On the day that Jason Richardson was traded to the Orlando Magic, the Suns' perennial top need shifted from Center to Shooting Guard. That day was about 30 months ago. 2.5 NBA seasons ago. A long time.
For years in the mid-2000s, the Suns' only weakness was at the pivot position. The Suns regularly were outrebounded, and tended to lose big games due, in part, to lack of talent in the pivot.
In December of 2010, new Suns President of Basketball Operations made the first bold move of his tenure when he traded SG Jason Richardson, SF Hedo Turkoglu and PF Earl Clark to Orlando for C Marcin Gortat, SG Vince Carter and SG Mikael Pietrus.
With Carter and Pietrus disappointing their Suns stints and set to become free agents the next summer while young-ish Marcin Gortat was under contract for three more seasons, the Suns effectively moved their "biggest hole" from center to shooting guard.
That spring, then head coach Alvin Gentry said the Suns biggest need in the draft and free agency was at shooting guard. Alvin Gentry, spring 2011: "We've got to be little better from the standpoint of being able to have a go-to guy where we don't count on Steve (Nash) to create every play at the end of the game and to make every shot in situations like that."
But the Suns needed size at the power forward position too, and they drafted Markieff Morris when there wasn't a better shooting guard available at the 13th spot.
Last spring, it was all about drafting one of the four best shooting guard prospects in the 2012 draft. But when all four were gone by the 12th pick, the Suns shifted focus to Steve Nash's potential replacement.
Nearly two and a half years after trading Richardson, the Suns still need a shooting guard.
Mock drafts are shifting on a daily basis, but it does look like the Suns could finally fill that position with either Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo.
Unfortunately, there are needs at a lot more than one position these days. The Suns also need a center of the future (Gortat is a free agent in a year), a power forward of the future (Morris has not shown he is starting quality for a good team) and small forward of the future (SuperCool's spot, along with another Morris), and even have a need at point guard (Marshall's future is questionable at this time).
Yet the Suns should not be swayed by offers to fill multiple positions at once by trading down from 5th overall.
The Suns need to draft the best possible player at 5th overall with one of the following, in THIS order:
- Nerlens Noel
- Victor Oladipo
- Ben McLemore
- Alex Len
- Otto Porter
That's it. That should be the Suns' big board for 5th position. Anthony Bennett would be 6th on that list, but he is not more talented than Otto Porter so he should not be considered.
All the Suns need is a top-5 list for that first pick. The Suns may have those five in a different order, and that's their prerogative. But it should still be THOSE FIVE GUYS.
If the Suns like up to 8 guys, which has been hinted by McDonough and later re-iterated by Robert Sarver, then trade for another top-10 pick to take a second player from that top-8 too. But don't trade down, and don't leave this draft without one of those 5 guys in your back pocket.
Please, Suns. Don't over think that first selection.