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Takeaways from the 2017 NBA Draft Combine

What can Suns fans take away from this week’s draft combine?

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

For the Phoenix Suns, who hold a Top-5, 32nd and 54th (Toronto) picks, the NBA Draft Combine has limited value in the evaluation process leading up to the Draft in late June.

As the combine got underway this week, the Suns may have been able to find out more about potential second round picks than anything else, as most of the Top 5 prospects declined to even show up.

Check out for extensive coverage of the Combine and the Draft.

Top-5 Pick

The only candidates for the Top 5 pick who went to the Combine were Markelle Fultz and De’Aaron Fox, both point guards.

Fultz declined everything but interviews, including one with the Suns, not even bothering to get measured along with the rest of the attendees.

All of those teams have a chance to jump into the #1 overall slot, or at least top 3, after the lottery next week.

Fox did get measured, probably because he was trying to purge his Kentucky measurements like a kid trying to dump a bad SAT. After being measured at only 6-4.5” wingspan last fall at Kentucky - woefully short for a potential defensive dynamo - Fox got better news this week. He measured up with the 6-6.5” wingspan this week, plenty long for a point guard. Overall, his dimensions are perfect for today’s NBA point guard, though he needs to gain weight at only 170 pounds.

None of the other Top 5 pick candidates attended the Combine, but don’t be alarmed. Depending on how the lottery shakes out next week, the Suns will likely be able to draw all of them to Phoenix for private workouts including extensive interviews, medical testing, training-team evaluations and on-court work.

There is a chance that Fultz would decline a private Phoenix workout if the Suns drop below #2 overall after the lottery, so it was good to get that interview done this week.

#32 overall

The Suns second pick is just outside the first round, at which point the list of potential candidates is probably 20-30 deep.

Here, the Suns will be filling gaps in their roster with a player who fits a need.

After going super-young for years with their picks, and approaching a season where the core of the team will STILL be 20-and-under to open the season, it might be in the Suns best interest to ignore age with the #32 overall pick and just take the best NBA-ready talent.

Dragan Bender and Devin Booker will open the 2017-18 season at 19 and 20 years old, respectively, while Marquese Chriss will be 20 all season long. On top of that, Derrick Jones Jr. will be 20 for half the season and old man Tyler Ulis will be just 21 most of the season. That’s five super-young players BEFORE counting the Top-5 pick this summer, who will certainly be 20 or younger.

If the Suns go for maturity and ready-now over long-terms potential at #32, like Milwaukee did with Malcolm Brogdon last summer, they could look at Semi Ojeleye - an almost-23 combo forward with various skills inside and out who can hold his own defensively.

They could also go with 21-year old D.J. Wilson, who looks like a very productive front court player with center-size (6-10” height, 7-3” wingspan) who could be in NBA rotations for years. If both Alan Williams and Alex Len are expected to get big offers in restricted free agency, the Suns could really use someone like Wilson in the rotation behind Tyson Chandler.

Or, the Suns could follow their own script and take another long term prospect with outstanding measurables who just needs to learn how to play.

Jonathan Jeanne likely measured his way into the first round, with a freakish 7-6.5” wingspan on his 7-2” frame. But at only 19 years old and weighing just 207 pounds, Jeanne has a long way to go before impactful NBA action.

Thomas Bryant of Indiana also has a long wingspan at 7-6”, but is a less imposing 6-11” and at 240 pounds was compared on DX to Kyle O’Quinn of the Knicks.

DX currently has the Suns taking Caleb Swanigan, PF/C, but with Chriss and Bender still on the team I’m not sure I see this one happening.

Some of you will want to take Jordan Bell, from Oregon, who physically profiles with the dimensions and NBA future of Alan Williams (ie. about 6-8” tall but fitting best at center with a 7-3” wingspan). Bell currently slots at 42 in the DX mock draft.

#54 overall

One of the two picks acquired for P.J. Tucker seems unnecessary this year, so I’d expect the Suns to try to use it in a trade of some sort.

Barring some multi-young-player trade, the Suns will now have 8+ players to develop from NBA-puppy stage, so there’s really no need to add another.

If the Suns still have this pick as it comes up during the draft, expect them to take an international player they can stash for a while overseas. A pair of centers - Alpha Kaba and Viny Okouo - have good measurements and need more time to develop in Europe.

If, though, the Suns have traded 2-3 of their young guys/picks by this point, they could use the #54 pick to fill a gap. There are a number of older prospects (21-23 years old) down in the second-half of the draft who could play roles in the NBA, including big point guard Nigel Williams-Goss and SG/SF Sindarius Thornwell (both 23 next year).


What are your takeaways from the Draft Combine this week? Anyone watching the competitive stuff and drills on NBA-TV?

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