There is always the argument every year for teams to draft the best available player (BPA) or take the best player at a position of need. Most lottery teams have needs across the board leading to the concept of BPA and then other teams, playoff teams, are privy to drafting a need to continue along their current success.
The Phoenix Suns are in the position of the former.
Last season the Suns were not a particularly talented bunch which is what led to the second worst season in the franchises history. The group was falsely labeled as a playoff threat with the additions of Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, and Michael Beasley. Those three were supposed to replace the production lost leading the team back to contention. Instead they faltered at nearly every position.
According to data collected via 82games.com the Suns were not particularity strong at any position last year.
The net production for point guard (-2.6) was good for 26th best in the NBA with Dragic leading the way and Sebastian Telfair, Kendall Marshall, and Diante Garrett shouldering the load. With Dragic and Marshall both young and before their prime that is a position with potential to grow in house.
At the shooting guard position (-3.3) was the worst position on the team led by Shannon Brown, Wesley Johnson, and others filling in the position that was good for 28th in the league. Only three teams had worse overall units at the two.
Adding help in the backcourt is a major need and an option in this years draft class with Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, C.J. McCollum, and others showing strong promise as prospects. All are options at No. 5 for the Suns if they go with the concept of BPA this year. That is a clear and popular option among experts as well as the fans.
The front-court was a strong point for the team last season from the small forward, power forward, and center positions.
Jared Dudley, P.J. Tucker, and Beasley were the primary threes last year year (+0.3) good for 12th in the league. At power forward Scola, Markieff Morris, and Marcus Morris were capable (-1.2), combining to be the 19th best unit in the league.
Looking at prospects such as Otto Porter Jr, Anthony Bennett, and even Cody Zeller would provide an upgrade at the forward positions.
Odds are that the consensus Top Four players to NBA teams will be gone before the Suns are on the clock. If Nerlens Noel, McLemore, Porter Jr, and Oladipo are all gone, which direction does the team go?
Center becomes the most intruiging position for the Suns as they were about average (+0.3) good for 13th in the league. Marcin Gortat, Jermaine O'Neal, and Hamed Haddadi were a good unit defensively, but to be frank, there is not much potential for that group to grow as a whole. O'Neal is on his last legs while Haddadi is very limited as a player.
Here is the theory. Gortat is a very good center, but the odds of him remaining a member of the Suns long-term at the age of 29 is far-fetched.
Gortat is a part of the present, but not likely the future of the organization so bringing in a suitable "replacement" for the team going forward has to be an attractive option with the talent in this years draft. The NBA Draft is about projecting the team two to three years out and how the pieces would fit in contending in conference and for a championship. This years crop of centers all have potential to be build with.
Whether it be a potential all-around talent like Alex Len of Maryland or a raw defensive talent like Rudy Gobert of France the centers are as good this year as any other year.
With the potential of the 2014 NBA Draft in the distance adding a center now (next years class is average so far) to learn the ropes from Gortat for a year while building the proper strength for the paint at the next level is ideal. Both Len and Gobert are projects and will require patience as they get stronger and learn the NBA game, but each have the potential to be game changers in this league.
As we saw this year the league still has room for the throw-back centers that over the years had become a "dying breed." Three of the final four teams in this years playoffs all have a center that dictates the pace of the game in the paint. Can Len or Gobert become as effective as Roy Hibbert, Tiago Splitter, or Marc Gasol? Time will tell, but the potential is there.
With the lure of the 2014 NBA Draft in the air and potential superstars on the horizon adding a piece like Len or Gobert allows the team to continue the slow, methodical rebuild towards contention.
Winning a lottery is a crap shoot as the team with the best odds also has a 75% chance of losing as well. Banking on the lottery to get Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker is the logic of a video game general manager.
Banking on the logic of being a bottom five team again next season however is not. Building piece-by-piece with a center now and a great wing next year is a route to consider. Is this the avenue the team will take, potentially, but regardless it is a viable Plan B if all four of the top prospects are gone. Does the team go BPA or add a position of need that may at the end of the day be the best building block for the future?