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Phoenix Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough Explains The Value Of NBA Draft Workouts

Suns GM Ryan McDonough gives in depth detail to the NBA Draft workout process.


The Phoenix Suns started the grueling process of working out prospects for the 2014 NBA Draft Tuesday morning.

With the Suns having the 14th, 18th, 27th and 50th picks this can be a more extensive process for them than other organizations, especially when you include the flexibility to move up or down with the four picks.

General manager Ryan McDonough gave a general overview of what he likes to get out these sessions.

"You hope the workouts do confirm what your eyes have told you all year," explained McDonough.  "Our scouts have traveled around the world to see these guys in person.  We've watched a lot of videotape on them."

"We want to get them in here to see how they've developed and what they've been working on since their season's ended.  Also see what kind of condition they're in and have them get a lot of shots up.  Put them in some different situations that they may not have been put in with their college or international teams.  It's a bit of all that, but most importantly for us to get to know them a little more and spend some time with them and get to see where they are as players."

In this setting Phoenix's brass gets to see the hopeful draftees in different situations than they're typically exposed to.

"Most of the time these guys played, whether it be for their college teams or internationally, they're the best player on the court or the best player at their position," said McDonough.  "This is obviously a process of elimination for us.  In some ways it's kind of the best against the best."

"We try to match up the top guy at certain positions and have them go.  There's no hiding out here.  There's no guys that aren't comparable to NBA players physically, athletically or in terms of their production.  We try to match them up and have them go head to head and see who the best guys are."

Within those matchups the groups of at most six are put together with a specific thought process in mind even though because of the tight time frame it isn't always able to be pulled off.

"We try to do that at least initially to have two point guards, two wing players and two big men.  You can only have six players in a workout at a time," the Suns GM walked us through on how he preferred to have the workouts be organized.

"We feel like doing it this way simulates game action the best.  You can see some pick and roll situations, you can play some three on three full court, you have individual match ups that are pretty good, you get to see how guys guard different positions if they're cross matched."

"We've tried to do it that way early.  As you guys know there's a limited time that we have to get these guys in, the draft is in less than a month and there's 29 teams trying to do the same thing we are.   We take them whenever we can get them, ideally we'd like to set it up this way."

Despite having a lengthy history in the league, last offseason was McDonough's first year as the man in charge of everything.   Going into year two the adjustment period is over and it's full steam ahead.

"I feel like we've streamlined everything," he said.  "Last year as this was going on we hired a head coach, putting together a coaching staff and tweaking some things with our training staff with how we wanted it to go.  This year we've been through it."

"The format this year was very similar to what we ended up with last year, not necessarily what we started with throughout the workout process, we added things, added different drills.  This year everybody is comfortable working with each other.  The coaches know their roles, they've been through it once as well.  There weren't any drastic tweaks, I just think we're more organized this year."

When it comes to the actual workouts McDonough takes a back seat and leaves the job to head coach Jeff Hornacek and his staff.

"Jeff and the coaching staff put together most of it," said McDonough.  "It's pretty standard.  We don't change it that much."

"We feel like we have a good variety of some competitive action - 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3, we go up and down a decent amount, we do a lot of shooting.  We try to mirror how the Suns play as much as we can.   We did the three-minute conditioning run at the end, which the guys hate.  If you're gonna play like we play and try to lead the league in fast break points you're gonna have to get up and down.  We try to simulate game action as much as we can while only having two to six guys on the court at a time."

While observing what's going on McDonough explained what he likes to keep an eye out for.

"Personally I like to get a feel for what they've been doing since their season ended.   We watched them practice during the season; we watched them play during the season.  We're trying to get a feel for what they've been working on, have they improved, what kind of shape they're in."

"You'd be surprised the guys come in at different levels of conditioning and readiness for these workouts.  Some you can tell have been doing similar workouts are very well prepared.  They come in and nail the workout, and other guys are either out of shape or unprepared.  We try to take that all into account.  Most importantly we spend that one on one time with them cause that's really the thing we don't get during the season."

Draft workouts clearly aren't the be all end all when evaluating prospects, but you can see from McDonough's comments on Tuesday the value they have as an information gatherer in the process.

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