PHOENIX – “Kendall was a great host. That was my best friend in school. He was generous. He’s been a great host. He picked me up from the airport on time, like I told him to.” – Reggie Bullock on Kendall Marshall, his former teammate at North Carolina
The S-word might follow Reggie Bullock around a bit much. It hampers his stock yet also defines him as what he already is, an NBA-ready swingman who can knock down open shots more than anything. The S-word, if you haven’t figured it out, is “safe.”
Despite leaving the North Carolina Tar Heels after his junior season, Bullock knows what he is and that could be his biggest strength. In his third NCAA season, Bullock hit 44 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers, according to Synergy Sports Technology. He scored 13.9 points per game while shooting 53 percent from two-point range and 43 percent from three playing within Roy Williams’ offense and usually efficiently at that.
“Reggie is a good player,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough said when Bullock worked out Saturday. “He’s one of the better shooters in the country. I think the guys who can defend and shoot with size are becoming more and more valuable right now.
“Haven’t gone to Carolina myself,” McDonough said, “I’m a fan.”
Bullock stands 6-foot-7 in shoes and projects as a small forward in a mold of a more athletic Jared Dudley. He is a willing defender and can fit in with most teams finishing on the break and making the right plays without forcing the issue.
“I think (defense) will definitely help me,” Bullock said. “I’m not saying I’m one of the best defensive players in this draft, but I take defensive assignments pretty personal. I just don’t like getting beat off the dribble and people scoring on me.”
Bullock’s athleticism might be better than Jared Dudley’s, but relatively to other prospects in the draft, he’s only average. The former Tar Heel is a tad bit thin for an NBA small forward when considering the elite players in LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay. He’s also limited in explosiveness.
Offensively, Bullock doesn’t turn the ball over and can knock down open jumpers, but he’s not skilled enough to be a shot-creator for himself or others. He lacks the ball handling skills to really make too many moves off the dribble and doesn’t have much of a playmaking ability.
This all puts that label of Bullock being a safe pick back on the table.
Winning teams could look at Bullock as a Danny Green-esque building block and a piece to the puzzle toward the end of the first round. But when all things are considered, Bullock could be fighting for a spot with guys like Tony Mitchell, a questionable prospect from a smaller school who has more of that P-word – potential.
Bullock’s stock very well could depend on whether teams are feeling uneasy about the options on the board. One thing is clear, and that’s what Bullock is right now. He’s 22 years old and mature enough to know his limitations; whether knowing his strengths and weaknesses helps him off the bat or hurts him is hard to say.
How he fits with the Suns
Down the road, Bullock’s career arc could very well reflect similarly to Jared Dudley’s, and because of it and also Ryan McDonough’s familiarity with the fellow Tar Heel, Bullock could be a fine pick at 30th overall. He’s slated to go sooner and with so many questions in the draft, falling to 30th isn’t completely out of the question.
There’s no question the Suns need shooting and defending at the perimeter, especially if they make any moves to free up
Again, McDonough has said that Phoenix might not double-up on positions with all three picks — assuming all three players join the team next season. So if Phoenix goes with a shooting guard or small forward with the No. 5 selection, it’s possible they do something different at 30th.
- The Suns’ assistant coaching staff could be completely settled soon. As Paul Coro reported, Phoenix will bring on a former teammate of Jeff Hornacek and Mark West, Kenny Gattison.
- Filling the fourth spot could be a Boston connection of McDonough’s. The Boston Globe reported that Doc Rivers defensive general Mike Longabardi committed to join Hornacek before the Clippers traded a first-round pick for the Celtics to release Rivers. It’s unclear if Longabardi will change his mind about joining the Suns.
- And in a separate but related note, Alvin Gentry could be a candidate to join Rivers’ staff with the Clippers, but he’s still one favorite for the Memphis opening. He could also consider joining the Lakers’ staff, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
- Michael Carter-Williams tweeted that he is returning to Phoenix, presumably to work out again for the Suns.