April 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Kendall Marshall (12) drives to the basket during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 118-98. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns: Draft For Talent!

Mar 18, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (1) and guard Kendall Marshall (12) walk up the court in the second half of the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 99-76. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The elephant mistake the Phoenix Suns made on the day of the 2012 NBA Draft, they drafted for need. Prior to the NBA draft, there were 14 players invited to the “Green room” and none of those players were named Kendall Marshall.

In the 2012 NBA draft the Phoenix Suns selected point guard Kendall Marshall with the 13th overall pick in the draft while players like John Henson and Terrence Jones were still on the board. Why did the Suns take Marshall? It wasn’t because Marshall was better than those guys, it wasn’t because Marshall had a higher ceiling, but it was because the Suns were petrified by the thought of Steve Nash leaving(Which he eventually did) and they were desperate to find a point guard who could potentially replace him moving forward.

Ironically enough, it was the same reason the Suns drafted Steve Nash in 1996. The Suns had gotten the news from Kevin Johnson that he was going to retire after one more year(even though he played beyond that), Elliot Perry was being discussed as a potential throw-in as part of the Charles Barkley trade, and ultimately the Suns drafted Nash with hopes that he’d become their point guard of the future.

Eventually Nash did become the face of the franchise but during that summer, the Suns went out and got Jason Kidd and Kidd went on to be the Suns point guard for the next five seasons while Nash trotted off to Dallas for six years before coming back to Phoenix.

Something very similar took place this past offseason. The Suns went out and drafted Kendall Marshall because they needed a point guard but then they went out during free agency and signed Goran Dragic to a four-year deal.

Yes everything worked out for the Suns in 1996 and they’re saying their prayers every night hoping that history will repeat itself but the likelihood of that happening? A Snowball’s chance.

Case in point, the Suns need to go for talent this time around. If history has taught us anything, it is that it’s easy to fill needs in free agency, but talent is hard to come by; especially budget talent. To put things in prospective, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have the services of Kyrie Irving at the cost of roughly $13 million dollars for the next two seasons. That’s a fortune to common folk like ourselves but to NBA stars, that’s a vacation house.

To quote the great Jimmy Johnson(yet again) “The key isn’t getting the picks. The key is picking GOOD players with the picks.”

GOOD players, not NEEDED players.

Apr 10, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks power forward John Henson (31) blocks a shot attempt by Orlando Magic small forward DeQuan Jones (20) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Suns can’t make the same mistake again; they can’t afford to. They can’t expect a miracle like Steve Nash to fall into their lap every decade or two. The Suns made a mistake drafting Kendall Marshall. There was a reason Marshall wasn’t given an invitation to the green room, it was because he was projected to be a mid-late first round pick. In fact, prior to the draft, Marshall was the 24th ranked prospect on Chad Ford’s big board.

When the Suns selected Kendall Marshall with the 13th overall pick last season, they passed up on a lot of good players with extraordinary potential. Guys like John Henson, Terrence Jones and Moe Harkless. Henson was taken by Milwaukee with the following pick, Harkless was the next guy off the board after Henson and Jones was taken 18th overall by the Rockets. All three guys have had better rookie seasons than Marshall and all three guys have shown that their potential are far greater than that of Kendall Marshall’s.

This isn’t a knock on Marshall, it truly isn’t, the 2012 draft was just that good. Marshall would have been worthy of a late lottery pick in most drafts but the 2012 draft was not one them. The Suns passed up on guys like Jones and Henson, those guys would have been top 10 picks in eight out of ten drafts. In fact, both guys were ranked in the top 10 on Ford’s board on draft day.

In this upcoming draft the Suns need to embrace that philosophy of taking the best available player on the board, regardless whether or not the Suns have that position filled. Talent players in the draft are a diamond dozen whereas position players on the free agency market are like public transportation, miss one, next one comes along in ten minutes.

The Suns are still in search for that cornerstone player, and the closest thing they have to that at the moment is Goran Dragic. Dragic is very good player in his own right, but he would have make major strides in terms of both production and repertoire to become a cornerstone level player.

The Phoenix Suns organization is looking for a savior, someone who can return the Suns to it’s full glory and drafting for need isn’t how they’re going to find him.

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