A week ago, I opined on the draft tendencies of the new Suns front office.
Their draft pick will remain a mystery until the final days, the tipping point simply being who the front office falls in love with. And judging by last year's draft, this front office doesn't like to be a jilted lover. They will likely hone in on a player under the radar, one not coveted by teams above them, unlikely to be snatched up right before their pick.
It seems that player has already been identified, given a promise ring and fitted for a chastity belt. If the reports are right, the only thing I was wrong about was how long it would take the Suns to fall in love.
Dion Waiters, 6th-man sophomore SG from Syracuse, has cancelled all pre-draft workouts and gone home for the month. And while Toronto has been linked to Waiters recently, one outlet says Phoenix is the rumored suitor.
Waiters is ranked on www.espn.com as the #8 overall prospect, but that's by far the highest he's gotten. Two other respected draft sites have Waiters being drafted at #17 (draftexpress.com) and #18 (nbadraft.net).
Waiters definitely fits the bill of the Suns' needs: high-volume scorer, some PG skills in running the pick and roll, and high-energy ball-stealing defender all rolled into one. Some say he is undersized, but he is built solidly and at 6'4" in shoes he measures up just fine.
A "promise" is a little dangerous but not a bad plan if you really like a guy who is projected a little below your pick. If Waiters is there when the Suns pick, they get the guy they love. If Waiters is drafted before the Suns pick, that means someone else fell into the Suns' lap that wasn't supposed to fall there (Jeremy Lamb?). Works out well for Phoenix.
But the only reason Waiters would cancel workouts is if he (a) really loves the Suns and (b) has no interest in playing for a team higher in the lottery. Otherwise, why not work out for teams above the Suns, if that's who made the promise? If this is the Suns, they made a heck of a sales pitch.
The ESPN guy loves Waiters and has had him going to Toronto at #8 for weeks now.
And here's a quote in an espn insider article that speaks to Waiters' upside:
A number of NBA scouts who I really respect have been telling me for more than a month that the real sleeper in this draft is Syracuse sophomore Dion Waiters.
One GM went even further. "There are really only two potential superstars in this draft. One is a sure thing -- freshman Anthony Davis. The other one is Waiters. He can be an electric scorer in the NBA. There's some Dwyane Wade in him."
So Waiters has a ceiling that's pretty high. 'How high' is the real question. Someone gave him a promise.
Was it Toronto? Probably not. Toronto is shopping the #8 pick right now, and you saw above that Bryan Colangelo is openly denying any promise. How can you promise anything when you're not even sure where you are drafting, if at all?
Phoenix, on the other hand, just promised the local reporters this week that they are almost certainly staying at #13, which I thought was odd when I read it on BSotS. Why no creativity? Why no "we're looking to move up, down, whatever to get the best player."
Well, now it makes sense. When you promise your draft slot, you can't be trading it away.
And like I wrote a week ago (no, I don't have any inside info), Blanks falls in love. He loved Morris a year ago and still does. In fact, that's the very reason you won't see the Suns draft a big man.
He loved Iman Shumpert a year ago and tried to pick up another draft pick in the 20s to take him. But when he was snatched up by New York at #17 after a late workout for them, Blanks was jilted and didn't even bother grabbing a pick for any other draftee.
So it all makes sense that Blanks and Babby would talk their beloved into NOT working out for anyone else. God forbid he wows Toronto in a workout this month. Or any other team looking for high-octane SG that either already has a pick in the top-12 or is willing to buy/trade for one.
Whoever made that promise to Waiters has to trust that no team above them would draft Waiters without a personal workout or interview. Last year, a couple of late first-round draft picks and their suitors played this game and it worked for the most part.
My guess is that Kyler is right and that the Suns are the suitor. It checks off all the boxes for the Suns and for Waiters. Waiters has a starting spot waiting for him, possibly next to Steve Nash. And if he's not ready to start, he can be a spark-plug off the defense-oriented bench. The Suns get the volume scorer they have coveted for two years now.
Here's some links on Waiters that are interesting: