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Phoenix Suns best fits for the 44th pick in the June NBA draft

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Predicting a second round pick is a difficult task. Instead, here are some of the likely targets for the Suns.

Louisville's Terry Rozier drives to the hoop as Boston College's Olivier Hanlan looks on.
Louisville's Terry Rozier drives to the hoop as Boston College's Olivier Hanlan looks on.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Second round draft picks, while increasingly valuable (see: Hinkie, Sam), are incredibly hard to predict. Whereas with first round picks the discussion is often about need versus best-player available, front office discussions of second round picks are often more multifaceted. Does this guy have enough upside to see NBA minutes? What level of competition did he play against? (For international players) What does the buyout clause in his contract look like?

Instead of trying to predict who the Suns are going to pick (which would be an educated guess, at best), we thought it would be useful to profile some of the guys they will likely be considering.

It seems as if there are four potential types of targets for the Suns in the second round this year: a PG (since we currently lack a backup), a PF (hoping for increased bench production), a C (as a Brandan Wright insurance policy), or a draft-and-stash candidate (because our roster may be overcrowded).

Using the DX-100 list, as well as some of my personal takes, I tried to identify the top targets in each of these four types of picks.

Point Guards

Name School Height Wingspan PPG FG% RPG APG PER
Andrew Harrison Kentucky 6'5.5 6'9 9.3 37.8 2.2 3.6 18.2
Terry Rozier Louisville 6'2.25 6'6.5 17.1 41.1 5.6 3.0 22.4
Olivier Hanlan Boston College 6'4.25 6'6.5 19.5 45.4 4.2 4.2 22.5

This year is a relatively deep year for point guards. The Suns will have many options, including in the first round, to take a talented guard.

The highest rated guy in our range, according to DX, is Andrew Harrison. Harrison is an interesting player. Generally credited as the stronger of the Harrison brothers, Andrew has great size for the position at nearly 6'6 in shoes, and has a 6'9 wingspan to back it up. Unfortunately, with that great size does not come great athleticism: Harrison has not graded out as an elite athlete. Of the point guards at the NBA Combine, Harrison graded out in the bottom third in nearly every athletic measurement, with the exception of the max vert, where he was right in the middle of the pack. Also potentially concerning is Harrison's shooting ability: while he shot fairly well from beyond the arc, he converted less than 40% of his 2 point opportunities. Harrison did flash strong play-making ability, and on the defensive end he seems to know well how to use his superior size. Most of the concerns regarding his game come on the offensive side of the ball.

The next potential target is Louisville's Terry Rozier. AT 6'2, 190 Rozier lacks elite size, but makes up for some of that with his great athleticism. He had among the better marks in both the agility and sprint tests at the combine for point guards. In college, Rozier was a first option on offense, but he was not a terribly efficient scorer: he shot just 30% from beyond the arc on 4 attempts per game. He also wasn't a particularly strong distributor, averaging just 3 APG over 35 minutes. Rozier's calling card has been his defense. He was well coached at Louisville by Rick Pitino, and uses his length and athleticism well in a team defense setting. He is also a tremendous rebounder for his position, which is a good selling point for the Suns, a team which has struggled with rebounding over the last few years.

Finally, there is Olivier Hanlan out of Boston College. Hanlan, like Harrison, has tremendous size but perhaps somewhat less than stellar athleticism. However, unlike Harrison, there are few concerns about Hanlan's offense. Hanlan averaged nearly 20 points-per-game on 45% shooting, including 35% from beyond the arc. As a distributor Hanlan didn't produce very well, but at least some of this can be chalked up to the poor talent surrounding Hanlan at Boston College. Ball handling is apparently a concern with Hanlan, and this contributed to his somewhat high number of turnovers per game. Hanlan's downside is as a defender, where his sub-par athleticism and a lack of focus have scouts concerned about his ability to defend NBA-caliber guards.

Others to watch for: Joseph Young, Oregon, PAC-12 Player of the YearQuinn Cook, Duke, National ChampionT.J. McConnell, Arizona, Cousy Award FinalistKeifer Sykes, Green Bay, 2-time Horizon League Player of the Year

Power Forwards

Name School Height Wingspan PPG FG% RPG BPG PER
Vince Hunter UTEP 6'7.5 6'11 14.9 52.6 9.2 1.0 26.2
Richaun Holmes Bowling Green 6'9.5 7'1.5 14.4 56.1 8.0 2.7 30.5
Aaron White Iowa 6'8.75 6'11.5 16.4 52.1 7.3 .5 29.8

Vince Hunter of UTEP, just a sophomore, entered the draft early this year hoping to break into the first round. It seems he is unlikely to do that, and he falls squarely within the Suns draft range. Hunter is an average athlete among the available PFs, and is somewhat undersized at just 6'7.5. He does have a 6'11 wingspan, which will help alleviate some of the size concerns. Hunter is a fairly consistent offensive player, and has a slew of above average post moves and good instincts on put backs, but doesn't project as a good shooter, as he shot just 60% from the line this year. Hunter was a strong rebounder, and some comparisons have been drawn between Hunter's offensive game and the game of Kenneth Faried. On the defensive end, Hunter is seen as a highly versatile player who can guard at least three different positions. He is also known for quick hands, and he averaged 1.2 steals per game.

