T.J. Warren didn't receive much hype here before the draft. Adreian Payne, Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris were generally preferred choices, but Warren's list of achievements and potential as a 20-year old is impressive. The Suns landed themselves an elite scorer at #14 with "Scorin'" Warren.
Going into Thursday night's NBA Draft, Suns fans held high hopes for a franchise-changing trade, or draft pick, or both. Instead, the Suns hung onto their #14, #18 and #27 picks, and selected three players with impressive resumés.
Can any of those selections prove to be franchise-changers? Maybe not, but the Suns used their first selection on a big-time scorer from an elite NCAA conference in ACC Player of the Year T.J .Warren, a player who brings a skill set last season's team was missing.
The 2013-14 Suns were built around the 3-point shot. Their #8 finish in 3-point % and #2 finish in opponents' 3-point % were central to the team's 23 win improvement from the 2012-13 squad. Still, too often, the Suns' potent offense settled into an over-reliance on the 3 with a lack of other offensive options, and they lost leads in the process.
Markieff Morris displayed a solid, much-improved mid-range and post game, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe could finish at the basket well, but the Suns were in dire need of another threat closer to the paint. There's nothing wrong with shooting a lot of 3s in the modern NBA, but other options are essential for success.
Anthony "T.J." Warren specializes in getting looks from 15 feet and closer, then nailing them. In scoring 24.9 PPG last season at NC State, Warren made 58% of his 2-point attempts, and went to the FT line 6.5 times per game. He does this with a bag of tricks that includes nifty footwork and a killer floater. It won't be as easy to do what he does on the next level, but a lot of those slick moves will transfer just fine.
A diversification and expansion of the Suns' offensive arsenal will involve crafty players who can play close to the basket; Warren is that. The knocks on him are that he's a "tweener", and that he lacks the perimeter game to be an effective NBA small forward. I'm not buying either as a fatal flaw for this talented, hard worker.
Warren grew his game from the 5th leading scorer on his team as a freshman at 12.1 PPG into becoming the leader of last year's Wolfpack, by a country mile, at 24.9 PPG. Warren carried a weak team (his 31.3 PER was next followed by Jordan Vandenberg's 15.3) to the NCAA Tournament by scoring in every way imaginable.
While his usage rate rose from 19.5 to 35.5, his TS% dipped only slightly, from .638 to .574, despite Warren being the focus of every opponent's defense. This wasn't a quality NC State team outside of Warren. He was just about all they had going, and he produced enough to take them to the postseason, while Warren topped #2 pick Jabari Parker for ACC Player of the Year honors.
In Thursday night's press conference, both GM Ryan McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek expressed their intention that Warren is a pure SF, who could possibly play PF in small ball lineups, but no "tweener." The 6'8" (with shoes), 220 lb-er with a 6'10" wingspan would compete with P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris for playing time, assuming both those players return.
Warren's scoring abilities were deemed "elite" by McDonough, who said, "He has a unique ability to put the ball in the basket. He's got good size and strength, but more importantly, he has terrific instincts and a fantastic touch around the basket. We feel like he has a lot of the things you can't teach. He still needs to keep working on his outside shooting, but we think he has a chance to be a pretty special offensive player."
Hornacek addressed Warren's supposed defensive shortcomings by saying, "A lot of these guys are big scorers in college, I think the coaches are telling them 'don't get in foul trouble,' and they may look terrible defensively on tape, but then when you get them live and see....In one of our drills, it was a mix. One time he guarded a point guard, next time it was a forward, next time it was a center who tried to back him down. He stopped all three of them pretty easily."
A player who possesses great instincts, touch and a reputation for strong work ethic, as he lost weight and improved his conditioning between his freshman and sophomore seasons at NC State, Warren needs to continue to expand his range. Fortunately, he'll be coached by Hornacek, who maximizes his players' shooting abilities.
Warren may never be a 3-point sniper, but won't have to be when on the court with a playmaker and other floor-spacers. No, the Suns will need him to be what he is: A versatile, crafty scorer from all over the floor.
Welcome to Phoenix, T.J. Warren. You're exactly what the Suns need.
