Despite the NBA Finals concluding with Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat winning back-to-back championships the draft and the subsequent free agency period gives hope back to those bottom-feeding teams (which for the first time in a long time includes the Suns).
The 2013 NBA draft is in less than a week on Thursday, June 27, and teams can add to their rosters: touted college prospects, diamonds in the rough who can help contenders deepen their roster, and international players some of whom can contribute right away, while some hone their skills abroad.
All the teams are equal again, with no losses, but also no wins. They have a resting and recuperating period to travel, spend quality time with friends and family then get back to work to improve their skills. Management, however, doesn’t have this luxury. During the season, the players earn their paychecks; in the offseason, coaches, general managers and presidents earn theirs. The Suns brass are in this position and they have a lot of work to do.
Ryan McDonough (the new GM) and Jeff Hornacek (the new HC) have to sift through the numerous workouts they have brought in to decide who to add to Phoenix Suns history then move on later to free agents.
I have a few helpful tips:
- Acquire as many draft picks as possible. Only Dragic is off-limits. Trade the valuable assets (Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, and Luis Scola) for picks in this and next year’s draft. These players are veterans and deserve to be able to play for a team that has the decent probability of making the playoffs and contending for a championship next season and beyond.
- Youth Movement. With Phoenix in the midst of a rebuilding project a youth movement is essential. In this situation, growth and unemotional decisions are needed. Neither can be achieved when a rookie is backing up a veteran, due to the respect to that vet giving him the playing time he is used to and owed. This, in turn, stifles the rookie who needs the playing time to grow as a player and a person.
- Go as safe as possible at the top of the draft and with most upside later down. Regardless of whether they will fall to us at number five, we need players in the first round who have high floors. That is to say we can’t rebuild if we draft a “bust”. That is why I advocate drafting Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo or players like that. Ben McLemore would be the opposite, because he has talent, but you don’t know where he will be in five years. It is easier to project the likes of Porter and Oladipo. We need these people to contribute in a few years after we get Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or a similar player who will change the franchise.
- Other than the fifth pick, go for project players that can learn and maybe even break the rotation next year, but won’t destroy chances at Wiggins/Parker. This is going to be hard to screw up with a “weakish” draft in that there aren’t any recognizable superstars. More applies to free agency.
- Draft at least one, maybe two elite (or at least potential to be elite) ball handlers and playmakers, so Dragic is happy and gets the help he needs to thrive more. This would really help and would be one of the only reasons not to take Oladipo if he falls to #5. He is a good defender, but unlike a point guard isn’t known for his playmaking or elite ball handling skills. If somehow you could take Oladipo with #5 then trade to #7 and take Trey Burke or Michael Carter-Williams that would really work.
Overall, the rebuilding process takes smart draft picks and lots of them. So I hope Phoenix takes the opportunity to gain as many young talented players as possible on Thursday.