One of the most interesting players in the second round field this year is Richaun Holmes out of Bowling Green. Holmes doesn't have elite size for the PF position (6'9), but he does have prodigious leaping ability and better than expected agility and speed. Holmes' offensive game is still a work in progress, but he shouldered a heavy offensive load at BGSU and managed to maintain a relatively efficient scoring profile. However, Holmes is not seen as a player who will be a contributor right away on the offensive end. At the defensive end, however, Holmes is considered a player who will contribute immediately. Holmes pace adjusted per-40 block numbers come in just below Karl Anthony Towns', and even against notably inferior competition that is still impressive. Combined with his great size and length, Holmes has strong defensive potential. After a dominating performance at the Portsmouth Invitational, Holmes has been moving up draft boards fairly quickly.

Aaron White of Iowa is the last potential target at PF. White is a bread-and-butter, old school PF. He has average size for the position, and graded out middle of the pack athletically. On the offensive end, he seems most comfortable off of lobs, in transition and with his back to the basket. He has yet to develop a consistent outside shot, though he hit nearly 36% of his threes on the year. Worryingly, White wasn't the most prolific rebounder at the college level, though at least some of this can be attributed to playing with a strong rebounding frontcourt, including draft prospect Gabe Olaseni. On the defensive end, White will need to improve to be able to compete. He lacks strength, and gets pushed around a lot.

Others to watch for: Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming, MWC Defensive Player of the YearBrandon Ashley, Arizona, PAC-12 Tournament MVP

Centers

Name School Height Wingspan PPG FG% RPG BPG PER
Alan Williams UC Santa Barbara 6'8.25 7'1.75 17.6 45.6 12.1 1.8 29.3
Dakari Johnson Kentucky 6'11.75 7'2 6.4 50.6 4.6 .9 22.7
Cady Lalanne UMass 6'8.25 (no shoes) 7'5 11.6 55.2 9.5 1.9 21.1


Alan Williams, a senior out of UC Santa Barbara, has seen his draft stock rise after an impressive performance at the Draft Combine scrimmages, and has been mocked as high as 48. Williams is short for a center at just 6'8, but has a good frame and wingspan (7'2). He'll need to lose weight and add muscle if he wants to play center at the NBA level. Williams carried a heavy offensive load at the NCAA level, and this season in particular his efficiency declined. Williams has decent footwork and a few developed post moves, and projects as an average at best offensive player at the NBA level. As a rebounder, however, Williams projects very well. Williams was one of college basketball's best rebounders this past season, and he dominated the boards at the Draft Combine. Williams' biggest struggles might come on the defensive end, where his lack of size for the position and stamina concerns could hurt him. He would likely be a developmental pick, as odd as that might sound for a senior. (Fun fact: Williams grew up in Phoenix and attended North High School).

Dakari Johnson may be the most interesting second round pick this year. It is hard to think of a 7 foot, nearly 270 pound player getting overshadowed, but Johnson averaged just 17 minutes per game this year as he played behind Karl Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. Johnson has elite size for the center position at 7 feet, with a 7'2 wingspan, but at the combine he came in over weight and tested out fairly poorly athletically. As a sophomore at Kentucky, Johnson improved in a number of areas. He showed a much better touch at the FT line, getting his FT% up to over 60%, and also fouled much less. Johnson doesn't project to be a great offensive player - he shot just 50% from the field this year - but on the defensive end and as a rebounder he projects well. The biggest questions are whether Johnson is athletic enough for the position at the NBA level, and how much of his deficiencies on the offensive and defensive ends were covered up playing with two top-10 picks. Johnson missed an opportunity to allay some of these concerns by failing to participate in the Draft Combine scrimmages.