Any number of 20 different teams would likely love to have Eric Bledsoe. The only teams who don't want him would be those with All-Stars or young studs already in place.
But as of yet, no team has openly leaked interest in Bledsoe. Yes, I used the term "openly leaked" because that's how it is these days. Teams don't hold media scrums to list out their targets. They simply let someone know on the sly, via text or phone, who they want.
Or, the agents leak interested teams to media folks. Sometimes it's to drum up business, and sometimes it's lies, lies, and damn lies.
But still, there's been no outward word of who wants Bledsoe.
So let's just take a look at the landscape to see who can extend him an offer sheet in July. Remember, Bledsoe is a restricted free agent who will be courted via offer sheets by teams with enough cap room. Alternately, teams without enough cap room can initiate a trade with the Suns, as long as Bledsoe wants to sign with them and the Suns want the assets back.
For now, let's focus on the former - teams with cap room to make an out right offer sheet in early July. Teams who make an offer must have the open cap room to do so. Barring significant trades to shed salary, these are the only teams with enough open cap room on July to get his signature.
You will note that the recently-bereft Miami HEAT are not on this list. That is not an oversight. While all their players but Norris Cole and Chris Anderson have opted out, leaving "55 million in cap space", the HEAT have cap holds on all of them that they won't be renouncing. Cap holds on Wade, James and Bosh alone far exceed the cap. So no, the HEAT have 0 cap space for free agency unless the Big Three re-sign for the midlevel. And, they just drafted PG Shabazz Napier for LeBron.
Back to reality.
Out of that group with real cap space, only the Lakers, Mavericks, Pistons and Bucks could use an upgrade at point guard. The Toronto Raptors are close behind, at $10 mill of space. Of those five, only three teams appear to be "interesting" to a young feller like Bledsoe.
I mean really. Would YOU sign with a team in Detroit or Milwaukee unless you had no other options? I'd rather take a little less and work out a contract with Phoenix if those are my only bidders.
Nash is on the books for $9.7 million and has been adamant that he will not retire. However, the Lakers could conceivably convince someone to trade for him, but they would have to give something up to entice a team to take on Nash and all they have is Randle and their 2017 first round pick. Not happening.
Sure, the Lakers could use Bledsoe. But they just drafted Jordan Clarkson (purchased, from second round selection) who Kris Habbas had rated as high as 17th overall on his Big Board for nbadraftinsider.com and most outlets had Clarkson in the top 30 on their Boards. Along with PG Marshall still under cheap contract, the Lakers might prefer to fill their center and small forward positions first.
The Mavericks have the cap space and probably the inclination. The only thing holding them back is whether they really want to tie up money in a Bledsoe offer that the Suns might match while they pursue the same suspects that the Lakers want: LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Seems to me that Bledsoe will be waiting around for a few weeks to see who loses the James/Anthony race and then can only hope those teams turn their attention to him.
The Raptors are also shaded in red because they have close to the right amount of money and a free agent point guard (Kyle Lowry) who might be on the move. Also, the Raptors lost out on Tyler Ennis last week. Wouldn't it be ironic if it was Tyler Ennis that put the Suns in a bind on Bledsoe.
The Raptors could easily release John Salmons and add another $6 million to their cap space, giving them more than enough money to lure Bledsoe. They have a great cap situation, just won 48 games, and could really use Bledsoe to continue that hot run they started last year.
The downside for the Raptors is tying up money during free agency while the Phoenix Suns think about matching, and the Suns have told everyone they will match any reasonable offers.
Another downside for them is committing max money to Bledsoe. Their next biggest contract is DeMarr DeRozan, whose contract is under $10 million/year. Wouldn't they rather just re-sign Lowry for about what DeRozan makes and be done with it?
The Suns won't bid against themselves. It's not smart to outbid yourself, without knowing what the competition is. The beauty of restricted free agency is that no one can take your guy without your permission. They must either convince you to do a trade, or you have to refuse to match their offer.
The Suns have said all along that they will match any offer.
