The Phoenix Suns may be close to the playoffs, but they are also getting closer to finding gems in the next draft despite no projected 2014 pick being higher than 17, depending on how Washington finishes the season.
General Manager Ryan McDonough, Assistant GM Pat Connelly, super scout Ronnie Lester and draft guru John Treloar have traveled all over the world in the past year, watching players in gyms as hot as Phoenix in the summer to as cold as Siberia at any time of year.
McDonough first saw Suns rookie Alex Len as a 16 year old playing in a stifling hot gym. He watches every player live, and stores video and notes of every one of them.
Greek rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo burst onto the NBA draftosphere last spring. He was ultimately taken at #17 overall, but has clearly shown the talent to have gone in the top 5 if the scouts would have just had more time to evaluate him.
Will 2014 have a similar player skyrocket onto the stage? And if so, which GM will snap him up?
According to sources, one such player being targeted by the Phoenix Suns is Boromir Barac of Bosnia, a cousin of Boris Barac who is considering making himself available for this year's draft.
"The kid is huge," an scout told me in confidence, of Boromir. "But he's just so smooth, athletic and naturally talented at the same time."
Very few NBA scouts have hit on this young man because until two weeks ago he was completely "off the grid", having not played organized basketball until he joined a local team last month and word spread like wildfire.
Former Suns center Marcin Gortat did not play basketball until he was 17, and was barely drafted by the NBA before being stashed overseas for a couple years and then joining Orlando. He was a steal.
Gregg Popovich reportedly thought Tony Parker, a little-known Frenchman, would never hold up in the NBA after watching him work out before the 2003 draft. Eventually, the Spurs took Parker at #28 overall. That was a steal.
And we all know the story of the Phoenix Suns spiriting little-known Goran Dragic to Phoenix before the draft, and ultimately being able to draft him at #45 overall. That was a steal.
Now, this super-strong, fleet-footed behemoth from Bosnia might be a guy who rises to the second half of the first round this June as scouts flock to Bosnia to watch him play. Reportedly, the kid is 7'0" tall, weighs 270 pounds, but is able to run like a deer while splitting logs with a mere hatchet.
He is head and shoulders above his current competition, which consists of ragtag players who were given permission from their parents to keep coming back despite getting bumps and bruises every time they play.
Boromir Baric, 18, always eschewed basketball for a promising Olympic-level career in pairs figure skating and ice dancing. Alas, Boromir kept unintentionally injuring his partners just before big competitions and, most recently, was disqualified from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi due to a mysterious head injury to his partner as they practiced the Iron Cross before traveling to Sochi.
Baric retired from international figure skating soon after, turning instead to a soft round leather ball in place of his razor-sharp blades.
Baric is fluent in six languages and is apparently a major Phoenix Suns fan. When an independent scout saw Baric last week, he was wearing an orange suit and had painted his skin to match. And that was just to run down the street to get milk for his mother.
Another scout reported seeing Baric in deep purple, covered head to toe in purple sweat bands.
Asked if he was sending a message, Baric said, "I like the heat. After years of figure skating and ice dancing, wearing gloves and hats and tight body suits, I really want to live the hot desert and wear cargo shorts for a change of pace."