The Phoenix Suns had some tough decisions to make in the 2013 NBA Draft. Three top prospects, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, and Alex Len, whom all had a good chance of being drafted before the Suns picked fifth overall, were all unexpectedly available when it was time for the Suns to make their first selection.
Noel, who was long rumored to be the first pick taken in the NBA draft, was hardly even mentioned as a serious consideration for the Suns...he was too far out of their reach.
Ben McLemore, who was touted by many as the preeminent wing of the draft was rumored to be one of Phoenix's favorites, was also there for the taking.
However, when the Suns made their pick, it was Alex Len, The 7'1" sophomore center from Maryland who unexpectedly donned the orange draft cap.
But the surprises weren't over yet. Late in the first round, the Suns traded up one spot to draft Archie Goodwin, another unexpected selection by many accounts, with players like Jamaal Franklin, Allen Crabbe, and Ricky Ledo still available.
Finally, the Suns capped off their draft late in the second round by taking Alex Oriakhi with the 57th pick...Once again foregoing more popular names like C.J. Leslie, Myck Kabongo, and Kenny Kadji to name a few.
Many fans and and experts alike seemed shoocked initially, but now that everyone has had a chance to digest what transpired, what is everyone else saying about the Suns draft?
Here is a look around the web:
Let's begin with one of the most popular experts, Chad Ford of ESPN. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say:
This year, Suns president Lon Babby hired one of the best scouts in the business, Ryan McDonough, as his new general manager. But the first draft pick of the McDonough era, in some ways, looked a lot like the draft picks the Suns have been making.
Ford made mention of Len's upside but also the Suns passing on Noel and McLemore to get him. He seems to like the Archie Goodwin pick however, and was rather neutral toward Alex Oriakhi.
Overall Grade: B-
Next up we have Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
The Suns got a center of the future in Alex Len, whose presence could make the coveted Marcin Gortat expendable. I thought Archie Goodwin at No. 29 was a reach; Goodwin has not shown me he can be an NBA three-point shooter and is on the small side for a 2-guard. Still, a lot of teams had him slotted in the lottery during the college season, when he struggled more than people expected.
Overall Grade: B-
Here's what Adi Joseph of USA Today had to say:
The Suns need a home run, particularly now with new management. They're counting on Len to become an elite defender and to develop his soft touch. Goodwin wasn't a reach but also wasn't the best shooting guard on the board. He could get a chance to start at a position of need. Oriakhi probably won't make the team but is tough and physical. The draft is underwhelming, but none of the picks were bad.
Overall Grade: B-
So far so good right?
Well, then there's Matt Moore of CBS Sports:
I'm probably being too harsh on him (Len). But I look at his pick and roll, I look at his strength at the basket, and I look at his upside to what he can possibly be, and I don't see a dominant player.
Moore was more complimentary of the other two selections, but he didn't offer an overall grade. Instead, he broke them up into the three picks:
Len = F, Goodwin = B+, Oriakhi = B+
Taking all of these grades into account, the Suns would probably average an overall grade of C+
Alex Len was a top prospect in his own right who was also mentioned as a possible first pick. But most people assumed the Suns' first priority was a marquee shooting guard...So when the Suns passed up on McLemore as well as Noel who was commonly thought of as the top prospect in the entire draft, it was more than a little shocking to many experts and fans alike, to say the least.
Conversely, the selection of Goodwin was viewed as a fairly big positive for the Suns, and Oriakhi...well, for a 57th pick it would be difficult to complain.
Regardless of what anyone thinks at this point, there is simply no way to accurately assess the draft yet. It will be at least a couple of seasons before we can look back at this draft and make that determination. The bottom line is that we just have to hope that the Suns did their homework and drafted the players that they saw as the best fit going forward.
Ultimately, only time will tell.