Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Draft: Dwight Powell brings unique skills with concerns


PHOENIX — Many Suns fans familiar with Dwight Powell believe he’s the perfect fit in Phoenix.

An athletic power forward who can step out of the paint to hit jumpers, Stanford Cardinal stretch 4 could be around when Phoenix picks 50th overall. If the Suns don’t come away with a more sure-fire but similar choice such as Michigan State big man Adreian Payne in the first round, Powell becomes a potential prize.

“(I want to) definitely try to take advantage of the opportunity I have,” Powell said of his Friday workout in Phoenix, “whether that’s back to the basket opportunities, facing the basket opportunities, shot blocks, whatever it is just trying to show my full tool set.”

It’s what Powell didn’t do that has him dropping so far in mock drafts. At 6-foot-11 in shoes, he’s a true power forward. His inconsistency playing in Stanford lends reasons for concern about his development.

In his junior season, Powell shot 46 percent from three-point range but only took an attempt per game. Suddenly, his name was on the draft map, but he did little his senior year to build his resume. The three-point percentage plummeted to 29 percent, his 14.9 points per game dropped to 14 even and he grabbed a rebound-and-a-half fewer as a senior.

So the team workouts Powell runs through over the next month will be more important for him than others.

“A lot of the guys we had in today, most of them were major college players, so they played at a high level,” said Suns general manager Ryan McDonough on Friday. “Some of them maybe get a chance to expand their roles out here and get a chance to see a few things they didn’t necessarily get to do on their college teams. I think that … can be one of the revealing points of the process. Sometimes they surprise you.”

Powell hopes he surprised.

The Suns’ workouts include a lot of simulated game action, and coach Jeff Hornacek insinuated their drilling does enough to uncover some skill sets they might not have seen watching game tape.

“We do, throughout the workout, different drills that give us an idea,” he said. “Can they handle the ball at all? Can they pass? (Powell is) a guy that’s working on things.”

Powell admitted that even his label as a stretch 4 leaves him some cleaning up to do. His shot, he says, is only out to the college three-point line, and despite his 35-inch max vertical and 234-pound frame, there is room for physical growth. When working out against a group where he had the most size — Davidson forward De’Mon Brooks was the second-biggest at 6-foot-7 and 217 pounds — Powell did show that he can go in the post against smaller players.

Hitting the low post isn’t foreign to Powell, who with added weight could post NBA power forwards and finish over them with a consistent right hook shot. He took 36 percent of his total shot attempts at the rim and hit 65 percent there, according to Hoop-Math.com.

Against larger players, he likewise presents matchup problems.

Perhaps the one thing he’s leaning on is his playmaking ability. Stanford ran the offense through Powell on the elbows with their triangle offense under coach Johnny Dawkins, and his ability to put the ball on the deck and face up could be an intriguing possibility for a Suns team that could use an inside-out power forward.

Powell averaged 3.1 assists per game his senior year to lead the Cardinal.

“I think there’s obviously value being able to spot up, space the floor and knock down shots,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said of Powell. “But if your bigs can also catch it – you’d be, I don’t think, running pick-and-rolls with him – make a dribble or two and hit a guy on the next pass, I think there is value to that. I think his versatility stands out.”

Don’t expect the Suns to reach for a stretch power forward. Expect them to take the best player available. They don’t like limiting themselves by position, but they do like drafting on positionless basketball.

On Thursday, Hornacek was asked about the appeal of stretch 4s, and what came out as a joke might have been quite telling about last year’s biggest weakest — and another promise that versatility goes a long way.

“You know, I’d still like a guy who can post up inside,” he cracked. “If they can show that and play outside … if they’re multi-dimensial, that’s good.”

  • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

    “You know, I’d still like a guy who can post up inside,” yeah Jeff, you and everybody else on Planer Orange! Enough with all the PGs already, take this young man with the 50th pick!

  • 4everis2long

    I don’t know what happened to my prior comment but Kev, good article. EBJM, he can definitely post up and enjoys the contact. He also likes to play at the elbow and drive to the hole or pass it. He is pretty versatile. I seriously doubt he last to #50. He is going to start moving up the board in another week or so.

    • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

      Is he worth a #27th pick if the Suns take a wing and/or point with the 14th and 18th?

      • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Kevin Zimmerman

        If the Suns think they can bring out his aggressiveness I think he’s certainly worth a look. But that’s a big ??? in my mind. Like McD and Hornacek pointed out, college system can hide aggressiveness. Look no further than McLemore last year, Miles Plumlee at Duke, list goes on and on.

        • 4everis2long

          I agree Kev. To play inside requires a mindset of toughness. I think he has it but I think players from Stanford are typically questioned on that issue because they have options away from basketball.

