Is this the guy?
The draft is tomorrow night and the Suns appear to be a little island in the middle of stormy seas of potential trades and movement. Occassionally, rumors touch the Suns' #13 pick, but so far its nothing more than water lapping up on their shore and fading back into the sea.
Just above the Suns, the Hornets, Blazers and Bucks are all (according to the press) interested in moving either up or down in exchange for either players or draft picks. Just below the Suns, the Rockets now have 3 of the next 5 picks (14, 16 and 18) in an attempt to parlay a seemingly endless stream of assets into an all-star of some sort.
Meanwhile, there's not a peep about the Suns. draftexpress.com and espn.com have updated their mock drafts over and over this week, each time either leaving the Suns' pick alone or simply plopping the next best player into it. Somehow, the Suns are keeping their intentions so close to the vest that even rival GMs aren't leaking info about them.
What DO we know? (or at least, what do we think we know?
Let's make a little bullet-point list
- The Suns need to upgrade talent all over the board. Not one position is set for the next several years
- Lance Blanks is saying they will draft the best player on their board, no matter what position the guy plays.
- The Suns are most devoid of talent at the Shooting Guard position. The top SG prospects are: Beal, Rivers, Waiters, Ross and Lamb
- SG Bradley Beal will be off the board within the first 4 picks
- SG Austin Rivers refused to visit the Suns, only visiting 5 teams this month (by contrast, John Henson visited about 17 teams). He is now projected to be off the board by #10.
- SG Terrence Ross, whose stock is still somewhere between 10-19, also refused to visit the Suns. No idea why he would do anything to limit his income opportunities, but it is what it is.
- I find it hard to believe the Suns would draft anyone who refused to visit for a private workout and interview, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
- SG Dion Waiters - who reportedly got a lottery promise from the Suns and cancelled all workouts immediately afterward - is still projected to be picked either 6th, 7th or 8th and won't get past 11th even in a worst-case scenario.
- That leaves SG Jeremy Lamb as the only talented SG who might be both available at 13 AND enamored with the idea of playing for the Phoenix Suns. A top-7 talent who can shoot and defend, he is dropping due to questions about his effort level and inability to be an alpha-dog.
- If Steve Nash leaves, the PG position becomes a bigger problem than SG as only Sebastian Telfair is under contract and even he knows he's not a starter on a competitive team
- PG Damian Lillard is the best PG prospect, but he is also projected to go no later than #11 and had not visited the Suns for a workout.
- PG Kendall Marshall, who's visited the Suns twice now, is dropping like a stone because teams fear he doesn't have the athleticism to defend NBA PGs, limiting his upside. He is now projected to go in the 18-25 range, unless the Suns pop him at 13.
- Given the info above - that Lamb and Marshall may be the only backcourt options for the Suns on draft night - the Suns are now expanding their search to the front line to find the best talent.
- After Beal goes top-5, if Waiters, Lillard, Rivers and Ross all get picked between 6-12 then SOME big man might drop further than expected
- To that end, the Suns brought in Cs Tyler Zeller and Meyers Leonard, PFs Perry Jones, John Henson and Arnett Moultrie for a big workout 10 days ago. Four of these guys are solidly in that 6-12 group with the wings, Lillard and Drummond, while Moultrie is a late-riser.
- Note that they did NOT bring in Terrence Jones, Jared Sullinger or Andre Drummond, even though one or two may be available at 13
- They also did not bring in late-riser small forward Moe Harkless.
- Again, I'll say it's unlikely the Suns would draft a player they didn't see in person in Phoenix (Waiters being the only exception, I guess).
- The Suns brought Arnett Moultrie back for a second look a week later, and now rumors are running around that the Suns would not mind drafting Moultrie if their other targets are gone. It's possible the Suns see Moultrie as a top-10 talent. Everyone else has him in the 14-20 range, though Detroit is reportedly thinking about popping him at #9.
- Last year, word leaked a few days before the draft that the Suns liked Markieff Morris and Iman Shumpert, both projected to go slightly lower than 13 on draft night (though still top-20). The leak turned out to be quite true, so there's no evidence the Suns are good at smokescreens.
- The Suns apparently are interested in buying another draft pick later in the draft, presumably to use on one of this month's Phoenix visitors: Marshall, Moultrie, SF Jeffrey Taylor, PF Andrew Nicholson or C Fab Melo.
- As far as we know, no other late-first guys were brought in for private workouts.
So that's what we know, or at least what we think we know.
What we DON'T know is what the heck is going to happen before and after the Suns' pick(s). Draft picks in play right now: 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18 and so on down the line.
The only teams not rumored to be shopping their picks at the moment: New Orleans at #1, Detroit at #9 and the Suns at #13. Small company.
Another thing we don't know is, if the Suns really do want to draft Moultrie, how will they give him playing time?
Would they let Lopez go, move Frye to backup C and let two youngsters man the PF position? Moultrie has been very clear that he does not like to play C.
Or, does that mean they would keep Lopez, and trade one of their bigs (Morris, Gortat, Frye) to make room for Moultrie?
And finally, what we don't know we don't know is what the Suns draft board really looks like. What are they thinking?