The only way I see that changing is if (a) Bledsoe begs to leave and (b) the Suns can get comparable value back in trade. No way the Suns take a "future first" or "future second" to agree to a sign-and-trade. No way they take back bad contracts. The Suns will want a booty worthy of Bledsoe.
I see Bledsoe being part of the secondary free agent market, and maybe not even hearing of a strong rumor until mid-July unless the Suns and Bledsoe come to a mutual agreement on a less-than-max contract to pre-empt the competition.
In a radio interview with John Gambodoro of Arizona Sports just before the 2014 Draft, Suns managing partner Robert Sarver expressed an expectation that the Suns would spend big this summer in free agency.
The Phoenix Suns enter the free agency period, which starts on July 1, with a ton of cap space available to spend on free agents this summer.
But with a limited talent pool from which to choose, do the Suns plan to spend it?
"Yeah I think we will spend it," said the man with the money, Managing Parter Robert Sarver told John Gambodoro on Thursday. "Hopefully we will spend a lot more than that."
--Arizona Sports (KTAR), on the Burns and Gambo show
Wait, what? How can you spend more than the the salary cap?
The only way to spend more than the cap is to keep Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker. Read on.
The Salary Cap Primer
For teams that are under the salary cap, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provides a ceiling of player salary commitments each year. For the purposes of signing new contracts, a team cannot spend more than that ceiling to sign a new player.
For example, if you have $10 in your pocket, you can't buy a new set of 'Beats by Dr. Dre' with cash. That's the idea of the cap. You can buy nine items off the dollar menu at McDonalds (because you have to figure in sales tax) but you can't buy nine Happy Meals.
Trades work the same way, You can't trade $10 for a $50 bill if all you have under the cap is $10. You can't even trade $10 for $10.10 if all you have under the cap is $10. The cap is the cap.
Fortunately, the NBA devised some loopholes called 'cap exceptions'. For teams who start the summer UNDER the cap, like the Phoenix Suns, there are only two exceptions at their disposal:
the 'Room' Exception, which is $2.5 million in first-year salary, available to those right at the cap
Let's talk about these further.
Named after the guy this exception was designed for, Larry Bird, this exception allows the incumbent team to re-sign its own free agent to a market-price salary without regard to the salary cap.
In other words, let's go back to that $10, and let's assume you were renting your 'Beats by Dr. Dre' for $100 per year. You would be allowed to renew that rental at that price, even though it's more than $10. You would not be allowed to buy a brand new set, but would be allowed to keep the old set at whatever the going rate.
Terrible analogy, I know, but it explains the point.
The Suns can re-sign those players at market prices, without regard to the cap. However, its not that easy.
Here's the trick. Before the players are re-signed, there is a 'cap hold' on them. The cap hold is a factor of their last contract, and is generally designed to be bigger than their market value. The idea here is so you're not allowed to buy those nine dollar menu items and THEN renew your lease on the Beats headphones. You're supposed to have to choose.
In Channing's case, his cap hold is bigger than anything he will get on the open market. So, the Suns will have to choose between him and another player or players.
But in Bledsoe and Tucker's cases, their cap holds are smaller than their market value. So the Suns don't have to choose. The Suns can spend a lot of money, and THEN re-sign them to deals bigger than their cap hold after having already signed other guy(s).
How much can they spend?
Spending right up to the cap
If the Suns decide to completely move on from all non-guaranteed players and all their free agents, they could spend as much as $36.14 million in first-year salaries for new players on the open market starting July 1. This would put them RIGHT AT the new cap, not exceeding it this year.
Note: this article talks mostly about free agents, but trades work the same way. Players change, but the cap doesn't. The net added salary from trades cannot exceed the total cap.
The Suns have nine players, including two draft picks, with guaranteed contracts in 2014-15. But those nine players only cost just over $30 million in 2014-15 thanks to mostly rookie-scale contracts.
To spend all that money on new players, the Suns would have to renounce their Bird Rights (ability to exceed cap to keep them) to all three of Bledsoe, Tucker and Frye. That's giving away three starters from last year's team, but if the Suns decide there are better options out there, they can do that.
