Mar 22, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Tyler Ennis (11) during the game against the Dayton Flyers in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Ennis works out for Suns, Russ Smith returns

PHOENIX — The clock is ticking. Six days from now, the Phoenix Suns will be hunkered down in U.S. Airways Center with first-hand workouts of more than two rounds worth of prospects helping to construct a big board that will guide their NBA Draft decisions.

The Suns held their final open workout on Friday and got a look at likely lottery point guard Tyler Ennis and first-round-projected forward Cleanthony Early. Phoenix also brought Russ Smith back for his second workout with the team, along with Oregon State forward Eric Moreland and Cincinnati forward Justin Jackson. In a separate workout, the Suns got a look at Latvian forward Ojars Silins and Swedish small forward Viktor Gaddefors.

Green is good

Shabazz Napier, Elfrid Payton and Jusuf Nurkic were surprisingly invited to the green room as likely top-20 picks, a sign of just how crazy the 2014 draft could become.

As recently as a week ago, Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis didn’t appear to be an option for Phoenix unless it thought about moving a few spots up in the lottery. Now it’s quite possible Ennis falls to them at No. 14. The Suns got a good look at the young point guard, who confirmed he also would be in the green room.

Green isn’t what the 19-year-old Ennis looks like on film or in person. On Friday, he went up against senior Russ Smith, who was visiting Phoenix for the second time.

“Russ is very active,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He plays a lot of the game like it’s playground game, you know, he’s got the between the legs, where Tyler’s maybe … plays it very straight, so there’s a contrast there.”

General manager Ryan McDonough, who called Ennis’ late-game possessions with the Orange “off-the-charts,” said the point guard played solid man-to-man defense against the speedy Smith, something that squashes the always present, Syracuse-players-only-play-zone worry.

“Tyler, what you saw on film is what you see today,” Hornacek added. “He doesn’t really try to push things, in terms of forcing things, he just takes what’s given. He’s got great reads.”

Ennis’ workout schedule makes it easy to project where he could be selected. He said the Los Angeles Lakers had the highest pick of teams that invited him in, while the Toronto Raptors at 20th were the lowest. Ennis would be a stop-gap if the Suns can’t retain Eric Bledsoe this summer or Goran Dragic after the season.

“I think everybody kind of sees me as a pass-first point guard,” Ennis said. “What I want to show is I can defend the point guard position – coming from Syracuse a lot of people question that – and that I can shoot the NBA three.”

Suns eyeing Smith?

One would assume the Suns have major interest in Russ Smith considering his ball-hawking ability in the fullcourt and his speed in transition. They like Smith’s creativeness off the dribble, and certainly he could fit a role similar to Ish Smith’s. But it’s hard to say whether he’ll be an option with the 50th pick, or if he’ll be available at all.

So does Smith take a second workout with a team as a sign?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I really don’t know.”

Phoenix was the only team to invite him back, though Smith will return to work out for the Clippers after missing a portion of his first workout with an injury.

Arguably, the Suns’ invite had value because Phoenix wanted to match the young Ennis against elite speed. Workout pairings could make or break the context and importance of how each player succeeds in an environment where 5-on-5 play isn’t allowed.

“Some of these guys, you ask them to come back, they kind of moan about it playing, say how tired they are,” McDonough said. “Russ, I feel like could play two more games and do three more workouts tonight and be fine.”

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