It was wild, unprecedented and unpredictable. It’s how I wish every draft went down. Genuine shock and real debate over which players were going where. Anthony Bennett as the No. 1 pick wasn’t even a rumor; until earlier on Thursday, no one even broached the possibility. By the time the draft came around, it was still a case where people thought Noel would go No. 1 — and he drops to No. 6? Awesome drama. The best draft we’ve gotten, all things considered.
After an exciting draft and with a few days to reminisce, I thought I’d bring back my cousin, CBSSports.com college basketball writer, Matt Norlander, to give some expert analysis on the draft and the Suns’ picks.
1. What did you think about the beginning of the draft with how the top-tier of players came off the board?
2. Which team came out best in the draft?
Hard to argue against a team like Portland, which picked up a really solid offensive player and all around good human being in C.J. McCollum. That guy is going to play at least eight years in the pros, provided he can get better the way he did all through college. Then the Blazers get Allen Crabbe, a guy who will be better as a pro than he was at Cal, and Jeff Withey, arguably the best defensive big man in college last season. All three guys could be 10-year players at this level. Portland made out terrifically.
3. Which team came out worst in the draft?
Hmm. How about Indiana? I don’t buy Solomon Hill as an NBA prospect at all — and he was taken way before most thought he would be. And Colton Iverson — while a player I really enjoyed in college — seems a long way from proving himself as a reliable big man in the pros. Maybe he gets there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he earned a living in Europe. Indiana’s got enough to make a run at the Finals next year as is, but this draft for them felt like a missed opportunity.
4. How would you grade the Suns picks together and individually?
Collectively, I’d give the Suns a C+ on the night. Let’s look at their picks.
Alex Len: Some hated this pick for Phoenix. I think it’s a good choice because I think Len is going to be an eight-year starter in the pros. He’s developed well and has a litany of skills around the hoop. He’s physical, he’s what can help the Suns — long-term. Does he get them out of the basement next year? No, but I think Suns fans are OK with that, considering what the 2014 draft offers.
Archie Goodwin: Very hot and cold player. Basically left Kentucky because of all the incoming talent the Wildcats will have. Could’ve used another year, certainly, and even with next year’s loaded draft, he very well could have played himself into a top-20 pick. There was a time he was considered lottery-worthy. I just don’t buy Goodwin as a good NBA player. Take him on a value approach, sure, but will he ever be more than a No. 8 guy?
Alex Oriakhi: This one surprised a lot of people because there were other players out there with higher upside, still available, and yet Phoenix passes on them to take Oriakhi, an athletic big man who had a shaky final two years of college at UConn, then his senior year at Missouri. Just don’t know if he’s cut out for the NBA. I would’ve taken 20 other players at the end of the draft before Alex.
5. Did the draft in general go as you thought it would?
As I said above, definitely not — and that’s the fun of it. From David Stern predictably getting booed … and then getting a standing ovation for his final draft pick announcement as commissioner. Then Adam Silver was roundly booed as he came out for the second round. Hakeem Olajuwon showing up. The picks that went too early (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) and too late (Crabbe, Nate Wolters) on top of the mania from the lottery made for the type of draft we could only hope to get every year, but in reality see once every 20.
Thanks again to Matt for his time and expertise and we’ll check back with him next year for the star-studded 2014 draft, where the Suns are bound to have a high pick.