        • Sam

          Kevin unfortunately aggressiveness must either be in the genes or it’s not going to consistently come out. For example no one can kill the “aggressive” in Tucker because it’s in his blood, but when it’s off-and-on then it means it doesn’t exist other than by force and that can lead to Scola, Frye or even Plumlee to some degree.

  • Sam

    Why risk the season with these new if/maybe/but 6’11′ rookie players, just sign Haddadi with 5+ years experience and have a 7’2″/265 giant who can dominate the paint and good for consistent 14point/10rebounds/2blocks. Unless he’s big, tough and consistent he would become just another mediocere Frye or Plumlee. Suns needs hustlers, people like Tuker, Dudley, Haddadi, players who don’t mind getting hurt or foul as long as they grab the rebound.

    • 4everis2long

      Can Haddadi play power forward Sam? Just wondering.

      • Sam

        In his Youtube videos you can see him fighting off 4-5 opponents, pushing them back like a bulldozer and puting the ball in the basket, ofcourse what I meant was “bring Haddadi back as the center, even starter center, then sign a consistent power-forward like Zach-Randolph(if available) or another tough, consistent power forward. I know some like Morris Twins but I think they’re not great defenders and mediocere rebounders, I would keep one and trade the other. Markieff, Tucker and a 250lbs+ power-F, possibly a more accurate Plumlee will make this team complete if Haddadi and second 7′+/260+ centers are on the roster. I would trade or wave Frye too, he was a liability years ago and he’s the same now, a weak defender and rebounder.

    • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

      I actually like Hamed Hadadi and wished Phoenix would have kept him BUT he looks like a Super-Star everywhere except the NBA. Those stats you are quoting appear to be from ’13-’14 while he player in China, Asia and Iran. In fact while in the Iranian league he posted highs of 52 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

      The problem is when he plays in the NBA he is rarely makes his appearance noticed. In only 17 games with Phoenix he did grab 5 boards per game in only 13 minutes. His per 36 minutes for those same 17 games were about 11/13/3.

      I think the big red flag comes up when looking at his time in Memphis, he couldn’t beat out Darko Milicic, Hasheem Thabeet or Marresse Speights. The Grizzlies ended up with Kosta Koufos after shipping him to Toronto with Rudy Gay the previous season who then sent him to Phoenix for Sebastian Telfair at the trade deadline.

      For me the most discouraging sign for Hadadi was when the Grizzlies used their #2 overall pick in ’09 on Hasheem Thabeet because Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley wanted Thabeet despite having future DPOY Marc Gasol and Hadadi on the roster. G.M. Chris Wallace was set to take Stephen Curry instead. That has to hurt almost as much as when the Blazers took Oden over Durant.

      Personally I think he was a casualty of the Suns over-haul because he ended the season as a free-agent. Suns draft Alex Len and then trade Gortat and Scola while adding Plumlee. Hadadi was already 29 and most likely didn’t fit the Suns youth-movement at that time.But in his short time in Phoenix he seemed better suited to play in the Suns style more so than the slowed-down, plodding style of Memphis.

      I love this guy’s attitude though as he is quoted back in ’09 when he demanded a trade from Memphis; “I want to play regularly for the Grizzlies; nevertheless I will have to change my team now since I am a star of the team but sitting on the bench”. But a 30 year-old 7′-2″ 265# center with that attitude who is able to drop 52/17/7 last season even though it was the Iranian League sure seems he could help Phoenix who is in win-now mode more than Plumlee or Len.

      • Sam

        Earl I’ll go over your comment one by one, I type in CAPS(not yelling :) ):
        ———-
        I actually like Hamed Hadadi and wished Phoenix would have kept him BUT he looks like a Super-Star everywhere except the NBA. Those stats you are quoting appear to be from ’13-’14 while he played in China, Asia and Iran. In fact while in the Iranian league he posted highs of 52 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
        TRUE, THE STATS ARE FROM THE TEAMS WHERE HE WAS THE STARTER CENTER WITH 30MINUTES OR MORE PLAYTIME. IN HIS MEMPHIS/PHOENIX TERMS HE WAS NEVER GIVEN THE CHANCE TO START EVEN WHEN THE MAIN CENTER WAS HURT. HOLLINS ABUSED, DEGRADED AND PUT HIM DOWN BY BENCHING HIM 2-3 GAMES AFTER EVERY GREAT PERFORMANCE.

