Phoenix Suns: Draft Workouts Day 12 Recap

Jun. 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; 2015 NBA Draft prospect Michael Qualls talks to the media at his Phoenix Suns draft workout. Mandatory Credit: Gerald Bourguet-Valley of the Suns
Jun. 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; 2015 NBA Draft prospect Michael Qualls talks to the media at his Phoenix Suns draft workout. Mandatory Credit: Gerald Bourguet-Valley of the Suns /

The final day of Phoenix Suns draft workouts continued the trend of hosting second round targets, with Arkansas’ Michael Qualls, international prospect Mohammadou Jaiteh and Stanford’s Chasson Randle being the biggest names.

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As the last scheduled public pre-draft workout, it is a bit curious that first round options like Myles Turner and Cameron Payne never made their way to US Airways Center. Oklahoma’s Tashawn Thomas, Boise State’s Derrick Marks and Iowa State’s Bryce Dejean-Jones rounded out the group of six for Day 12.

Jaiteh, a 6’11” center from France who might have the coolest name in the entire 2015 NBA Draft, is No. 41 on ESPN’s Chad Ford’s Big Board, which means it’s even money whether he’ll still be available when the Suns pick at No. 44.

“It’s becoming a global game,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. “That percentage actually is interesting if there are two or three [international prospects] who end up going in the top 10, I think that’s pretty indicative of where the league is as a whole.”

With a 7’3″ wing span and a 9’3″ standing reach, Jaiteh has the NBA body to bolster a Suns frontcourt that could seriously use some depth. Jaiteh impressed during Phoenix’s infamous three-minute run, keeping up with the quicker guards the whole way.

McDonough also said Jaiteh has slimmed down and moves a lot better than when he first saw him two years ago as an 18-year-old. Though the Frenchman is not particularly athletic and plays below the rim, he has a serviceable midrange jumper and would provide rebounding and depth in the frontcourt.

Also joining the workout was Michael Qualls, a 6’5″ shooting guard from Arkansas whose fiery play during the NCAA Tournament was a huge boost for the Razorbacks. Qualls was arguably his team’s best player in the tourney (yes, even better than Bobby Portis), putting up 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting against Wofford before slapping up 27 points and 10 rebounds in Arkansas’ loss to North Carolina in the next round.

Qualls sat out for the latter part of his Suns workout after taking what he called a “little spill,” but he believes his strong tournament showing was not a fluke and has been trying to prove his worth in draft workouts now that he’s recovered from a hip injury at the NBA Draft Combine.

“Consistency and my long range three-ball,” Qualls answered when asked what he’s trying to prove to NBA teams. “But I shot the ball well so I feel like the stuff that I bring could really help a team, help a franchise.”

Qualls is an incredibly athletic wing who can score from almost anywhere on the court, which might be why he cited Gerald Green as a possible NBA counterpart — although Qualls did mention he’s a bit more defensive-minded than the Suns’ gunslinger. He mentioned that one of the player development coaches was telling him about how he helped Green improve his shot and said he could see a similar outcome for himself.

“It’s a matter of repetition, especially at this level,” he said.

Phoenix Suns
Jun. 10, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; 2015 NBA Draft prospect Chasson Randle talks to the media at his Phoenix Suns draft workout. Mandatory Credit: Gerald Bourguet-Valley of the Suns /

Chasson Randle, a 6’2″ shooting guard from Stanford, rounded out the list of prospects who spoke to the media Thursday. An explosive leaper who gets to the line and can knock down the three-ball, Randle may have a hard time cracking the second round because he’s so undersized for his position.

But Randle believes he’s prepared to play the point guard position at the next level, which would give him an added layer of versatility. Either way, he’s not deterred by — or even paying attention to — where he’s projected to go on draft day.

“I’m living the dream, you know what I mean?” he said. “To be able to travel and work out for all these teams, you dream about this as a kid so I’m enjoying it.”

Tashawn Thomas (a 6’8″ power forward from Oklahoma who is a solid defender and shot-blocker but a tad undersized for his position), Derrick Marks (a 6’3″ shooting guard from Boise State who is an excellent shooter but an underwhelming defender) and Bryce Dejean-Jones (a 6’5″ shooting guard from Iowa State who is not on Ford’s Big Board) rounded out the group of Day 12 prospects.

Phoenix Suns
Jun. 10, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough talks to the media at his Phoenix Suns draft workout. Mandatory Credit: Gerald Bourguet-Valley of the Suns /

So where do the Suns go from here as they await draft day on Jun. 25?

McDonough says the team will spend the next two weeks re-evaluating their list of prospects, holding meetings with their scouts, looking at film and creating their own mock draft to figure out who might be available at No. 13 and No. 44. After that, they’ll conduct a second round of interviews with the candidates they like, as well as background interviews with their coaches.

For those wondering if the Suns have done their due diligence leading up to the draft without Turner or Payne coming in, McDonough said the team is comfortable with the process so far.

“Worst-case scenario, sometimes if you can’t get a guy in and you really wanted to spend some time with him and talk to him, you can do it over the phone or by Skype or what-have-you, so we kind of use that as a last resort,” he said. “But we’re comfortable with where we are. We’ve had between 50-100 players in so far so the process has been very thorough.”

After all, the Suns got a good look at plenty of players at the 2015 NBA Draft Combine. Each team is allotted 18 interview slots at the combine and McDonough said the Suns filled up all 18. By getting the bigger names to workout in Phoenix early in the process, McDonough also believes they got a better look at the prospects while they were still fresh.

“It’s a big year for us in free agency as well, so we want to respect the draft process and have a thorough process but we also want to spend the proper amount of time preparing for free agency, working on any potential trades,” he said. “There’s not a big window between the draft on Jun. 25 and when free agency starts on Jul. 1, so we’re preparing for both simultaneously and I feel like we’ll be prepared when the draft and free agency come around.”

Next: Christian Wood: Phoenix Suns 2015 Draft Profile

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