Phoenix Suns draft mantra still prefer potential over NBA readiness, quality over quantity

USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are still playing the long game, drafting for long-term potential two or three years down the road. No rookie is expected to play a big role on the 2015-16 Suns.

While every team will take the best player available, the definition of "best player available" (BPA) differs from team to team.

For the Phoenix Suns, the BPA is the player with the highest upside, per Suns GM Ryan McDonough today.

Future > Now

"What we don't want to do and will never do,"  McFreshTake said, "is just draft a guy who is older and maybe more ready over a guy we think is going to have a better career."

Case in point, two of the players who visited today were 23 year old Cleanthony Early and 19 year old Tyler Ennis. You might read into McStunna's quote that he would only take the youngest guys. And last year, he did take two of the draft's youngest players in 18 year old Archie Goodwin and 19 year old Alex Len.

But that's not exactly what he meant. McDonough was using the simplicity of age as a delineating factor for a simple crew (us) to follow.

If McD's team thinks Cleanthony Early (23) or Adreian Payne (23) has a higher ceiling than Tyler Ennis (19), then they will take the older player. The Suns just want the player with the brightest future.

"The draft is the best way to get guys who are going to be starters or stars," he continued. "And get them on a rookie contract, rather than just take the low hanging fruit and sign a guy who we think might help us win a few more games but has a lower ceiling."

McCandid tells it like it is, folks.

Low expectations for 2014-15

The Suns are not looking for a regular rotation player in 2014-15 from this rookie class. They are not going to draft a guy just because he fills an immediate need. Sure, if the guy can play right now that's a bonus. But it's not an expectation.

"It's possible," Hornacek said of the potential of a rotation player out of this draft. "But you know we have pretty good depth on our team. If nothing happens, I always assume we have the same team back. These guys will really, even the 14th pick, will have to battle to get any minutes."

Last year, rookies Alex Len and Archie Goodwin struggled to get playing time. Len's issue was health for most of the year, but Archie Goodwin could have played three games a day without getting winded. Yet, the Suns signed Leandro Barbosa off the street to take Archie's playing time when Hornacek wanted predictability from the backup two-guard spot.

No way they take three

With three picks, the Suns can do any number of different things. McDonough has talked about not wanting three rookies added to Archie Goodwin and Alex Len.

"The least likely thing is we keep all three of our first round picks," he said. "And draft three rookies and bring three rookies to the Suns next year. You guys know our team situation. We'd rather get fewer good players, or veterans or spread our picks out [by trading a first round pick for a future pick]."

But what if there's not a good scenario to trade out? What if the only players you're getting offered are long-term contracts or underachieving guys you don't like? What if all the other teams undervalue your own players too much to make a fair deal?

It's been a year now. McDonough had no affiliation to the old roster and traded away three of the top four players on the team for future assets without blinking an eye. We all lauded him for it.

His job this year is a lot tougher, whether he admits it or not. This year, he runs the risk of overvaluing his incumbent players. This year, he might get frustrated when other GMs doubt the abilities of Gerald Green or the Morris brothers after they had such good years.

The Suns could still just take all three picks and roll into July with a crowded roster. Remember the Suns had 17 players on guaranteed contracts as late as ONE WEEK before the first regular season game. Rookie head coach Jeff Hornacek was playing 14 guys a night all preseason.

It's better to draft the best players on the board than give away picks in bad deals.

But then again, we've got Ryan McMiracle at the helm.

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