Last year, the Phoenix Suns brought in a league high 60 players to US Airways Center to participate in group workouts of 4-6 players at a time. New GM Ryan McDonough organized the workouts with a bare bones front office missing most of its current shape and certainly all playing with a brand new deck of cards.
This year, McDonough and his full team can focus on nothing but basketball. Watch out, NBA. The Suns are starting nearly a week earlier, hosting their first group workout on Tuesday with reportedly another on Wednesday featuring Jahii Carson, one on Thursday with P.J. Hairston and another on Friday featuring Russ Smith.
The Suns have picks number 14, 18, 27 and 50 in the Draft, meaning they will probably try to exceed last year's count of 60 prospects simply because their pick range is everywhere and anywhere.
Today's workout was loaded with second round talent, but only Deonte Burton and Artem Klimenko are projected to be drafted in DX's latest mock draft.
There was no media access to the players today, but here's what the Suns GM and Head Coach had to say about today's workout:
Suns GM Ryan McDonough:
On this group of players and who stood out:
"Alec Brown's shooting really stands out at his size...Artem Klimenko was the youngest player at the workout and his skill for his size stood out. Jakarr Sampson and Jamil Wilson's ability to guard defensively and athleticism stood out. Deonte Burton is very stong and pretty productive college player...Keith Appling had a lot of success on one of the best teams in the country at Michigan St. and he stood out in three on three play."
"They all had their moments, nobody dominated the workout"
On having multiple picks in the draft:
"The good thing about our picks is flexibility...We feel like we can get anywhere in the draft, except for the high, high end of the lottery...We can get anywhere we want to get."
"If there are guys who are undervalued and we need to move to get them, we'll do that...like we did last year with Archie Goodwin".
Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek:
On how he and Ryan McDonough view prospects differently:
"As coaches we naturally tend to think...can they play immediately? Whereas Ryan has done this now for 11 or 12 years and he sees guys and how they develop...and I think he has a better view on how they can be four or five years down the line."
On what he liked from today's group
"They're very athletic, and they all played hard...I think there's some of these guys that if they can improve their shot it will give them a better chance of playing in this league. They all lend their different things...whether it's shooting, rebounding, or going after the ball. When we do some of the drills we really want to see if they can pass the ball at the right time, especially for the point guards that we bring in, and I think these guys did it."
- Keith Appling, G, 6'1", Michigan State, DX's 73rd in Top 100
- Alec Brown, C, 7'1", Wisconsin-Green Bay, DX's 77th in Top 100
- Deonte Burton, G, 6'1", Nevada, DX's 37th in Top 100, 47th in Mock Draft
- Artem Klimenko, C, 7'0", Saratov, Russia, DX's 39th in Top 100, 37th in Mock Draft
- JaKarr Sampson F, 6'9", St. John's, DX's 82nd in Top 100
- Jamil Wilson, F, 6'7", Marquette, DX's 46th among seniors (not in Top 100)
Another workout is scheduled tomorrow...Stay tuned