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Suns Pre-Draft Workouts Focus On Centers and Wings

Today's haul includes three legit centers and three mid-sized wing players. There's a few interesting names in this bunch, but it was more interesting to see Steve Kerr and David Griffin sitting sideline watching along with Gentry, while Majerle and Kokoskov mostly ran things.

Sarver did show up late, as well.

For whatever it's worth, three different people in the Suns organization I spoke with said everything's going to be alright and sent the "it's all going to work out" message. Clearly, they are sensitive to the negative reaction, but they are going to need to speak more openly about what's going on for the happy-talk to ring through.

On to business, below you will find profiles of the six players that worked out today. I spoke with one of them.

Ryan Thompson, 6'6", SG/SF (poss. PG), Rider

Has great size and is a smart, versatile player who considers himself a possible PG/SG, but has the size of a small forward in the mold of a Terrance Williams, but without the explosiveness and quickness. Younger brother to Kings PF/C Jason Thompson.

Draft Express says:

Rider’s Ryan Thompson had one of the more revealing performances at Portsmouth, leading the tournament in scoring while demonstrating versatility and an incredibly high basketball IQ.

At 6’6, Thompson has good size for the wing along with solid length and a strong frame. He is a less than impressive athlete, however, and, while he could maximize his physical potential by slimming down some, he will likely remain below average by NBA standards.

On the offensive end, Thompson played an incredibly intelligent brand of basketball and displayed a very diverse skill set. He was most effective as a shooter, hitting 57.5% from the field and 64.3% from beyond the arc. Though he could still get more elevation on his jump shot, he has corrected much of the flat-footed, arc-less shot he displayed as a senior in college, where he shot just 32.4% from beyond the arc.

Thompson continued his good shooting in today's workout with the Suns, hitting 16 of 25 threes in a shooting drill and 21 of 25 twos. Ryan struggled his senior year at Rider due to chemistry and role issues, but his good performance in Portsmouth has several teams giving him good looks. He said the biggest question he's heard from scouts is about his consistent outside shooting.

Ryan said his older brother Jason gave him some good advice about the grind of the pre-draft process.

Suns, Spurs, Nets, Blazers and Heat are teams that Ryan and his agent think might be interested in him. Some teams think he might sneak in late first round or go in the second, but as Ryan said, "You never really know what can happen. You go in there thinking the worst, hoping the best."

He's not listed on any of the major mock drafts, but that's not unusual for second round guys.

Audio: Ryan Thompson 061810

Tyren Johnson, 6'7", SF/PF, Louisiana-Lafayette

Combo forward with decent all-around skills, including passing and the ability to defend the pick and roll.

Draft Express says:

Coming into this camp with little to no buzz after a solid yet not overwhelmingly impressive season on a bad team in the Sun Belt conference, few prospects helped themselves as much this week as Louisiana Lafayette’s Tyren Johnson.

A combo forward with nice physical attributes, including decent size (around 6-8), a nice frame, long arms and good athleticism, Johnson is a versatile player who does a little bit of everything.

Offensively, he likes to face the basket, where he shows the ability to make shots with range out to the 3-point line, albeit inconsistently. He has the ability to shoot off the dribble as well, but is streaky here as well, not always really knowing his limitations at this point.

Defensively, Johnson is interesting, as he showed the ability to guard either forward position at this camp, and contributes to his team by coming up with extra possessions in the form of blocks, steals and rebounds.

Players like Johnson are very much en vogue these days, as he’s essentially the prototype for what teams look for in a Josh Smith style face the basket power forward. Still raw around the edges and clearly not a finished product, Johnson will probably get some looks from teams in private workouts and will be someone to keep tabs on in Europe or the D-League over the next few years to see how he progresses.

Jerome Jordan, 7'1", C, Tulsa

Very long and fairly mobile center with some range and variety of offensive moves. Defense seems to be a work in progress. Projected late 1st round to mid 2nd round.

NBA says

Strengths: Was one of the most effective centers in the nation as a senior averaging 15 and 9 with over 2 blocks per game ... Has an ideal NBA center frame with tremendous dimensions including a huge (7-foot-6) wingspan on a 7-plus foot frame ... Players his size don't often have his agility. Solid in the open floor and has some leaping ability ...  Shows nice touch for a bigman. Has an excellent shooting form on mid-range jumpers and free throws with efficiency (68% as a senior but should be able to shoot better) ... Appears comfortable stepping out to 12-15 feet and knocking down jump shots with good form ... Became a lot more comfortable in his senior year showing the ability to be an effective scorer in the paint ...

