June 26th seemed to take an eternity to arrive, yet it passed in the span of a 6 pack of beer and a man tear or two for Isaiah Austin. The day after has arrived and the smoke is beginning to clear. What are your Phoenix Suns left with and what does it mean heading into July?
The day after the draft has all the focus set on the likes of Phoenix draftees TJ Warren and Tyler Ennis. By now you know the breakdowns and attributes of these players (if you don't, get on it!) so this won't be a player breakdown article. Besides, our very own Sean Sullivan and Dave King have you covered there.
With so many mixed opinions on last night's draft, I urge fans to look at the big picture. The Suns really walked away last night with four 1st round picks and no I'm not referring to Brown or Bogdan. Look further in house and you'll find Archie Goodwin and Alex Len, two guys the Suns took in the 1st round last year but should be viewed as rookies again.
Neither Archie nor Alex particularly splashed during their rookie campaigns. Len's foot injury and Goodwin's lack of shot and overall rawness, saw neither take on a significant role on a playoff-hopeful Suns team.
What should fans be looking forward to heading into July?
Summer League The Big Stage?
Summer League is never a tell-all measurement, but it does provide fans a chance to see how this "core of four" will mesh and provide a preview heading into training camp.
4 out of the 5 positions seemed to be locked in with:
PG: Ennis / SG: Goodwin / SF: Warren / PF (TBD) / Center: Len
Personally, I feel that Ennis will be the determining factor of how this group of four plays together. Goodwin, Warren and Len are similar in the fact that all three can be effective without having the ball in their hands. With suspect jumpers, Archie and Warren make a majority of their contributions moving off ball. This is where Ennis could and should be the motor that drives this core both on the break and in halfcourt sets.
Ennis has a passable enough shot (35% from three) that playing him with two slashing wings will work. He's a capable passer in pick and roll, but he also excels at driving in and dishing to slashers and spot-up guys on the three point line. In transition, he could be dynamite pushing the ball up the floor to Archie and TJ running the wings. Archie has been in the gym all Summer long from the looks of it. If his jumper has progressed to anywhere near the level of his work ethic, this wing duo could be even more deadly paired with Ennis.
In the half court sets, pick and roll and pick and pop situations with Ennis and Len could develop nicely. Coming into last season, Len was touted as having a soft touch on his mid range jumper. We saw this occasionally in his limited minutes, but not enough to instill huge confidence in it. Dragic did go on record though of saying that Len shoots the ball much better than people think.
We know that Len sets a very effective screen. Ennis excelled in pick and roll situations at Syracuse so the playbook is wide open for this QB/WR combo. This is a great way for Ennis to succeed given he's not an elite athlete and his finishing percentage around the basket leaves something to be desired. His passable jumper should make this duo something to watch in the halfcourt. Ennis looks to also have a solid floater which will need to be honed in on with his below-the-rim style of play.
So many questions will be answered in the coming weeks. Did Archie develop a Nash-like jumper? Did Len bulk up and diversify his offense? Will Warren's signature floater and unorthodox scoring transfer to the NBA? Can Ennis be that pure point that we always wanted Kendall Marshall to be? Will these four guys mesh and be a part of the next great Suns core?
I'm hoping these four will be joined by some combination of Tucker, the Morris twins, Plumlee and Alec Brown. It should be another competitive Summer circuit for your Phoenix Suns and these are just a few key things to watch when the games start on the 12th.