So, if LeBron James says "hellz yeah, as long as you gimme the max and sign another big-name guy for the other 10 mil I don't want Bledsoe, Tucker or Frye", the Suns can say, "Cool, cool, cool. Let's do it!"
Exceeding the cap
But by keeping Bledsoe and/or Tucker, the Suns can spend more money than any other scenario.
"This would be a good year for us to do that," Sarver said, of exceeding the cap, "Given the situation with the cap holds. We have an opportunity with the right players to spend that."
--Arizona Sports (KTAR), on the Burns and Gambo show
Likely, even a LeBron James will want the Suns to be able to keep one or more of Bledsoe, Tucker and Frye.
The likely "working number" for the Suns, in order to retain their Bird Rights on all three guys, is just over $17 million.
That $17 million still gives them a lot of money to spend while retaining their ability to exceed the cap to re-sign Bledsoe, Tucker and Frye to salaries larger than their cap hold.
But it won't get you a max player.
However, there's no reason to think Frye will get more than $9.6 million in 2014-15 from ANY team, so it's quite possible the Suns will renounce his Bird Rights if they need more than $17 million in early July. They could still re-sign Frye, but just using whatever room is left under the salary cap at the time.
So, a reasonable number to sign some combination of new players AND Frye to market price would be just under $27 million, while retaining the right to exceed the cap Bledsoe and/or Tucker.
That's enough to sign LeBron James (for example) off the street and still come back after that and re-sign Tucker AND Bledsoe to market prices.
Or, the Suns could sign a couple of $10 million/yr free agents THEN re-sign Frye THEN Bledsoe AND Tucker, in that order.
And there's more!
Once the Suns have reached the cap with signings and/or trades, they will get access to this thing called the 'Room' Exception.
If they still don't have enough players under contract, they can sign spend up to another $2.5 million in salaries over and above what they've already spent.
Adding all these exceptions together, the Suns could end up having exceeded the cap by as much as $10 million per year.
Will they do it?
"You can't spend to spend," Sarver said, possibly recalling the summers of 2010 and 2012. "You've got to make sure get the right people in there. You can't use all your powder just to use it."
--Arizona Sports (KTAR), on the Burns and Gambo show
Sarver says he's learned some lessons the hard way over the years.
In 2005 and 2006, he let his interim GM, Mike D'Antoni, tell him to sell of more draft picks so they could spend money on veterans they ultimately didn't use
In 2007, he told his new GM (Steve Kerr) to dump little-used but expensive Kurt Thomas. The trade saved $18 million in cash, but cost the Suns two unprotected first round picks and began their decline
In 2008, he traded Shawn Marion for Shaquille O'Neal to try to recapture their title aspirations, and then dumped O'Neal a year later when the Suns went down hill.
It should be noted that during 2007-2010 the Suns were TOP 10 SPENDING team in the NBA. Over the luxury tax line every year. Sarver spent money, he just didn't spend the most of anyone and didn't always make the best decisions with the money.
In 2010, he let Amare Stoudemire go and tried to make up for it by overpaying a bunch of free agents. This after (reportedly) scrunching his front office budget so much his GM and Asst. GM walked. This after the Suns made the WCF.
At this point, he started to turn in a new direction...
From 2010-12, he started investing in the behind-the-scenes improvements for the team, including an advanced scouting and camera system for player tracking. He also ate some player contracts in order to move on from bad investments.
In 2012, he traded should-have-retired Steve Nash and Robin Lopez for draft picks. But instead of rebuilding entirely, he let his GM sign Michael Beasley and make a max contract offer to Eric Gordon. The team won only 25 games that year.
In 2013, the franchise was finally reborn. A good GM was put in place and the President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby had the cap sheet in order. Sarver ate Beasley's contract that summer as well.
Now in 2014, he's ready to spend again.
He says he's learned some lessons.
"Two big things I learned," he said to Gambo. "Sometimes if you have something really good, you think the grass is greener somewhere else. You try to get better but you also have the chance of getting worse in trying to get better."
His second lesson was interesting.
"How you look at situations always depends on what seat you personally sit in," he said. "As an owner, I'm better at balancing out the desires of the coach, the GM and the owner. Right now versus short term vs long term."
