International players had until Monday afternoon to pull out of the 2014 NBA Draft, and it’s a particularly important note for the Phoenix Suns, who could very well be targeting international players at any pick. Especially if the Suns are more active than re-signing Eric Bledsoe to a max contract, a few million dollars could be important to set aside for a current NBA player. Additionally, the Suns simply won’t have the roster room for too many rookies.
Here’s a run-down of who’s sticking in the draft and how they might fall into Phoenix’s lap.
Dario Saric: Projected to be selected ahead of the Suns’ No. 14 pick, there’s always a chance Saric, a 6-foot-10 point forward, falls because of how he’s handling the draft process. He’s not working out for teams, and questions linger about whether the 20-year-old would join an NBA club immediately or remain overseas. Those issues could make him available for the Suns, who might be OK with him staying in Europe until they need him — say, if Channing Frye and the Morris twins leave in free agency this year and next.
Jusuf Nurkic: The bruising big man is 6-foot-11, 280 pounds and not yet 20 years old. He’s a late-lottery choice who might fit the profile of a Nikola Pekovic if his ceiling as high as some believe, but that of course is an issue of style. Few teams play with a true low-post center like Nurkic, and even if he was available to the Suns, it would be surprising if they picked him.
Clint Capela: Here’s where things get interesting for the Suns. Capela could go as high as the Suns’ 18th pick or fall all the way down to the 27th selection. On draft night, it might be hard to map out what so many teams are doing in between, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising if they used the 18th pick to reach a bit and grab a player who might not be able to contribute right away.
[RELATED: Clint Capela impresses in Suns workout]
Walter Tavares: The 7-foot-3 big man from Cape Verde is only a few years into his basketball career. Brought to Spain to play basketball without any experience, he has quickly established himself as a rim-protector who has more mobility than most would expect from such a big player. He’s yet to develop much of an offensive game, but his work on the boards is enough to warrant a late first-round or early second-round selection. Teams like the Heat, who he recently worked out for, and the Spurs would love to stash him and watch him develop in a competitive ACB league. That said, Tavares is also reportedly working to get out of his European contract and join a team after the draft.
Vasilije Micic: The 6-foot-6 point guard impressed most recently at EuroCamp and could be an appealing NBA player because of his excellent vision and ability to create plays by simply making the smart play. Though he’s not a great athlete, Micic could survive at the point guard slot with his size, though questions remain about how he can create and break down defenses.
Artem Klimenko: Klimenko doesn’t have any jaw-dropping measureables outside of his height — 7-footers don’t grow on trees, as you know — but he does have a smoothness about him. He has a nice touch in the post, can defend pick-and-rolls well for his size, and run up and down the court without any lumbering. He was one of the few international players, along with Capela, who has worked out for the Suns.
Other names of note: Nemanja Dangubic Nikola Jokic, Damien Inglis, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Ioannis Papapetrou, Cristiano Felicio