The Phoenix Suns have had most every draft hopeful on their practice court in the last two weeks, but conspicuously missing are the draft's consensus top 8, from Andrew Wiggins to Aaron Gordon.

The Phoenix Suns have hosted 60 players in the past two weeks, all in the 10-to-infinitum range of the upcoming NBA Draft on June 26.

Bringing in Nick Stauskas later this week or next week won't tip the scales either.

Holding the 14th, 18th and 27th picks in the first round and just a year removed from a 25-57 season, many thought the Suns would try to parlay those picks into a Top 10 selection by draft night.

General Manager Ryan McDonough said as much early in the Pre-Draft Workout process, indicating that the Suns could move anywhere they wanted to go in the Draft "except the top, top end." Presumably, that meant the top 3-5, which is pretty impossible to do while holding no pick guaranteed better than 14.

Today, he said it again with Bright Side's Sean Sullivan in attendance.

"We're trying to get all of the top guys," he said. "Like we've talked about before, what we'd consider doing for the right player is packaging picks to moving up in the draft."

But the players' agents in the consensus Top 10 don't hold the same trust in McDonough's ability, and have not scheduled their prized prospect for a group workout in Phoenix.

"We've had some issues getting the top 7 or 8 guys in, at least," McDonough said to me after Monday's workout. "Their agents do the math, and think if they're solidly in the top 10 why go to a team with the 14, 18 and 27th picks. because time is limited."

It's not like the Suns rolled over on this. They've worked the phones, but the highest rated prospect to visit the valley has been Gary Harris, whose been mocked as high as #9 overall but usually falls in the 11-14 range on Big Boards. Adreian Payne, who visited last Friday, has been mocked as high as 10. Zach LaVine is still in NBADraft.net's Top 10 pick, but has mostly settled into the mid first round in recent mocks. Rumor has it Nick Stauskas will visit in the coming days. Stauskas is mocked in the 9-14 range on various sites.

"We've tried," McDonough said. "We've gotten a few guys that might go in the top 10. The mock drafts don't always go according to plan, as you know. So, I guess we've done the best we can. We'd like to see them all but we get who their agents are willing to send us."

But wouldn't the agents, knowing the Suns have multiple picks, want to get their player in front of McDonough and Babby to entice them to trade into the Top 10 to take their guy? As an agent, you'd think you'd like to increase your chances of a sure Top 10 pick by not only visiting the teams who currently have those picks but also those who might get them.

But no such luck.

"I think with the agents," he explained to me, "I don't know if they say it or they think it, but it's ‘get that pick in the top 10 and then come talk to me'. Time is limited. They look at the board. Instead of sending a guy to a team who MIGHT get in the top 10, let's send him to a team that HAS a top 10."

So who cares?

You would think that with all the film available these days, as well as the scouting trips made all season and in prior seasons, a team doesn't need that private workout time right before the draft to know if they want to draft a player.

But it's actually the opposite.

"We want to get them in here," McDonough said early in the process. "To see how they've developed and what they've been working on since their season's ended. Also see what kind of condition they're in and have them get a lot of shots up. Put them in some different situations that they may not have been put in with their college or international teams.

"It's a bit of all that, but most importantly for us to get to know them a little more and spend some time with them and get to see where they are as players."

Rarely does an NBA team draft a player that wouldn't visit them before the draft. Sure, it's happened. San Antonio drafted Kawhi Leonard without ever having had him visit because they didn't have a pick in his range.

But more often, those blind picks are too much of a crapshoot. The interview process is all-important. You need to know what makes a guy tick, how they react to pressure, how they fit into your environment. Success in the NBA is very dependent on "fit". A player can be talented but if he doesn't interact well with the coaches or fit into the team's scheme, it's tough to find true success.

"At the end of the day," McDonough said last week. "The most important thing is talent usually wins out if it's combined with work ethic and character."

You don't learn about work ethic and character from film.

"To see them on tape it's sometimes hard to tell," coach Hornacek said last week after a workout. "There's a difference when you watch it on tape then you get to see them live. Quickness is one thing...sometimes they may look slow on tape and you get them out here and you say oh, that guy's got pretty good quickness. So I like the workouts."

McDonough and Hornacek have said in many different ways over the past two pre-draft seasons that seeing a guy compete on their floor, doing their drills is highly important to the process. And they've both said that the interview process - be it a sit-down panel or a lunch with the coaches - can sometimes tell you more than the film ever did.

Impact on the draft

Just to get into the Top 10 would probably take the #14 and either next year's Laker's pick (protected only Top 5) or multiple lower first-round picks. It might even take a player the Suns don't want to trade, like a Goran Dragic or Markieff Morris or Alex Len. Or all of the above.

I have a hard time imagining the Suns trading all those assets to get into the Top 10 to draft, say, Aaron Gordon or Doug McDermott or Julius Randle when those guys didn't even take the time to visit the valley.

All those guys are slightly in danger of dropping on draft night due to questions or holes in their games, but they refused to make the trek to Phoenix so far. Why would the Suns draft them?

Sure, the Suns may have "fallen in love" with someone from watching tape or a scouting visit and may have decided to mortgage whatever it takes to get into position to draft them. But does Ryan McDonough strike you as that type of maverick? Does he strike you as a guy willing to ignore his principles on a whim?

Not to me. That is, unless they can magically get into the Top 5 or 7 and Dante Exum or Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid is sitting on the board.

I think if the Suns move up it's to draft either Gary Harris or Zach LaVine, guys who have visited the Valley, or someone they sat down to interview at the NBA Draft Combine in late May. The players the Suns got sit-down time with has not been released, but we do know it included purported top 10 picks Dante Exum and Marcus Smart.