Weaknesses:  From Jamaica, Jordan was late to playing organized ball but has shown steady improvement over his college career ... Born in Sept 1986, Jordan will be over 24 before he ever suits up for an NBA team. His age takes away some of the intrigue regarding his potential ... Does not appear to enjoy contact and lacks the tough demeanor that you want in a post player ... Lack of body strength becomes apparent when he meets contact ... Has decent body mass but lacks natural strength, particularly in his legs, and will be pushed around at the NBA level ... Likely will struggle to put on additional strength due to his age ... Despite being a fluid athlete, he appears to have a bit of an old man's body and doesn't show great explosiveness or quickness in his movements ...


Anthony Mason, Jr., 6'7", SF/PF, St. John's

Athletic, good size and body, but seems to lack polished game.

Draft Express says:

Former New York Knick enforcer Anthony Mason’s son, Anthony Mason Jr, was the leading scorer on St. John’s last season.

Offensively, Mason Jr is fairly talented as well, showing potential with his ability to hit shots off the dribble and particularly beyond the arc, where he hit 38% of his 3-point attempts. Scoring 14 points per game in the Big East is nothing to sneer at, but unfortunately Mason Jr needed an unbelievable amount of shots each game to get to that number.

Mason Jr has two major and very much related issues which he will have to resolve if he’s to have any chance at playing in the NBA—his ball-handling skills and shot-selection. He struggles badly to create shots for himself off the bounce (especially with his left hand), sporting a very high dribble, and looking very limited in his ability to change directions with the ball and get to the rim.

Defensively, we find mostly a mixed bag as well. He has excellent tools here, a nice frame, good length, and the athleticism needed to make an impact. The problem is that his fundamentals are extremely poor, losing focus easily, not doing a great job containing his man on the perimeter, and gambling excessively in the passing lanes. He’s also a fairly mediocre rebounder considering that his physical tools, which has everything to do with toughness and effort, traits that Mason Jr currently does not stand out in.

There is no question that Mason Jr would have to significantly change his mentality and overall approach to the game if he’s to draw even remote interest from the NBA.


Hamady Ndiaye, 6'11", C, Rutgers

Projected middle of the second round, Ndiaye is an athletic, raw big known more for his defense, shot-blocking and hustle.

Draft Express says

After four years as a shot-blocking specialist at Rutgers, long, athletic 6’11 center Hamady Ndiaye had a solid first game (10 Points 5/8 FG, 10 Rebounds, 2 Blocks, 2 Turnovers) at Portsmouth.

On defense, he played with energy and used his solid lateral quickness, timing, and length to alter more shots than his two blocks indicate. He even was a factor on the boards and boxed out on most defensive possessions, which was interesting given his sub-par rebounding numbers at Rutgers.

On offense, he had a couple of nice jump hooks, but his poor hands, non-existent ball handling ability, questionable instincts, and raw skill set are severely limiting factors, even if he does finish well around the basket. His conditioning also looked poor as he struggled to get up and down the court after a few minutes of intense effort.



Art Parakhouski, 6'11", C, Radford/Belarus

Projected as a mid-second round pick, this guy is a typical large, raw big.

Draft Express says:

Moving forward, that may be one of the more important developments Parakhouski is yet to make. His size affords him a ton of success against the average NCAA center, and he’s become especially decisive on the block. His poise on the block and ability to get to the line account for his increased scoring average, but Parakhouski continues to show flashes of potential as a shooter.

Usually able to take what the defense gives him, turn into contact, and finish, Parakhouski shows soft touch on the occasions that he goes to his turnaround jumper. Until he develops a more consistent hook shot, he’ll need to improve his ability to hit his turnaround jumpers to compensate for the more physically gifted NBA defenders he won’t be able to seal with a simple drop step.

His jump shot currently features a low release point and little in the way of rhythm- two things he’ll need to work on in the future. If Parakhouski can develop a go-to-move on the block, it will ease his transition to the NBA considerably.

Defensively, Parakhouski has shown some improvement this season, largely due to the improvements he’s made to his body—which looks significantly better. He appears more comfortable making rotations from the weakside, which has allowed him to block more shots based on his size. However, his lack of lateral quickness will likely limit his defensive presence on the next level.

His physical strength allows him play effective one-on-one defensive in the post, and he shows active feet playing in the middle of Radford’s zone, but he isn’t fluid or explosive enough to project as a surefire quality defender just yet.

Parakhouski has put himself firmly on the radar of NBA decision-makers with his play thus far this season –it is hard to ignore a player that ranks third in our database in PER, and has only been playing basketball for about five years now.

He’s positioned himself as one of the top seniors in the NCAA and one of the better center prospects in the discussion for this season’s draft. With all said, he’d still be well served to steer his team to the tournament to put an exclamation point on his resume against a big school to end the year.

Regardless of his play down the stretch, Parakhouski will draw a lot of attention come draft season considering his physical profile, production and the fact that he still has plenty of potential left to continue to improve.

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