NBA Draft 2012: The construction of the Phoenix Suns’ draft board


PHOENIX — There’s no set formula and no special front office potion to the 2012 NBA Draft. It’ll all come down to preference, fit and, ultimately, research to determine what player the Phoenix Suns, and those picking ahead of them, decide to select this Thursday.

“I think of it like if you think of a pie chart,” Suns general manager Lance Blanks said on Monday. “There’s a percentage of your evaluation — every team I’m sure is different — that is just based on a season and how a guy might have played. Some teams may not need the other data or information. A percentage may go on Chicago (draft combine), the postseason, interviews, the actual workout in your city.”

For Phoenix, it’s all about maintaining focus on the Suns’ own draft board — one that Blanks said is currently a jumble — and not worrying too much about what other teams are doing. After Anthony Davis goes No. 1, it’ll be like a mad scramble for whatever falls out of the piñata that is this insanely eclectic draft class.

The Suns have their entire staff in town, including analytics folk, scouts and management. Over the next 72 hours, they’ll piece together a draft board that will answer who they’ll select at No. 13 overall. But Blanks, who met with the media on Monday afternoon, didn’t take any draft-day moves out of the realm of possibility, and that includes — don’t kill the messenger — Phoenix not picking at 13.

If there are only 12 players that the Suns collectively believe fit in Phoenix and all are off the board, then a sell is possible.

“I’m just covering myself just because there are so many things out there in terms of opportunity,” Blanks said. “We’re picking 13th, and we believe there will be at least 13 guys, you know, available. Where I sit today and if the draft happened today — and this is me working in a vacuum — I think we have a player there.”

Considering the depth and number of options from the one to five positions, trading the pick is probably more than unlikely. If Phoenix makes a move, the cards are more likely to fall with the Suns adding another pick in the draft.

“I will tell you, youth is something that’s extremely important for us right now, given where things are,” Blanks said. “By no stretch will we shun away from adding another pick, but it’s not a function of who we brought in. We just brought in guys who might make sense, or the best sense for our organization.”

Of course, nothing is guaranteed this year and little is set in stone. Much depends on what transpires during the first 12 picks, something that Blanks said his team has “a loose sense of … but after probably seven, eight, nine picks, it gets fuzzy.

“There’s a guy that you probably can’t see who slips in,” he added, “and there’s a guy you don’t know of who falls off — or a team ultimately passes on him, and then that just throws the whole thing in a tailspin, which is why you really need to know the talent pool and what makes sense for your team.

“There have been lots of projections,” he added. “We’re not in the business to try to figure out exactly where a guy may go. Our thing is finding, in this case, 13 guys that make sense for our roster.”

How has the internet changed the research process of the draft?

Have you seen that Bing commercial about “information overload?”  Well, the growth of the Internet has been equally unkind to your waning attention span as it has been to NBA front offices.

Blanks said the amount of information available about players can be a sometimes dangerous, sometimes helpful thing when evaluating NBA draft prospects.

“When it first started, you didn’t have quite the amount of information that you had today with guys tweeting, representatives of theirs sharing information, the Internet,” he said. “It’s a different world in that regard from an information standpoint.”

One of the better-known examples of this draft was the supposed anxiety problems of forward Royce White. Across the internet, that buzz surrounding White has become cancerous, overshadowing his abilities as a basketball player.

Generally speaking, NBA teams will make educated decisions on their picks. In the case of White, at some point his value as a basketball player and his personality outside of one issue should come into play.

“I think part of this process is knowing what to toss out and what to accept as reality,” Blanks said. “We cross-reference our information if we feel confident in the sources that we have with the information. Just because it’s said, we don’t take it for face value. I know just from being on this side of it so often, there are things out there that couldn’t be further from the truth, and sometimes it is very accurate.”

So who will Phoenix select?

To no surprise, Blanks didn’t divulge anything about which players Phoenix is eying nor what positions the Suns will target. That being said, it appears the Suns will take the best available if they think that player will fit in their culture.

And that could be regardless of their current roster makeup and of their free agent situation that could leave them barren of guards.

“Incidentally we had players in here at every position,” Blanks said of the Suns’ workouts. “It’s not a situation where because we think guys are going to be gone at that position we’re going to go and definitely draft a five or a one. Maybe you take the best player. Maybe you go away from the point guard spot for whatever reason and you go to the three. And we have some very good threes here already.

“You want to have talented players and guys that can make it in this league and contribute to this roster,” Blanks added. “That’s better than going away from a position where you already have the depth or have an opportunity through free agency, and you end up with a player who can’t play in the league or he’s just not good enough.”

And 1

Suns forward Grant Hill will join First Lady Michelle Obama and the presidential delegation at the 2012 Olympics in London. Hill, a 1996 gold medalist, will join other past American Olympians for the Opening Ceremony as they meet with current US athletes while spreading the First Lady’s push to keep children active and healthy.

Also on the delegation is Brandi Chastain of the USA women’s soccer team, gymnist Dominique Dawes, paralympic javelin, discus and shot putter Gabriel Diaz de Leon, and swimmer Summer Sanders.