Expectations are a line we create in our heads for something with the hope that they are exceeded and the fear that they will not be met. They exist in all walks of life. In the 2013-2014 NBA Season the Phoenix Suns were not supposed to win more than 21 games total. Then they went out and did that on January 15th.
Odds and expectations are very different.
With the 2014 NBA Draft coming up in the distance there like a mirage that was once all the hopes and dreams for a starving fan base in the desert is now just another mile marker on the path to where the team is going. It does not have the pazazz as it did less than six months ago. The prospects are all there. From Andrew Wiggins to Jabari Parker to Dante Exum, they are all waiting there, but the Suns are there to meet them with open arms.
So, full disclosure here, the Phoenix Suns will be drafting 14th, 3rd, 2nd, or 1st in the 2014 NBA Draft.
The odds for each pick are:
0.5% for No. 1
0.6% for No. 2
0.7% for No.3
98.2% for No. 14
In the nine year history of the No. 14 Overall Pick it has never moved into the Top 3 once. It has finished where it started every year. In fact the highest risers in the history of the lottery were the Cleveland Cavaliers (via the Los Angeles Clippers) in 2011 with the 8th best odds, the Chicago Bulls in 2008 with the 9th worst odds, and the Orlando Magic in 1993 with the 11th worst odds.
Moving up to potentially drape Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Parker, or Exum in purple and orange is a desirable outcome, just not a realistic one.
Instead the talent pool looks more like Rashad McCants, Ronnie Brewer, Al Thornton, Anthony Randolph, former Sun Earl Clark, Patrick Patterson, current Sun Marcus Morris, John Henson, and Shabazz Muhammad. That group has an average PER of 13.8 over their individual careers with Henson (18.0) being the leader so far and Clark (10.3) holding up the bottom.
The league average for PER was 13.46 this past season, therefore the 14th pick generally wields a league average player.
Expectations are to win the lottery and or net an above average to great player with any pick. However the odds are that a good player will be available and will spend less than four years with the team that drafts them. In the current construction of the NBA Draft with 14 Lottery Picks the longest any player has lasted with the team that drafted them was 3.5 years, two of them are out of the league, and every one of them have played for more than one team, excluding the last two drafts.
Is this the year the odds play in the favor of the Suns? That will be determined on May 20th, but for now expectations should be tempered to the point of at least getting a league average player for the next 2-4 years.
The last two drafts saw the No. 14 Overall Pick traded either on draft night or the night before. That could be a three-peat this year with the mentality and aggressive nature of Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. With three mid-value picks like the team has a trade is not out of the cards to move.
With the way things are currently constructed the Suns could use a traditional power forward to eventually take over those duties and more options on the perimeter for both shooting and defending.
Some prospects to keep an eye on include Michigan State Power Forward Adreian Payne (No. 12 Overall on NDI Rankings), Syracuse combo forward Jerami Grant (No. 15), and Creighton combo forward Doug McDermott (No. 16). Other than that the forward position is very light after you get past the first 5-7 picks. Payne can play inside and out with more traditional size at 6-10 and very good overall athleticism. He fits the mold as a potential two-way forward that can stretch the floor with his shooting, score in the paint, and defend NBA caliber forwards.
Both Grant and McDermott are combo forwards that will have limitations playing the three or the four at the next level.
On the wing the options are UCLA combo guard Zach LaVine (No. 14), Kentucky G/F James Young (No. 17), and Clemson wing K.J. McDaniels (No. 20). Others are sure to rise while some of these prospects could fall. Young has a hard time defending the fifth best player on the court in a college game so he will be drafted more for his offensive versatility. McDaniels will be an interesting option with his game resembling what would happen if you could merge P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green into one player. He is an elite athlete that defends at a very high level, has the ability to hit the three-point shot well, and maximizes his talent every game.
Last year the 14th and 21st picks were combined to move up to obtain the 9th Overall Pick. Is it worth trading a league average player and another asset to draft five spots higher?
The Suns can do that. They can also hold strong and potentially add one of these six names mentioned above with the No. 14 Overall Pick. There are so many options and the team has put themselves in an enviable position of having the assets and no need to make a drastic move in either direction.
Next up: A review of the No. 18 Overall Pick