        The problem is when he plays in the NBA he is rarely makes his appearance noticed. In only 17 games with Phoenix he did grab 5 boards per game in only 13 minutes. His per 36 minutes for those same 17 games were about 11/13/3.
        IN HIS 17 PHOENIX GAMES HIS (+/-) STAT WAS ON TOP OF THE TEAM WITH -8 COMPARED TO MORRIS BROTHERS AT -122 AND -128 AND WES JOHNSON AT -175!
        INFACT VERY FEW CENTERS CAN SCORE HIS PHOENIX AVERAGE IN 13-MINUTES WHILE NOT BEING SELFISH AND PASSING. IN HIS FINAL PHOENIX GAME HE SCORED 14POINTS/7REBUNDS/BLOCKS IN 19:55 MINUTES. MARC GASOL HAS NEVER DONE THAT NEITHER HAS GORTAT. I SAW HADDADI MAKE 3 THREE-POINTERS IN A ROW AGAINST US-REP TEAM IN JONES CUP, AND HIS DEFENSE IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS FOR SOMEONE TALLER THAN SHAQ! THE REASON HE PERFORMS GREAT OUTSIDE NBA IS NOT BECAUSE THE OPPONENTS ARE WEAK, THAT’S ONLY 30%, THE MAIN REASON IS BECAUSE HE’S A STARTER/LEADER OF THE TEAM AND PERMITTED TO SHOOT AT WILL. IN NBA, SPECIALLY MEMPHIS, HIS JOB WAS TO DEFEND, REBOUND AND PASS UNLESS UNDER THE BASKET.

        I think the big red flag comes up when looking at his time in Memphis, he couldn’t beat out Darko Milicic, Hasheem Thabeet or Marresse Speights. The Grizzlies ended up with Kosta Koufos after shipping him to Toronto with Rudy Gay the previous season who then sent him to Phoenix for Sebastian Telfair at the trade deadline.
        INFACT HADDADI’S PHOENIX PER-36 WHICH IS THE NEAREST(STILL 1/2 TO 1/3) TO A NORMAL PLAYTIME WAS 10.6POINTS/13.3 REBOUNDS(WITH HESITANCE TO SHOOT) WHILE EVEN MARC-GASOL’S WAS 14.5POINTS/8REBOUNDS (WITH DUTEY TO SHOOT). THABEET WAS TERRIBLE COMPARED TO HADDADI WITH 7.5POINTS/9.1 REBOUNDS AND HE’S SIGNED BY ONE OF THE BEST TEAMS OKC FOR $1.2MIL! SPEIGHTS WHO WAS IN HOLLINS’S FAVORITS CIRCLE WAS A POWER-FORWARD PLAYING CENTER AND ZACH RANDOLPH’S BACKUP, HE TOOK ALOT OF SHOTS AND SCORED MORE AT ONLY 42.9% FG%

        For me the most discouraging sign for Hadadi was when the Grizzlies used their #2 overall pick in ’09 on Hasheem Thabeet because Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley wanted Thabeet despite having future DPOY Marc Gasol and Hadadi on the roster. G.M. Chris Wallace was set to take Stephen Curry instead. That has to hurt almost as much as when the Blazers took Oden over Durant.
        CURRY WAS EXACTLY WHAT GRIZZ NEEDED, GRIZZ MANAGEMENT HAS BEEN REGULARLY MAKING MISTAKES WHEN IT COMES TO PLAYERS. FIRST THEY PAY RUDY GAY THREE TIMES WHAT HE’S WORTH, THEN THEY SIGN THABEET, LET GO OF SPEIGHTS TO HELP OVER-CAP THEN HADDADI OUT, MAYO OUT AND THEY BRING THE BURNED OUT PRINCE WITH MORE ZERO POINTS THAT ANY STARS! THEN THEY FIRE HOLLINS AFTER CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT.

        Personally I think he was a casualty of the Suns over-haul because he ended the season as a free-agent. Suns draft Alex Len and then trade Gortat and Scola while adding Plumlee. Hadadi was already 29 and most likely didn’t fit the Suns youth-movement at that time.But in his short time in Phoenix he seemed better suited to play in the Suns style more so than the slowed-down, plodding style of Memphis.
        LEN TURNED OUT TO BE A BOXER WHO CAN’T REBOUND! PLUMLEE A JUMPER WHO CAN’T SHOOT. HADDADI STILL HAS ANOTHER 7-8 YEARS IN HIM UNLESS HE INJURES HIMSELF. I THINK WITH SO MANY GREAT GUARDS SUNS HAS HE’D BE A GREAT PAINT-PROTECTION AND A FINISHER, ALSO A REBOUNDER TO PREVENT SO MANY SECOND AND THIRD CHANCES BY OPPONENTS.