--Arizona Sports (KTAR), on the Burns and Gambo show
So now he understands that it's a delicate balance between improving the team and making it worse. And now he's ready to listen to a good front office giving him advice.
Let's see how this incredibly important summer unfolds.
The Bright Side of the Sun staff weighs in on how they think the Phoenix Suns did last night in the NBA Draft
The Phoenix Suns had a total of four selections in last night's draft and most would consider the first two to be somewhat of a surprise. Many members of the ginormous BSotS staff decided to put our reactions to the draft together in this roundtable.
From the second I saw Alec Brown's shooting stroke at the combine, I had a feeling the Suns were going to draft him. He should be a good rotation player as a stretch five once he develops in a few years.
Bogdan Bogdanovic - I didn't know much about him going into the draft (I'd seen maybe one video), but I like this pick for the Suns. He is a good shooter and passer at the wing, he also has defensive potential with his long 6'11" wing span. His biggest weakness is decision making which, will improve over time. He is a solid draft and stash type player for the Suns. He looks like he could contribute right away and will only get better with a year or two overseas.
I was high on Tyler Ennis during his playing days a Syracuse, but as draft day got closer I began to forget about him. I was a bit confused when the Suns called his name because the names Dragic and Bledsoe ran through my mind. But then a third name rolled through, Ish Smith and I smiled remembering why I was high on Ennis before. Ennis will be a great replacement and upgrade from Ish Smith as the backup point guard when Bledsoe or Dragic are sitting. He is also insurance in case either one of them get injured or if we don't resign Bledsoe or Dragic if he opts out in a year. Ennis is my favorite pick by the Suns in this draft. He is a good shooter and will continue to improve his shot over time. He has great court vision and is a winner, he wants to take the last shot. This dude has ice water running through his veins.
T.J. Warren was a surprising pick because I thought the Suns were going to draft him with their 18th pick, not the 14th. I would have rather had Gary Harris or Payne. I'm not sure how I feel about Warren, he fills a need in SF scoring for the Suns but does not have three point range... yet. Hopefully he works on his shot and defense and maybe he becomes a great pick by the Suns, it's just too early to know yet.
I wasn't terribly surprised by the TJ Warren pick, though I'm almost sure he would have been available at 18. Ennis is both surprising and worrying as, at least to my mind, it signals that one of our two guards from last season is on the way out. I'm also not convinced he was the best player remaining. Bogdanovic was a fine stash pick, even if I would have taken Damien Inglis myself, who went just 4 picks later. I love the Alec Brown pick, as I think, given time and opportunity, Brown is likely to be a contributor, if not an everyday starter.
The draft was totally underwhelming for me. I like TJ Warren, but I'm pretty sure he would have been there at 18. Would have liked Gary Harris at 14. I despise the Tyler Ennis pick, seems totally opposite of what I thought McDonough liked. Bogdan seems like a nice draft-and-stash. I was really hoping we would actually move up in the draft, but this felt like a typical Phoenix Suns draft night. I hope I'm wrong.
I was hoping for a Red Ryder carbine-action, 200 shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock... but instead I got a football. Ultimately, the Suns didn't care about winning last night (obviously) and have their sights set on winning this draft years from now, but it was still a monumental letdown.
Here's the skinny. Last night I was salivating over the prospect of a juicy, still slightly cool in the middle filet that I could cut with a fork (Suns wheel and deal, maybe move up and get a guy I really want). Somehow I ended up at Roscoe's Steak and Shake instead (the Suns did nothing). Not only that, but while I was looking at a few things that appeared to be passably edible on the menu the waitress (not sure why this is a girl instead of a guy, but this is my analogy) automatically brings out the "house special."
Now, I want to give the waitress (Ryan McDonough - kind of why it's weird this was a girl but stay with me) the benefit of the doubt because she's cute (because McMiracle), but I'm looking at the stuff on my plate and I'm not exactly jumping for my silverware.
