nerlens Noel and Victor Oladipo. Noel tore his knee earlier this college season and the Suns might not want to take a chance with him (but their training staff and doctors are so good so . . . maybe).

However, the other reason not to take him is the logjam at power forward in Phoenix. Luis Scola, Markieff Morris and even Channing Frye when he comes back, all play the position, and any combination could still be there. Management has to decide whose ceiling is higher to see who to keep. Also, Oladipo may not be enough of a centerpiece to build around to warrant such a high draft selection by the Suns.

This will all be expanded in future weeks as we look at how the players lead their teams through the March Madness, trying to display their talents and raise their draft stock.


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