Cleanthony Early was a prolific scorer last season at Wichita State, averaging16.4 points per game and 23.7 points per 40 minutes. The 6-foot-8 forward has a very strong frame and great athleticism that includes quickness and good leaping ability. Early can score the basketball in pretty much any fashion from posting up to transition to perimeter shooting to attacking the basket. More impressive may be the efficiency that he scores with, shooting a true percentage of 64 from the field, which was seventh in the nation last year.
Early is considered to be a tweener. At 6-foot-8, he is undersized to play power forward like he did in college, which means he will have to learn a whole new position. That does not bode well for a player that has a poor feel for the game. According to draftexpress.com, Early’s assist percentag of 6.1 is among the lowest since the stat was kept track of in 2001. He is very bad with his ball handling skills and is not strong in one-on-one situations, which will be a problem if Early is to play the small forward position in the NBA. The tweener issue is apparent on defense as well.
The x-factor with Early will be how he develops into a small forward. He’s probably going to need time to develop his offensive tools so he will need to be drafted by a team that would allow him time and attention to improve certain parts of his game. It would have benefited Early greatly if he was an inch or two taller so he could play power forward, where his skill set better suits him
How he would fit with the Suns
Early would not have a spot with the Suns this season. If he were to be drafted by the Suns he would probably spend the majority of the season in the D-League developing as a small forward and improving parts of his game. Early is projected as an early second round pick, so if the Suns don’t use their 27th pick on him it is doubtful they could get him later in the second round. In a best case scenario should the Suns draft him, Early develops in Bakersfield and becomes a part of the Suns’ rotation in the 2015-16 season, when there are spots opened up with departures of either Channing Frye or the Morris twins.