10 and 11 were gettable, and the Suns definitely had the assets to go after them based on the trades that happened, but Phoenix stood pat. What they did, in my opinion, was draft players that were inferior to the players selected at both of those picks... even considering position. Who would you rather have? McDermott or Warren? Payton or Ennis? Not only that, but the Suns strayed from their strategy of drafting athletic two way players.
One of my favorite things about the draft last night was that out of all the profiles we wrote on this site... nobody did a profile on Warren. Apparently the Suns managed to pick the only guy that none of us was excited enough to write about... Pretty hard for me to feign excitement now.
I'm not trying to be vituperative here, because draft grades are kind of stupid (I'll give mine in a second here), but the night was just intensely insipid. Maybe the house special will end up kicking ass, but this is Roscoe's Steak and Shake.
I invite Warren and Ennis to do Roscoe proud, kick all kinds of ass this season, and make a clip video next summer where they ridicule excerpts of this draft critique.
This Suns draft reminded me a lot of last year. Ben McLemore and Nerlens Noel both slipped to #5, but the Suns were set on Alex Len regardless. Gary Harris slipped past his consensus overall rank twice for the Suns, but they went with TJ Warren and Tyler Ennis. I consider both slight reaches and with a really good two-way player like Harris slipping I was not a fan of the value the Suns got at 14 and 18. That's the main storyline for me about this draft, although I do like both players like last year as well.
Warren's tweener concerns with shooting, defending, and rebounding are all legitimate in my opinion and they worry me. He's an exceptional scorer though and that would add even more firepower to the Suns bench. The two questions with that though are is Warren going to be that much better than Marcus Morris and did the Suns really need another scorer off the bench? Ennis gives the Suns a pure point to run the second unit at the very least. He will be able to find everyone in their spots quickly with his great ball movement while consistently getting into the key as well. He has superb court vision and understands the way defenses operate. Everyone is skeptical because of the Kendall Marshall comparisons, but trust me when I say the two are not the same. Bogdan Bogdanovic could wind up being the best player for this Suns class when he eventually comes over, as his cunning play on the floor with terrific shooting will be welcomed. A stretch 5 like Alec Brown makes no sense to me when the Suns clearly need another banger and Patric Young was still available.
Trust the system is my overall impression of this draft. While their were some other players I would have preferred from both a value and preference standpoint, the Suns picked four very unique players so McDonough must have something planned for them all
Like Garrett, I was a little underwhelmed with the Suns' draft, mainly because of the value as Kellan mentioned. I don't hate either of the players selected at 14 and 18, but I don't love them either, particularly because I'm not sure they were the best value at their spot or the best fit for the direction the Suns appeared to be headed in.
Warren's profile as a tweener forward who doesn't shoot well from 3-point range and does his damage mid-range and in doesn't appeal to me very much, regardless of how many points he scored. I thought Gary Harris and Adreian Payne both would end up being better NBA players and both were still there for the taking. However, after taking another look at him and hearing what Ryan McDonough and Jeff Hornacek had to say, I'm at least a bit more optimistic that he will work out as an off-ball slasher playing off the Slash Brothers' penetration with the starters and more of an on-ball scorer with the second unit. He's going to have to become much more selective with his shots and prove the defensive effort he showed in workouts can be a consistent part of his game.
The Suns needed another point guard as insurance if Eric Bledsoe signs elsewhere or gets hurt again next season, but Tyler Ennis is a confusing choice in that role for me. Ennis is a pure point guard, excellent at taking care of the ball, finding his teammates and running an offense in general. However, he isn't a dynamic player or a good scorer at all, which is why I don't see him as a good plug-and-play option to step in for Bledsoe; he's a completely different kind of player. Best case scenario, Dragic and Bledsoe both stick around and are healthy. In that case, he's an upgrade over Ish Smith for sure, but I don't know how much I like using the 18th pick on a third string point guard. This pick just confuses me more than anything else.
I like the Bogdan Bogdanovic pick. Watching this highlight video has me convinced that he's a 6'6", right-handed version of Goran Dragic. As for Alec Brown, I'm indifferent. Why not take the 7-foot 3-point shooter that late in the draft and send him overseas to develop?
