So training camp is upon us, reminding us of just how bad our team will be this year. So I figure it's time to start looking forward to what will undoubtedly be the highlight of the season... The 2014 draft!
Obviously a lot can and will change between now and then. Players development, trades, and draft position will all play major roles and none of those are forseeable variables at present. However, barring McMiracle swinging a trade for Kevin Love or somehow convincing Pat Riley that mini-LeBron is actually better than RegularSize-LeBron, I'm assuming SF and PF will still be our biggest holes.
And fortunately we already have a decent idea of who will be available at the draft so these are my top 5 picks for the Phoenix Suns and if nothing else, players worth keeping an eye on as we root for our team to finish at the top of the standings... For the draft lottery, I mean. Keep in mind, some prospects are exposed in college while others unexpectedly rise. This was mostly written to give you an idea of who to keep an eye on as the college season progresses. These are not the top 5 projected prospects overall, just players I feel the Suns could/should be targeting
#5) Dante Exum PG/SG 6'6 Australia
Bleacher Report says he's a scoring PG with the size of Penny Hardaway and the Athleticism of Russel Westbrook. While comparisons like this are usually extreme, he does possess a rare combination of size and skill. In the NBA, with his size, my guess is he'll be a SG with great ball handling skills. I haven't heard much about his shooting ability which leads me to believe its neither a strength nor weakness. Currently the Suns have two PGs and really don't need to be drafting a combo guard. But the talent is there, in any other draft he's probably heavily considered with the number one overall pick.
#4) Aaron Gordon SF/PF 6'9 Arizona
Aaron is an explosive athlete drawing many comparisons to Blake Griffin. If he gets near the rim, he will throw it down. If we still had Nash in his prime this would be the perfect fit. Questions surround his ability to create for himself and his effectiveness when he's not posturizing opponents. Still at a position of need, Gordon's athleticism would be a great addition to a team trying to run and gun
#3) Jabari Parker SF 6'8 Duke
Jabari looks the part of the prototypical NBA SF All Star. He has the size and strong upper body to allow him to be effective at the NBA level. He also posseses a high Bball IQ and offensive polish that feels appropriate for a prospect from Duke. He however, is not an elite athlete like Wiggins. There seem to be very few concerns that it would affect his effectiveness at the NBA level. He seems to be an all around good SF with no major weaknesses. He draws comparisons to Paul Pierce.
#2) Julius Randle PF 6'9 250lbs Kentucky
Randle is an absolute beast inside. While Wiggins is known as the best prospect in the draft, many consider Randle to be the biggest mismatch. He has the power game to punish opponents down low, but is quick enough to face up and take his defender off the dribble. Combine that with his decent touch from mid range and you've got a nightmare to defend. Listed at 6'9 he should be tall enough at the next level, but he's dangerously close to "tweener" size and Randle is no SF in the NBA. His official measurements could be something to watch for come draft time. You don't pass on a talent like Wiggins, but Randle is exactly the type of player I've been dreaming the Suns could pick up. Almost feels like a fusion of Charles Barkley with Amare Stoudemire, perhaps a foreshadowing of what's to come? Plus if Len's outside jumper is good like it's been advertised those two would compliment each other beautifully in the front court for years to come. Maybe a little McMiracle forsight when he passed on Noel?
#1) Andrew Wiggins SF 6'8 (7'0 Wingspan) Kansas
Wiggins is the prize of the draft. He's a freak athlete that comes around very rarely. Well, once a decade apparently (LeBron, Michael) He has the body to dominate today at the next level. His athleticism alone makes him a sure fire 1st rounder, but this kid also has skill. He can shoot, he can dribble, and he can jump. He creates separation to get his shot off from anywhere on the court. But it's not just that. The kid has his head on straight. Accounts from people who have interviewed him say he's intelligent, well mannered, and incredibly humble. Surprising traits from someone so young with so much hype and very good news for a franchise looking to draft their franchise player. No doubt every single game he plays in college will be scrutinized ad naseum. How he holds up under that pressure will be something to watch.