        I love this guy’s attitude though as he is quoted back in ’09 when he demanded a trade from Memphis; “I want to play regularly for the Grizzlies; nevertheless I will have to change my team now since I am a star of the team but sitting on the bench”. But a 30 year-old 7′-2″ 265# center with that attitude who is able to drop 52/17/7 last season even though it was the Iranian League sure seems he could help Phoenix who is in win-now mode more than Plumlee or Len.
        THEY EITHER MISQUOTED HIM OR HE WAS TRYING TO SAY SOMETHING ELSE, HIS ENGLISH IS GETTING BETTER WAS 2-3 YEARS AGO HE HARDLY SPOKE. NORMALLY HE’S VERY SHY AND SELFLESS. HE’S AN ASIAN STAR BUT IN NBA HE WENT TO THE WRONG TEAM, WRONG TOWN AND UNDER WRONG COACH!
        HE SHOULDN’T HAVE STARTED IN THE BIBLE-BELT, MAYBE LA, SEATLE, GOLDEN-STATE OR PHOENIX WOULD’VE BEEN GREAT, IN LA HE WOULD’VE BROUGHT THOUSAND+ IRANIANS TO THE STADIUM FOR EVERY GAME.
        ON FRIDAY NIGHT AUGUST 29TH (US-TIME) HE AND THE IRAN’S TEAM WILL PLAY AGAINST MARC-GASOL AND SPAIN TEAM IN SPAIN FIBA-2014. HE WAS MARC-GASOL’S FRIEND AND TRAINING PARTNER FOR 5 YEARS, IT’S INTERESTING TO SEE HOW THEY DO AGAINST EACHOTHER.

        • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

          Hey, I said I liked the guy!

          • Sam

            I know, just explaining what happened and why because I followed his career for years :)

          • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

            He is the star in one of the International; leagues that he happens to be playing in. Do you think he will get another shot in the NBA?

          • Sam

            For now he’s training in LA for the August’s FIBA tournament in Spain. He has a good agent, depending on his performance in FIBA against the world’s best he might get a fair contract from NBA specially after his release from Suns cost the center-less** suns the playoffs and cost Knicks the same after they didn’t sign him and Chandler got injured. (**Suns had Frye and Plumlee but Frye couldn’t defend or rebound and Plumlee couldn’t defend or shoot.)

          • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

            Well when the Suns released him they had just drafted Alex Len, Gortat was still a Sun as well as Scola. Suns trade Scola for Plumlee a month after releasing Haddadi. Two months after releasing Haddai they acquired Kravtsov from the Bucks. Frye was cleared to play a little more than two months later .

            So before October 25 the Suns had Gortat, Plumlee,Len, Frye and Kravtsov. You can hardly blame McD for releasing Haddai almost four months earlier.

          • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

            But come to think of it, I wonder why McD chose to bring Shavlik Randolph in late in the season instead of bringing Haddai back? If I had to choose between the two I would have gone with Haddadi simply because he did play well for Phoenix in his limited time there.

          • Sam

            He was playing for the new Chinese team Sichuan Blue-Whales for part of 2013-14 season. I don’t think McD or Horny bring him back because Horny only likes guards and McD prefers blondes! He could’ve easily kept the 29 year old Haddadi and have 7 years of experienced playtime instead he brought 3 guys who waste 3 years gaining experience. I like Randolph more than Len, he’s a hustler what Suns needs only a few inches too short to be dominant as a center. Right now Suns has two 6’10″s and two 6’11″s, considering the added wingspan of players like Haddadi the team is about 6″ to 7″ of reach shorter than what it can be. Pau Gasol is another center that might show up in trades.

          • Sam

            Haddadi was waved around June 28, 2013 to free up $1.4mil-200k=$1.2mil cash. At the same time Frye was getting ready to return and he returned around Sept 28, 2013. Alex Len was picked 2 month after Haddadi around August 29, 2013. Since McD is paying $6.8Mil for Frye + $3.65mil for Len + $1.17mil for Plumlee I can’t see how McD could justify waving a $1.4mil 7’2″/265. That’s paying $11.6million to 3 guys who can hardly makeup for one $1.4mil guy considering all the playtime they wasted.

          • EarlBlackJesusMonroe

            Haddadi was waived AFTER the draft which was held June 27 and had the Suns selecting Alex Len. Drafting Len was most likely the end of Haddadi as besides saving the $1.2 million Len was given any of Haddai’s potential minutes at that time.

            Channing Frye despite missing the previous season was still under contract, he had two years remaining. Additionally the Suns and the majority of fans love Frye.

            McD asking for Miles Plumlee in the Scola trade pretty much summed up his feelings about Haddai as Plumlee would be the 3rd center at the time of the trade.

            Picking up Kratsov and his $1.5 million dollar salary in the Butler salary dump gave them center #4. That deal saved Phoenix about $6 million.

            Trading Gortat gave everyone the impression they were tanking for the lottery as that left Len and Plumlee as the two of the three centers. There wasn’t a want or need for a 29 year-old 7′-2″ and 265# center as they had Kratsov as the 3rd center.