The final prospect I want to cover for this pick is Cady Lalanne out of UMass. Lalanne is seen as having an outside shot of getting drafted - he is ranked 65th overall on the DX-100 and 87th on Chad Ford's Big Board. What intrigues me about Lalanne, and why he has been quietly moving up draft boards, is his unique combination of size, athleticism and shooting touch. While Lalanne's height is just a little below average for the center position (likely 6'9.5 w/shoes), his 7'5 wingspan helps him to cover any reach gap, and his standing reach is comparable to Cauley-Stein. At UMass, Lalanne was known as a player who didn't have a very polished offensive game and an at times inconsistent motor, but that could rebound the ball from nearly anywhere with his impressive reach. Throughout the Draft process, however, Lalanne has shown improvements. At the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Lalanne averaged 13 points, 12 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, on 52% shooting, including hitting 2 of 4 three pointers and 73% of his FTs. At the tournament he split time at the 4 and 5 positions, and if picked in the middle of the second round it would likely be because of his ability to play the small ball center. At best, he could end up like a Brandan Wright type player with a little more range.

Others to watch for: Chris Walker, FloridaGabe Olaseni, IowaSatnam Singh, IMG Academy and India

Draft and Stash Candidates

Name Pos Height PPG FG% RPG APG PER
Aleksandar Vezenkov F 6'8 17.3 48.6 7.2 1.7 24.1
Alpha Kaba PF/C 6'10 10.7 7.9 .8 19.9
Mouhammadou Jaiteh C 6'11 11.3 59.8 6.5 .7 21.2
Timothe Luwawu SG/SF 6'7 7 38.3 2.5 1.4 12.5

One of the more interesting draft-and-stash candidates in this years draft is Aleksandar Vezenkov, who played most recently in the Greek league. Vezenkov is a 2-time winner of the Greek league's Best Young Player award. At 6'8, 200 pounds Vezenkov likely projects as a SF in the NBA, though he has played both forward positions in Europe. In his first year as a full time starter, Vezenkov has impressed, putting up 21.4 points pace adjusted per 40, on 49% shooting, including 38% from beyond the arc. Vezenkov isn't known as a particularly stellar defensive player - Chad Ford notes that he lacks both size and athleticism - and may end up as a stretch-4 in the mold of Ersan Ilyasova. One thing to note is that Vezenkov's court vision has been lauded by many scouts, and he could serve as a good bench-point forward for a team lacking strong play-making skills at the backup PG spot.

Alpha Kaba, a 6'10 PF/C who currently plays for Pau-Orthez in France is another draft-and-stash prospect. Pau-Orthez has a reputation of developing NBA caliber bigs, and Kaba is the latest case. Kaba, who is in the class of '96, is a raw player with tremendous upside. He has athleticism and size for his position, and apparently a somewhat consistent if clunky outside shot. Complaints around Kaba have been that he doesn't have the best understanding of the game and that he lacks consistent effort, but these are things you would think are relatively normal for a 19 year old. There is very little game film of Kaba - he played in just 8 games for Pau-Orthez's A team this year - so he is one of the least known players in the draft.

Unlike Kaba, Mouhammadou Jaiteh is a relatively open book. Astute draft watchers among the Brightside faithful will remember that Jaiteh was on the radar for the team in the 2013 draft after he had a strong Nike Hoop Summit performance. Wisely or not, he pulled his name from that draft (where he was projected as a borderline first round pick) in the hope of increasing his stock. Jaiteh currently plays for Nanterre in France, where he is a starter. With average height and a better than average wingspan, Jaiteh has the size for the center position in the NBA. While he doesn't grade out as a great athlete, he is just slightly below average. Jaiteh has improved his offensive game over the years with Nanterre, and now projects as a serviceable NBA center on the offensive end, a fact he showed in the Draft Combine scrimmage, where he displayed a solid offensive game. Jaiteh's real strength is as a rebounder: with Nanterre, he averaged 11.3 rebounds per game pace adjusted per-40, an all-the-more impressive total considering that nearly 40% of those rebounds were offensive. On the defensive end, Jaiteh still has room to improve, particularly as a weakside help defender and a defensive anchor in the paint.

The final draft-and-stash candidate is Timothe Luwawu, who currently plays for Antibes in France. Luwawu, a 6'7 wing, is much like Kaba in that he has played very little top flight competition. Much of the excitement around Luwawu revolves around his strong performance at international camps, such as the adidas EuroCamp. Luwawu's offensive game currently revolves around athleticism and a very deep shooting range. This season, in France's second tier league, Luwawu was very pedestrian, averaging just 6.9 points per game on sub-40% shooting. Going forward, he'll need to show much more efficiency. At the moment, Luwawu's most developed skill-set is on the defensive end, where he uses his athleticism and size advantages to great effect. For those who remember the excitement around Damien Inglis last year, Luwawu projects as a very similar, if somewhat smaller version.

Others to watch for: Nikola Milutinov, C, PartizanGuillermo Hernangomez, C, SevillaCedi Osman, SF, Anadolu EfesNedim Buza, SF, Spars Sarajevo