When the Suns first picked T.J. Warren at #14, I was a bit shocked because I was expecting more of a perimeter shooting wing. Originally, I think the Suns were going to draft Zach LaVine, even Gambo tweeted out they were waiting to take him when there were only two picks before us. But When Minnesota took LaVine right before our pick, I think they went with a completely different player. A natural scorer who doesn't depend on perimeter shooting to put up points...and who scores them by the boat load.
My biggest concern with Warren was his defense, and how the Suns would use him in their system that relies on the drive-and-kick to perimeter shooters. But after I heard Hornacek discuss his impressive defense at the Suns workout, and how he believed that to be a symptom of his coach trying to keep him out of foul trouble, along with how they planned to use him in the offense, it made a lot of sense. I'm fully on board with Warren, and think he will be a fan favorite with his unique scoring ability in no time.
As for Tyler Ennis, I was shocked we didn't go with Gary Harris, who I believed was an excellent fit with his three-point shooting and defense. There must be a reason we declined taking him even at 18. Perhaps they just had Ennis graded higher...they certainly seem to believe he can develop into big-time play-maker and a clutch shooter/scorer for the Suns. I'm still a little less enamored with this selection than with Warren, but I do think Ennis has a chance to be very good. He gives the Suns a pure point guard who has the ability to run the offense and shoot from all over the floor. I do think Ennis will be a solid edition to the team, so my aprehension has more to do with who we passed up than who we took.
Oh yeah, and Bogdan Bogdanovic was a steal at #27. He is one of the best players in Europe, and rumor has it that the Spurs were very interested in him at #30 as well...Even better.
Keith M. Scheessele
From bottom to top, strictly to be contrarian.
I've no reason to disagree that the Bogdan Bogdanovic and Alec Brown picks were good gets. Admittedly, I was a little more jazzed (pun intended) at the prospect of nabbing Jarnell Stokes, a banger who ultimately went to Utah at #35, with the #27 pick. What impresses me most about the Bogdanovic reel is his quick release and the ability to get off the creative shot. As far as fitting into an offensive scheme is concerned, Bogdanovic landed in the right spot.
At #18 I've been big on Adrien Payne all along, as I think many Suns fans have been. There was always a concern that he would go earlier, though I think we were all a little surprised that he went to Atlanta, who already has depth at the 4. That said there was considerable drop off in my mind after Payne for a Payne-esque player. I think Oklahoma City at #21 reached on Mitch McGary. With Payne gone at #18, I would've preferred Gary Harris, but I have no beef with the Tyler Ennis pick. Ennis is a true point guard who I think will benefit greatly learning from Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, both who bring different skill sets to the position. I love that he's already hit big, clutch shots at Syracuse, and isn't afraid to have the ball in his hand with the game on the line.
#14 is where I would've drafted Payne with fear he'd be gone by #18. At it is at #13 we took a 6-foot-7 225 pound ACC player of the year. That's not T.J. Warren, it's Jared Dudley. I'm higher on this pick than most. Warren is 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, and I think has the potential to add a Dudley like presence into a Suns team that in 2013 traded away one of its two most valuable assets and somehow made it out ok on the other side. A little toughness, a little sharper on the defensive side of the ball, and it could be like we never lost Dudley at all. It's not the sexy pick, but it's underappreciated at this point. Savvy move, Suns.
East Bay Ray
I went into this draft with no expectations at all. McDonough stated a desire to move up for quality instead of quantity, but that's easier said than done because teams in the top 10 wanted to hold their picks in this highly acclaimed draft. Sitting tight and taking the players they liked was a real possibility, and that's what happened. It's not necessarily a negative, as long as the Suns got value with their picks.
Warren and Ennis seem to be at odds with the McDonough draft model since they lack top-end athleticism. The perception is that pure athleticism is what gives players high ceilings, but it's more than that. Does a player have a foundation of basketball skills to grow, and can they shore up their weaknesses, while possessing an acceptable level of athleticism? McD wan't simply going to draft one superb athlete lacking a jump shot after another, hoping Hornacek would teach them to shoot, but that is the impression some Suns fans had.
