The 2014 NBA Draft has just ended, and the Suns ended up with four new players, some looking to make an instant impact, while others will hope to crack the roster somewhere down the line. Much was made of the Suns bevvy of first round picks, but lets not forget, they have the chance to have three first rounders again next year. With that in mind, here is a look at some potential draft targets for next year.
Before we start, I’ll preface this list by saying that I’m taking the most optomistic approach posible when looking at the 2015 NBA Draft. That is to say, in this scenario, the Suns will get the Lakers’ pick at number 6 (its top-5 protected), the Timberwolves pick at number 13 (it’s top 12 protected), and their own pick will be in the late twenties because I’m assuming they will improve on their record from this past year. Also, I’m assuming that TJ Warren and Tyler Ennis have solid rookie years, Alex Len and Archie Goodwin both take another step forward, and the Suns retain Channing Frye, PJ Tucker, and Eric Bledsoe. I know that’s a lot of assumptions, but it doesn’t hurt to take an early look at who could be available for Hornacek and crew to draft in 2015.
Stanley Johnson- Arizona commit Stanley Johnson is a 6’ 7" SF with long arms and elite strength and quickness for a player his size and age. In high school, his main source of offense was beating lesser athletes to the rim and finishing, but he has shown a capable jumpshot. His turnover rate has been high, but that may be due to being the main source of offense for his squad. His defensive potential in the NBA is off the charts from what we’ve seen so far, due to his guard-like quickness but legitimate SF size. It remains to be seen whether he can raise his BBIQ to NBA standards, but his athleticism should make him a fairly high pick in 2015.
Karl Towns- In 2014, I thought the Suns could have used a PF, someone who could bang inside and provide some rebounding and defense. Luckily, three of the likely top picks in 2015 will be athletic PFs. Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander, and Karl Towns all have the size to play center in the NBA, but also the athleticism to play alongside a Miles Plumlee or Alex Len as a 4. As it stands now, Karl Towns is the most likely to fall to the Suns at 6, and he would be a great pick up. A strong 7 footer with the ability to drive from the wing, he is extremely athletic for his size. He has also showcased a nice form on his jumpshot for how young and big he is, an important attribute for somebody who wants to play alongside a true 5 in the NBA.
Kristaps Porzingis- Another young 7 footer, Porzingis has already been playing professional basketball in Europe for four years. Again, he is extremely athletic for his size (a common theme in the draft as prospects get bigger and more athletic), and also shoots the 3 ball at a 30% clip. He covers a lot of ground with very long strides, making him a good fit in the Suns’ uptempo offense. Also, his frame looks like it could hold more weight, which would allow him to hold his ground inside in the NBA. Porzingis is the rare prospect who combines professional European experience with the raw upside of an 18 year-old in the same package, and the Suns would be wise to pick him up at number 6.
Marc Garcia- Marc Garcia is a young 6’ 6" guard from Spain who is an excellent shooter from all over the court. He is a more traditional shooting guard whose range should complement either Dragic or Bledsoe very nicely. He can also create his own shot off the dribble and score at the rim. His frame is very slight at the moment, but should fill out over time.
Rondae-Hollis Jefferson- The first player on this list who actually has college basketball experience, Jefferson showcased his athleticism and defensive potential in his freshman year at Arizona. He has a great motor to go along with a good size for the SF position at the NBA level, including a 7’ wingspan. As of now he is very limited in his offensive game, as he is not the strongest ball-handler and has a very inconsistent jump shot. At the next level, he should be able to develop into a very strong defender on the wing if nothing more.
Caris LaVert- LaVert is a guy who I belive will see his draft stock skyrocket as this college basketball season progresses. He is a 6’ 5" combo guard with very long arms and good quickness, and he also shot over 40% from three at Michigan this past season on more than an attempt per game. LaVert looks to be an intelligent, polished guard who should have success at the NBA level. The one knock on LaVert is that he is very skinny, but that is something that will improve over time on an NBA workout plan. The Suns have some very talented guards, but they can’t afford not to give LaVert a look in 2015.
Late 20’s Pick
Frank Kaminsky- Frank the Tank and the Wisconsin Buzzcuts (name taken from Mark Titus’ book, "Don’t Put Me In, Coach," it’s hilarious, you should read it) became a favorite of mine early on in this past college basketball season. Kaminsky proved that he has a very efficient offensive game, scoring from inside and out. He doesn’t have the upside or athleticism of a lot of the other big men in the draft, but he is a polished scorer who can stretch the floor with a solid three-point shot.
Sam Dekker- A teammate of Kaminsky’s at Wisconsin, Dekker underwhelmed this year. His three point shot, where I believe he will eventually make his money in the NBA, fell from almost 40% his freshman year to around 32% his sophomore year. He also lacks elite athleticism for an NBA small forward, as well as size. However, he is a heady player who makes the smart play, and if he can find his shot again, this could be a late round steal of a solid rotation player.
Juwan Staten- Staten is a a small, experience guard from West Virginia. While he doesn’t have tremendous upside due to his age and lack of ideal size for an NBA guard at either the 1 or the 2, he does have tremendous quickness, and the ability to get to the rim very quickly and finish. He also shot the three fairly well (albeit on a very small sample size), which should translate to the NBA. At the next level, he’s capable of being a rich man’s Ish Smith, a small, quick guard who provides a punch of energy off the bench.
Yes, it is way too early to be looking at the 2015 draft. A lot of things can and will change between then and now, but it is always fun to look at guys who will have an impact in the NBA, especially those who could do it in orage and purple.