Over the past several years, Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough and his front office have brought in a league-high volume of draft prospects to group or individual visits in the valley of the sun to get to know them better before deciding who to take in the draft.
In 2013, the Suns dangled the 5th and 30th overall picks to entice several dozen players - missing out only on some of the very top prospects (including Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter) and some mid-lottery guys with promises lower in the draft.
In 2014, the Suns got all but the very top 8 prospects into Phoenix because they held the 14th, 18th and 27th picks.
In 2015, they only had the 13th pick but still drew a near league-high number of guys into Phoenix for predraft workouts.
And last year, they used the 4th and 13th picks to entice just about every prospect into town.
This year’s picks profile a lot like 2013, as they hold the 4th and 32nd pick leading up to the Draft in June. And, now that the rosters are going to expand to 17 players - with two of them two-players between the D-League and the Suns - you can expect a churn of lower-level prospects filing through Phoenix.
Yet, signs point to the Suns scaling back a bit on sheer volume this year.
Instead, they may focus more on visiting some of the top prospects in their own habitat.
The league allows each player to visit twice with an individual NBA team - once for 24 hours and once for 48 hours. It doesn’t specify location.
“We may try to maximize those in terms of going to visit a guy in his hometown or where he’s working out for say 24-48 hours and then bringing him here to Phoenix for the other visit,” McDonough said.
When the Suns wrapped up the season in April, coach Earl Watson talked earnestly about getting on the road like college-style recruiting to meet these prospects and figure out how they can fit in with the Suns roster.
He wants to meet their parents, their friends, see who they hang out with and how they live. He sounded a lot like a college coach there, but was adamant he wanted to see how much he could do that with the Suns.
Sounds like McDonough is board.
And recently, cornerstone player Devin Booker expressed sentiments about himself getting involved in the prospect evaluation process.
“When we bring in players, can I sit down and talk with them? I don’t want a say so in who we’re drafting or anything like that, that’s not my role. I just want to know what type of players we’re looking at .. because at the end of the day this is to determine all our future,” he said. “Players have a different feel then GMs have a different feel to somebody or an owner has a different feel to somebody, so I just want to sit down and get to know people. I might like more than one person. I mean I’m not going to have a say so, ‘I want you to draft him’ or anything like that, but I’d to participate a little bit in it.”
McDonough appears to be embracing that thought - that players should get to know the prospects, just like coaches and front office personnel do.
“As you guys know, we really placed an emphasis on character and culture, so we want to see how the guys mesh with the rest of our group,” McDonough said.
Predraft workouts begin in earnest this week - but we may not know about all of them as they are happening.
Curious who the Suns might visit for the 4th overall pick?
Want to read more about how our writers think the Suns should approach a draft with the 4th and 32nd picks?