Stanford Cardinal swingman Josh Huestis worked out with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday in a group that included Jahii Carson, Tim Frazier, Cory Jefferson, Taylor Braun and Patric Young. Huestis isn’t currently listed in Draft Express’ mock draft, but he could make his way into the 2014 NBA Draft as a second round project pick.
Huestis is 6-foot-7 in shoes and comes with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. The Stanford swingman molded himself from a raw, hardly-used player into a significant contributor during his last two years in school. In his senior year he averaged 11 points, eight boards and nearly two blocks per game. There is no doubt his strengths come on the defensive end, where he uses his reach and athleticism to challenge shots at the rim despite being the size of a small forward.
During the Suns’ workout on Wednesday, Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough said Huestis proved he has appealing defensively versatility.
“It was a competitive workout defensively,” McDonough said. “Huestis and Jefferson and Young and Braun all kind of guarded each other and showed the ability to guard on the block and the perimeter. That was one of the things that stood out. There were not a lot of easy shots in this workout.”
While his offensive skills are developing and he proved to be capable of knocking down the three-point shot at a 34-percent clip over the last two seasons, Huestis is playing catch-up in regards to his perimeter skills. He played center while in high school in Great Falls, Montana, and though he slid to power forward and even small forward at Stanford playing alongside big man Stefan Nastic and fellow NBA prospect Dwight Powell, it remains to be seen whether he can improve enough to be a capable NBA player.
“The challenge is developing ball skills and that’s where he will have to keep improving,” McDonough said. “Working on his handle and making plays away from the basket. He has good length, his stroke looks pretty good and he has all the intangibles as well.”
As 22-year-old senior, NBA front offices would have to believe Huestis can truly shift to a full-time perimeter position in the NBA. There’s reason to believe he can grow as a spot-up shooter, but his 1.4 assists per 40 minutes isn’t ideal, either. In college, Huestis did most of his damage at the rim, where he finished at a 69 percent clip, according to Hoop-Math.com. He will have to learn how to get to the rim in the NBA.
How he would fit on the Suns
Huestis certainly could be available with the 50th overall pick, but whether the Suns would need his services immediately probably falls closer to unlikely than likely. Even if P.J. Tucker isn’t retained in free agency, Marcus Morris and Gerald Green could see time at the small forward spot in Jeff Hornacek’s rotation. And that’s assuming the Suns don’t add a more skilled wing with any of their first round picks — certainly there will be many available in the middle of the first round, from K.J. McDaniels, to James Young, to T.J. Warren, to Rodney Hood. But if the Suns do think Huestis can continue to develop, he could be a solid player to stash in the D-League as he develops his perimeter skillset.
Jeffrey Sanders contributed to this article