I caught up post draft with CBS college basketball writer (and my cousin) Matt Norlander to discuss how the Suns’ 2014 draft went.
1. What was surprising to you in the draft?
Two things, non-picks: The Isaiah Austin moment, which we get to below, and the continual appreciation from the fans in attendance toward Adam Silver. We’ll see how this relationship is going forward, but generally speaking sports commissioners are, at best, tolerated by fans. Silver is outright adored at the moment. This could last as long as five or six years for him — and that would be astounding. He was lauded often on draft night, so much so that the deputy commish — which Silver used to be under Stern — was booed when Silver ended his first-round duty. That never happens! It’s always the other way around.
Also surprising: Adreian Payne’s choice of suit and Andrew Wiggins’ choice of jacket. Picks-wise, was most surprised to see Noah Vonleh drop to where he did, but we’ve spoken on this before and I told you I wasn’t as high on him as the mock drafts were leading into this.
2. How special was the moment with Adam Silver and Isaiah Austin?
Editor’s note: If you haven’t, you must set aside a few minutes to read Matt’s fantastic story on Austin’s draft night and the discovery of his Marfan’s syndrome.
It’s something we’re going to remember for a long time. Austin’s likely to be involved with the NBA in some capacity down the road, and this gesture on behalf of Silver/the NBA will be tied to his work with NBA Cares (which I believe he’ll work with). It wasn’t just Silver’s words and actions to Austin. It was the way his family reacted. It was Wiggins’ mother walking over to Austin’s mother and giving her a hug. It was the way people said the mood in the room totally shifted. We hadn’t seen anything like this. And Austin wasn’t prepared for it. He expected a brief mention of his attendance and a thank-you of sorts, but did not think he was getting put on the stage and getting to do radio and TV and press interviews.
We could go another 15 years and not have a moment as powerful or feel-good at the NBA Draft as that.
3. What do you think of the value of Warren (14), Ennis (18), Bogdanovic (27) and Brown (50) and the players themselves?
Warren was brutally underrated until about early March. Had N.C. State not made the NCAA tournament, my guess is he would’ve gone mid-20s. I think Phoenix did well there, but I’ve got to say I’m not sure they drafted to make themselves better right now. Warren could become a decent NBA player, but Ennis, for me, has a lot to prove. And when will Bogdanovic be part of the picture? Alec Brown is a guy I’ve been high on for two years now. He’s a modern/Euro-type big. He can step out and shoot. Problem is, he needs to be a lot more physical down low. I think it will be hard for him to make an NBA living if he plays in the pros like he did in college. He’ll have to do some banging, and I think his block and rebound rate will need to improve.
4. What are the best and worst case player comparison scenarios for all the Suns draft picks?
Best: Markieff Morris. Worst: Chuck Hayes. I lean toward the latter. Warren’s going to play a long time in the NBA but I can’t see him being anything better than the fourth option in his career.
Best: Tony Parker. Worst: Luke Ridnour. I lean toward the latter. Ennis has to get stronger and develop a jumper that’s reliable.
Bogdanovic: Best: Carlos Delfino. Worst: Andy Rautins. I lean toward the former. He can play three positions, but which one will wind up suiting him when he gets to Phoenix?
Best: Tiago Splitter. Worst: Total flop. I lean toward the former. There really isn’t a player in the NBA like Brown right now, though. Given his frame and game, it will be fun to see how he develops
5. Between Warren and Ennis, which one will contribute the most right off the bat and who has the most upside?
Warren to contribute the most first, but Ennis with higher upside. Point guards in this league are very, very good right now. What will the league look like at the 1 in five years? I don’t think it will be as good, which could be good for Ennis, for if he grows into a reliable starter, he could become a top-10 PG in the NBA by 2020. But I also think he could bust out.
Big thanks go to Matt as he’s helped us illuminate these college players as they enter the NBA! We’ll talk to you next year!