In preparation for the NBA Draft in late June, the Phoenix Suns will begin hosting groups of players for private workouts in Phoenix beginning on Tuesday, May 27.
Players involved in each group will be announced by the team on the morning of the workout (some confirmations are truly last-minute). Media will be allowed to watch the last few minutes of each workout, and then interview players, coach and GM.
Bryan Gibberman, Sean Sullivan, Kris Habbas and I will try to hit all of the workouts and recap them for BSotS consumption.
Last year, the Suns held 10 large workouts - more than 60 players total - grouping players together in such a way as to create competition at single positions. Coach Jeff Hornacek and GM Ryan McDonough both expressed a desire to see the players, even the top draft pick prospects, compete with each other for the two solid hours rather than insist on individual workouts without competition.
The Suns even introduced a running drill at the end of each workout to test the players on both physical and mental levels. Physically, were the players in proper shape for one of the most important periods of their lives? Mentally, could they "sell out" on the hard running after already finishing an hour+ workout.
The test was how many times you can run the court, end to end, in three minutes. Mason Plumlee said he beat everyone with 26 reps in his workout. Some guys dogged it. Some, like Plumlee, did not.
Ben McLemore - at the time projected to be a top-3 pick and one of the few healthy top-10 picks on the board - refused to compete against other shooting guards, a development not lost on the Suns or the other players in the draft. Many of them noted disappointment that McLemore wouldn't compete. McLemore ended up going 7th to the Sacramento, two picks after the Suns took Alex Len.
Conversely, Michael Carter-Williams wowed the Suns in his group workout, as did several other prospects including Mason Plumlee. Alex Len was injured, but came to the Suns anyway to get looked at and interviewed on the Suns turf. Archie Goodwin impressed in his group workout with other guards, and was brought back for a second workout just prior to the draft.
On the other end of the spectrum, Otto Porter and Nerlens Noel did not even visit the valley despite the Suns having the #5 pick.
What to watch for
- Usually you find out participants on twitter before the Suns formally announce them
- Check out how the Suns organize the participants. Often, it will be a theme day designed to separate similar players.
- Will the Suns throw something unexpected at them this year, like last year's running drill?
- Watch to see who declines invitations. The Suns don't pick higher than 14, so the top 5 might not visit the Valley.
- If any of the consensus top 5 or top 10 visit the valley, you can guess their agents believe the Suns have a chance to trade up into the Top 10, or that their agents see the potential of dropping to 14.
- The Suns were candid last year - they openly praised those who competed and noted concern about players who don't. McDonough said on radio last week that his position has not changed. Watch for "tells" in their post-workout comments.