Warren and Ennis are high IQ players, known for their leadership and character. Each was productive in college, Warren tremendously so. If the Morrii, Tucker and Frye all return (very iffy), it's hard to see where Warren fits in the rotation this coming season, but Ennis should be able to play right away as Ish Smith's replacement. It was reported the Suns were shopping their #27 pick for a future pick. They didn't make such a deal, but Bogdanovic is essentially a future pick because he won't leave Europe for the NBA for a year or two. Our European fans here have favorable things to say about his game. Alec Brown is a decent, long-term developmental stretch big man.
I like this draft for the Suns. For those who had expectations of trading up for someone else, there's no way of knowing what was possible, or what the cost would have been. Instead, they took a more conservative route, and we'll have to hope they hit on at least one or two of these players. I'm confident they will.
I was fairly stunned by the banality of the Suns' draft. I think like everyone else I was expecting more of a splash. I wasn't into T.J. Warren or Tyler Ennis pre-draft, but the picks are growing on me. Warren will hopefully add some offensive punch to a second unit that's prone to stagnation and Ennis similarly will be an upgrade at facilitator over the assumedly dearly departed Ish Smith.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, in addition to having the best name in the world, seems like a great draft-and-stash prospect from what I'm hearing from our Euro readers. Alec Brown is obviously the steal of the draft and I look forward to seeing him dominate the league for years to come.
You can argue the Suns' coulda/shoulda/woulda addressed other needs, most specifically power forward. The Markieff Morris/Channing Frye combo (assuming Frye re-signs) isn't exactly broke, but no ones going to argue a little fixing might not hurt. The draft is just part of an off-season that has yet to enter free agency. Remember when Caron Butler was sitting courtside at the Suns' Summer League games last year, but tipped off the season as a Buck? Patience, y'all, there's probably more to come. Unless there isn't.
What do I think about the draft? Well, a lot of things actually. But I don't want to take away from what awesome takes of these guys above. (Actually, I have a selfish plan of piecing out my thoughts in different articles over the next couple weeks, after doing some research)
On the high level, I was as mystified as anyone with the T.J. Warren pick, simply because I knew so little about him and when I looked he wasn't a three-point shooter. Wait, what? The Suns take a guy who can't shoot threes? Oh yeah, Archie couldn't shoot either. P.J. couldn't shoot. Goran couldn't shoot (lately). Markieff still can't do it very well. Yet every single shooter on the team improved over the course of the year.
Except Ish. Which brings me to Tyler Ennis. If nothing else, Ennis is better than Ish on the court. Is he better in the locker room? That remains to be seen. Over the next day or so, I'm going to do some research on the differences between Ennis and Kendall Marshall, just to set my own fears to rest. But really, the big difference will have to coachability. Marshall didn't have it. Will Ennis?
I know nothing of Bogdan Bogdanovic, so I leave that to our Euro brethren who all seem to love him. Good enough for me.
Alec Brown could potentially be a player, but he's not right now. Give him time.
Overall Grade: B-
But if everyone in this draft class is as coachable as last year's team, this group might eventually earn an A.
What is YOUR grade for the Suns draft?
Vote, but also add your grade in the comments section so we can look back on this in a year and laugh, or nod our heads in satisfaction.
The draft ended less than 24 hours ago, but the Suns are already moving on to free agency.
The Suns were one of the biggest surprises of the 2013-14 NBA season, going from the bottom of the West to the doorstep of the playoffs. Eric Bledsoe - who the Suns acquired from the Clippers before the season began - and P.J. Tucker - who the Suns plucked from Summer League two years ago - were two of the key parts of that turnaround, and now both are restricted free agents.
General Manager Ryan McDonough has maintained all along that both players are included in the Suns' plan for the future, and the Suns took the first step towards making that happen on Friday as the team has announced that it extended qualifying offers to both players.
This means that the Suns now have the right to match any offer sheets the players sign with other teams. The Suns cannot officially start conversations with the players' agents about re-signing with the team until July 1, but this does mean the team has control over both players when free agency begins.
Bledsoe and Tucker are both quality players that could have multiple suitors come July, and if either one or both of the players sign a big offer sheet, the Suns could have a difficult decision on their hands.