The NBA playoffs are still in full swing and the 2013-14 season has yet to come to a close. For those teams, the focus is still on winning now. However, for the Phoenix Suns, it's time to start looking ahead.
The 2014 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 26...which is now less than two months away. But the NBA Draft Combine is approaching fast, taking place on May 14-18.
Draft coverage is now upon us!
Here are some of the power forwards that the Suns will be keeping a close eye on in the coming draft combine that could be potential candidates for their 14th pick.
6'9", 220lbs, 18 years old, Arizona
Strengths: Elite Athleticism, High Motor, Long, Good Defender, Great Finisher
Weaknesses: Undersized, Inconsistent Jump-Shot
Gordon is the highest-rated power forward within the Suns' reach (sort of), and although he didn't make as many headlines this season as Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, Gordon certainly has star potential, and is still very young at only 18 years old. He is an outstanding athlete, with explosive leaping ability a knack to catch and finish. Although undersized, he has a near 7-foot wingspan which helps him play in the post and grab rebounds at an efficient rate.
Aaron Gordon would be a perfect fit for Phoenix with his youth, athleticism, and raw talent. A player like Gordon manning the front court instantly gives the Suns another highlight reel on offense...and with his lateral quickness and ability to stay in front of his man, he could develop into a quality defender from the perimeter to the post.
However, the only way the Suns land a blue-chip talent like Gordon is if he falls a bit, say to the 9th or 10th spot, and the Suns trade up to get him. Is he worth it?
6'8", 225lbs, 22 years old, Creighton
Strengths: Tremendously Skilled, High B-Ball I.Q., Great Shooter/Scorer, Good Rebounder, Versatile
Weaknesses: Not very athletic, Lacks lateral quickness on defense, Undersized
Doug McDermott was one of the best players in college basketball over the past few seasons. In fact, he was the leading scorer in the NCAA this season, averaging 26.7 points per game...a number he has improved upon with each season at Creighton.
McDermott is definitely the most skilled player on this list, and has the best understanding of the game as well. He flat out knows how to win games, and in addition to his lights out scoring, does a lot of little things to help his team succeed.
There's no doubt how great McDermott was in college, but how will his game transition to the NBA? Not only that, but could he succeed in a fast-tempo offense like the Suns which depends on speed and athleticism? He certainly has the shooting ability to play a stretch four, but what else? I'm sure our own resident Creighton expert Jacob Padilla will have a great deal to say about Doug in the near future.
6'10", 220lbs, 20 years old, Cibona Zegreb (Intl)
Strengths: Tremendously Skilled, Great Scorer, Ball-handling, Amazing Passing and Vision
Weaknesses: Not Overly Athletic, Lacks Strength, Questionable Defense
Saric is a very interesting prospect. His game is very unique for a player of his size and position. He is a phenomenal ball-handler and passer, a good rebounder, and is tremendously skilled offensively. He can score inside and out, off the ball and on. His ball handling and vision helps him get to the rim very well, but he finishes with lay-ups instead of dunks...still at a very efficient rate, however.
Dario Saric is an interesting case because he seems like a 6'10" point guard on the floor. He is tall, but he doesn't play like a big man at all. He's also not very long, with only an average wingspan. Although he isn't a very high leaper, he does possess good agility and speed which helps him run the floor quickly and navigate through traffic.
Whoever drafts Saric will be investing in the future, since it is very unlikely he plays in the NBA for at least another year or two. He has already stated his intentions to remain in Europe for at least another season, and it seems the 2016/17 season is his target year to make the transition. This could be an option for the Suns who can afford to develop a player overseas for a year or two, and a player like Saric could certainly be worth the wait.
6'9", 215lbs, 23 years old, Michigan St.
Strengths: Athletic, Long, Good Shooter, Runs the Floor Well, Good Defender
Adreian Payne is one of the fastest risers in college this season. After very unimpressive freshman and sophomore seasons, he burst onto the scene in his junior year, and then followed it up this year with even more terrific play for Michigan State...quickly becoming one of the most recognizable players in college basketball for his play on the court, as well as his great character and kindness off of it.
I think Payne will continue to rise up the mocks as the draft approaches, especially if he puts on a good showing at the combine. He may be one of the most underrated players in the draft this year, with his age being the only real negative keeping him from being a top-10 talent.
Payne could be one of the biggest steals in the draft as a mid-lottery pick with his skill set, athleticism, character, and talent. He could be a very good fit for the Suns who just happen to be in the market for a versatile power forward who can stretch the floor, defend the post, and finish above the rim.
This is part one of the power forwards preview. I'll be posting part two with the other players that the Suns will be looking at with their 18th and 27 picks tomorrow.
With as many as three first round picks available, the Suns have a lot of choices to make. Who do you like out of this group, if anyone? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.