Phoenix Suns president of basketball operations and general manager James Jones is notorious— infamous, even— for holding his cards close to the vest. While I respect it to no end, it can be irritating trying to cover him and his plans as part of the media, especially around draft time. There’s just so much we still don’t know.
I even asked the team directly about a week ago whether they would let us know about any draft workouts or anything like that as many teams do, and they told didn’t have anything then and didn’t expect to at any point before the draft.
It’s totally their right and I wasn’t expecting anything different, but it still makes our job a little harder, because it forces us to rely on agent reporting and players self-reporting their workouts, like on Instagram stories or otherwise.
There are four — count ‘em, FOUR — pre-draft workouts we know about so far, sorted by their ESPN ranking including notes about their availability (only 58 draftees this year; Chicago and Philadelphia each forfeited second-round picks due to free agency tomfoolery):
50. Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan scoring wing who measured in at 6’8.25 (without shoes), 179.2 pounds, and a 6’9 wingspan
Availability: I imagine there’s a good chance he’s still on the board when the Suns pick at 52. He’s the type of chance I wouldn’t mind taking despite the concerns (struggles with playmaking and defense, plus had a gun charge that was dropped between freshman and sophomore seasons) because of how electric the upside is.
81. Markquis Nowell, Kansas State point guard who stands at 5’8, 160 with a 6’0 wingspan
Nowell should be there after 58 picks to sign undrafted. Teams are always concerned with size, especially when the player is literally my size, but Nowell’s game is much bigger than he is, already doing unprecedented things like breaking the single-game assist record during Kansas State’s March Madness run, losing by three in the Elite 8.
n/a. Desmond Cambridge Jr., Arizona State combo guard standing at 6’4, 180 with an unreported-but-definitely-at-least-plus-’3 wingspan
Desmond Cambridge Jr is a 6'4, 24-year-old G/W from Arizona State who profiles as a tough bucket-getter at the next level. He started his career at Brown before playing two years at Nevada and eventually finishing his career with the Sun Devils. The size+touch+funk combo is fun pic.twitter.com/e9hlknXvrR— Bryce Hendricks (@BryceHendrick14) June 5, 2023
Be sure to check out the full thread from my good pal, Bryce, where he points out how and why Cambridge should be enticing to NBA teams. And I’m sure there’s a lot of overlap between Suns fans and people who vividly remember Cambridge’s three-quarter-court shot to beat rival Arizona in Tucson, whether positively remembering or negatively.
His appeal goes beyond that play, though his age — 24.5 by draft day — will certainly scare teams off. I love his team defense especially, and he could be a good long-term project for the Suns’ G League program, whenever that’s up and running.
n/a. Tanner Groves, Oklahoma big profiling at 6’10 240 with an unreported wingspan
wanted to get a quick feel for oklahoma center tanner groves after he worked out for the suns earlier in the week.— damon allred (@iamdamonallred) June 9, 2023
the 6-10, 240-pound 24-year old might remind some of jock landale, though groves has the potential to be more dynamic on both ends.
here's a quick thread:
Another full thread to check out, I include about four minutes worth of film broken up by offense and defense. He’s certainly slow by NBA standards, but if the Suns can set up guys like Frank Kaminsky and Jock Landale for success, then Groves should be no different.
The bar to clear is so low when it comes to undrafted signings, because the risk is so low. They usually don’t take up a real roster spot and if they do, it’s on a minimum deal that doesn’t affect the cap.
James Jones is yet to sign a player undrafted on the night of the draft and bring that player into camp two or three months later, but in an offseason where the Suns project to have so few tools for roster maneuvering, this could be the draft where he signs his first, especially when comparing the spending habits of Robert Sarver and Mat Ishbia.
Basically, what I’m getting at is I’m easy to please at this point. Give myself and the other draft nerd fans something to hope for about the long-term future and development on this roster.
Plus, we’ll talk again soon about the prospects the Suns might be looking at ahead of pick 52 in another trade-up check-in.