Very few of the prospects the Suns worked out this week will be among the 60 players selected on June 21 in Brooklyn. That wasn’t really the point, but if the hope is to find G League development projects or two-way players, it looks as if shooting is a key skill Phoenix will target this summer.
Between John Konchar, Josh Reaves and Fletcher Magee, three of the top shooting specialists in the draft came through Talking Stick Resort Arena this week to work with coach Monty Williams and meet with the Suns’ front office.
Konchar was a career 41.6 percent three-point shooter in four seasons at Purdue-Fort Wayne, though shot only a 69.7 percent from the free throw line.
Konchar said Thursday that he models his game after shooters like Bucks wing Pat Connaughton and Kirk Hinrich. He said he respected how both shooters developed the rest of their games to stick around in the league.
Reaves is not quite on the other guys’ level as a shooter, but improved drastically into a 36.5 percent in his junior and senior seasons at Penn State. The upperclassman combines solid shooting with a 4.5 steal percentage and 3.2 block percentage, showing Reaves’ defensive playmaking ability. He would be more of a two-way, 3-and-D option compared with Konchar and Magee.
No one in the class can touch Magee’s shooting. He fell apart a little bit in the NCAA tournament as his proclivity for taking unnecessarily tough threes hurt him, but the four-year Wofford guard was one of the best shooters in the class his whole time at school. Magee shot 43.5 percent from three and 90.8 percent from the free throw line.
As a team, the Suns made fewer than one third of their total threes last year and had the worst efficiency in the NBA. They were also in the league’s bottom 10 for three-point rate, or the proportion of their total shots that came from deep. Several players, such as Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges, suffered as a result of the lack of spacing and cohesion within the offense.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Suns are using the pre-draft process to get eyes on some of the draft’s top shooters. They might not have the chance to draft them in June, but guys with one set skill like shooting have to be seen as more likely to stick in the NBA than raw, athletic projects like Shaquille Harrison.
As Konchar mentioned with regard to longevity in the NBA, Connaughton and Hinrich are case studies in how to round out your game to stick around. Betting on someone like Konchar, Reaves or Magee to develop in the G League is a great way to approach the developmental league based on the team’s weaknesses in recent years.