I headed over to “The Stick”, home of the Phoenix Suns Draft Workouts.
The Suns had invited six players to show off their talents (the max allowed by NBA rules in a single day).
The purpose of the workout was to look at versatility and shooting from the guard/wing position. I believe three players truly stood out. DeAndre’ Bembry , Malcolm Brogdon and Wade Baldwin IV (pictured above).
Take a look at what stands out about these three players and what Suns GM Ryan McDonough had to say about them.
Wade Baldwin IV – Sophomore – G – 6’4 – 202lbs – Vanderbilt
Baldwin has excellent size for his position and says that his models his game off of Russell Westbrook.
His measurements are extremely similar if not better than Westbrook (6′ 2.4″ without shoes with a 6-foot-11¼ wingspan) and are terrific for a PG. His 10.45-second lane agility time also shows his athleticism.
When asked what he’s working on, he said, “everything”.
When asked what he’s improved, he said, “everything”.
When asked if there was something specific he was working on, he said, “everything, you don’t just work on one thing in basketball”.
So, his attitude also seemed very Russell Westbrook; short, direct and to the point.
Baldwin did take an elbow to the head from Isaiah Cousins during workouts, and was complaining of a headache. It’s possible that he was just out of it, and that’s why he was giving such short answers.
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Where he truly intends to stand out is with his intensity. His assist/turnover rate is less than 2/1, so the concern that his intensity on the court could cause him to play recklessly doesn’t seem unfounded.
Suns GM Ryan McDonough, in regards to Wade Baldwin IV being a lottery talent and what pushed him into that category:
“He had another good year this year for Vanderbilt, I think teams like his size and strength, he’s really long, he has close to a 7’0 wing span for a point guard. He’s athletic as well. He’s a guy who has shown well in workouts, he’s a bright kid, he interviews well. He’s one of the top point guards in this year’s draft.”
McD was asked if he see’s Baldwin as a pure PG or a combo guard?
“You know we value positional versatility, I think with his size, strength and length he could play either spot. I think at this point he is probably better on the ball, but he shot over 40% from 3-pt both years in college, so I think playing off the ball, as long as he can spot up and shoot, that’s a way to get on the court pretty early in your NBA career.”
Baldwin shot only 50% around the rim and McD was asked if he was concerned with his shooting around the rim?
“If you look at the Vanderbilt team, they have a couple seven footers down in the block so there is probably less space… So, I think that will be a point of emphasis for him, finishing, going to the basket, but with his size, length and athleticism I don’t think it will be a problem with more reps”
Malcolm Brogdon – Senior – G – 6’5 – 215lbs – Virginia
You won’t find a person in this draft that is more highly decorated than Brogdon. A short list of his accolades include; Unanimous First-Team All-American, Finalist for Naismith, Wooden and West awards.
Brogdon is also the first player EVER to win both ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Any time you are the first player ever to do something in the ACC, it’s impressive.
He ended his career as the 9th leading scorer in Virginia history, which is impressive considering he is widely known for his defense. As he put it, “I know defense wins games”
Brogdon was long but not lanky with a wingspan over 6’10. He was in excellent shape with a chiseled frame that looked immediately ready for the physicality of the NBA.
Brogdon referred to his defense as his “calling card”.
Suns GM Ryan McDonough acknowledged Brogan’s defense and how nice it is to see a person who is constantly locked in, “Brogdon’s defense is pretty impressive, he moves his feet well, he is really strong, he’s got good length, and most importantly he’s got the defensive mentality.”
“He doesn’t want to let his guy score. I mean, 1-on-1 he’s tough. He get’s up into the ball handler, uses his hands and length, he contests every shot. I think Virginia has been probably the best team in the country over the last few years (defensively), and he’s a key reason for that.”
He went on to say that he could envision Brogdon defending both guard positions and that he was strong enough to even defend the small forward position in small bursts.
Brogdon steadily improved his shooting over his career and finished his senior season shooting 50 percent on 2’s, 39 percent on 3’s and 90 percent from the free throw line.
He mentioned having worked on extending his range and working to improve his shooting, which seems genuine considering he was a 32% shooter from three and 80% from the Free Throw line his freshman season.
He also tripled his three-point attempts during his college career to 5.2 3PA per game. Brogdon said that he wanted to show teams that he was, “adjusting to line, got my release up a little higher so I have more arc on the ball. I’m shooting it better.”
I actually like the Suns taking Brogdon at pick 34 despite the logjam at guard because the Suns desperately need more perimeter defense. Further more, if they are truly shopping Knight and/or Bledsoe, Brogdon brings maturity that allows him to play immediately.
DeAndre’ Bembry – Junior – G/F – 6’6 – 223lbs – St. Joseph’s
Bembry is the epitome of the new normal in the NBA. He is a versatile player with great size for a guard, and good quickness for a forward.
There is only one problem, He’s not a good shooter.
Like many of the players working out, Bembry hopes to show off that he can ultimately fit into any system.
Bembry is talented, don’t get me wrong. He won Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and scored around 17 PPG in his sophomore and junior year.
McD referred talked about his diverse skillet, “Bembry is a unique player… He rebounds really well for a wing, he makes plays, he passes the ball well… he was one of the better guys out there.”
However, Bembry still has a lot of room to develop his shooting. Bembry shot 27% from the 3-point line his senior season. He’s a 63% career FT shooter, which does not correlate to quality shooting in the NBA where the 3-point is even deeper.
Bembry is working on it. At the
draft combine he impressed with his improved shot and the Suns GM also commented on the improvement, “The biggest question with him percentage wise is his shooting, and he shot the ball really well out here today, so it looks like something he has been working on”.
Bembry was charismatic in his interview and appeared to be having the most fun with the process. The first question revealed he is more proud of his “fro” than he is his beard, despite them growing for the same amount of time.
Ultimately, Bembry is going to try to bank on his versatility to show NBA teams he has value. He said that he believes he could play the 1, 2 or 3 and “grew up playing the 5”.
I don’t see him as a fit with the Suns and would be surprised if McD drafts him despite his solid workout. If he can continue to show that the NBA 3-point shot isn’t going to hold him back, he could be drafted in the first round, and that’s pretty good for a guy who still has a lot of work to do.
The Suns end each workout with “The Final 3 Minutes”. This is a simple workout where players run baseline to baseline, the full length of the court as many times as possible in 3 minutes. This is truly a test of the players stamina. The winner of the drill was far and away Isaiah Cousins, Guard from Oklahoma.
Quote of the workout: Dorian Finney-Smith (F – Florida) was asked if there is a certain player he seems himself being in the NBA today. He responded with, “Quincy Pondexter, or a bad Draymond Green“. This drew a pretty good laugh, and he clarified he meant a similar, but smaller version of the Warriors All-Star.