Maybe there's private workouts on the horizon that tips the scales, but why would Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid secretly visit Phoenix? What's the value in that?

Strengths The son of Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson expectedly has the physical profile of an elite NBA small forward. He is 6-foot-7 with a wingspan approaching 6-foot-10, and Robinson’s...

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Today's Suns workout was headlined by Jordan Clarkson, and a handful of free agent hopefuls.

Today, the Suns workout featured Jordan Clarkson (PG/SG, Missouri),  and a group of seniors who are mostly free agent hopefuls, and likely to go undrafted.

Jordan Clarkson is an athletic combo guard from Missouri.  He is a very skilled ball-handler who can create shots for himself and his teammates.  Clarkson has an ability to get to the rim off the dribble using his athleticism, or hit pull-up shots from anywhere on the court.   Jordan measures about 6' 5" in shoes, which is about average for a combo guard, and he has a nice wingspan of 6' 8" to help in that regard.  His athleticism is his biggest strength, with a 38.5" max vertical and a 10.79 second lane agility, he is one of the most athletic guards in the draft.  his biggest negative is his shooting.  Clarkson shot only 28% from three last season, though he shot nearly 37% from three the prior season.  Still, his inconsistency from the field is an area of his game he will have to work on.

Another familiar face and name who showed up today was David Stockton, the son of Hall of Fame point guard and Utah royalty John Stockton.  While he averaged only 7 points and 4 assists as a senior at Gonzaga, he is worth mentioning based on the strong family ties he has with Suns' coach Jeff Hornacek, who he not only grew up around and played with his kids, but was also coached by on his AAU basketball team as a kid.

The other notable name today was Richard Solomon, a 6'11" power forward from the University of California who averaged 11 points and 10.2 rebounds as a senior.  He was the top rebounder in the Pac-10, and the 13th best in the nation.  Comparatively, Jarnell Stokes was 11th with 10.5, and Julius Randle was 7th with 10.5.  Solomon is an efficient scorer near the basket where his length and athleticism come into play, but he is not a comfortable or confident scorer beyond it.  While he is certainly a work in progress offensively, he could be a great value in the late second round, or if he goes undrafted, with a lot of sought after physical attributes and skills.

Here is the full list of today's participants:

Prospect Profiles:

Interviews:

Ryan McDonough on Today's Players

On Jordan Clarkson

"Jordan is a good athlete at that size.  He's got good length.  He shoots the ball a little better than his percentages would indicate.  His stroke looked good out here today.  He's a talented player.  He's got, physically, everything you could hope for.  The ability to do a little bit of everything, I think is what stands out about him.  He shoots the ball, he passes pretty well, and he rebounds pretty well.  He's got the length to defend.  It's not like we look for a guy who's just a point guard or just a shooter.  The best players can do a little bit of everything."

On David Stockton

"He's been in the spotlight his whole life.  His passing ability really stood out today.  You can tell he's grown up around the game, and he has a great feel for the game.  He's obviously a little limited physically.  He's a little bit small and light, but he makes up for that with intelligence, smarts, intelligence, toughness, and passing ability.  He played well today.  He was one of the better passers we've had in throughout the workout process.  He's competitive and effective.  His ability to run a team...run pick and rolls, and put guys in shots today was pretty impressive."

On Richard Solomon

"Rebounding is one of those things that tends to hold up.  We study that a decent amount, analytically.  If you can rebound at a high major college level like he did at Cal, that's something that usually translates.  He's an athletic guy, he's got good size and moves pretty well. I think he's still developing his offensive game.  But his stroke's not broken.  I was impressed with how he stepped out and made a few shots today.   He has the physical package, the question is if he can put it all together and keep developing offensively."

On Davante Gardner

"He's a pretty skilled offensive player, he's pretty efficient.  He's heavy, but he's got good feet and good hands.  He has a really soft touch around the basket.  he's a good free-throw shooter.  He looked good today, especially one-on-one on the block.  He's tough to stop when he gets his body into the defender.  He spins pretty well and uses either hand...He's a guy that stats wise was pretty efficient in limited minutes at Marquette.



Ryan McDonough on Draft Process

On workouts and draft preparation

"We try not to base too much on workouts.  We think film study is important.  We try to avoid recency bias of being swayed by the last thing we saw.  So we try to go back and look at the course of a guy's career, especially in the last year and see how he did in games. The draft is on June 26th, and free agency starts on July 1st, so there's not a lot of time in between, so we're trying to prepare for both simultaneously, and I think the next week and a half will allow us to do that."

On scheduling top draft prospects.

"We're trying to get all of the top guys.  Like we've talked about before, what we'd consider doing for the right player is packaging picks to moving up in the draft.  Some agents believe that and might be willing to send their guys.  Most agents say just call us when you have the higher pick and we'll come in then.  We're working on eight or ten guys...I'm sure you can figure out who they are by who we haven't had in."

On importance of workouts

"It's important that we have a lot of information about a player.  Having them in for workouts helps a lot.  We get to interview them, we get to spend some time with them, and obviously we get to see them play for an hour. But if there is a guy who's good enough, we're not going to be foolish or reckless about it and say we absolutely won't take anyone who doesn't come in.  It does help guys to come in some times like it did with Archie Goodwin last year.  I think he really helped himself.  There's a reason we moved up in the draft to get him was in addition to what he did at Kentucky, the two impressive workouts he had here.  so it helps, but we'll take whoever the best players are."


Jeff Hornacek

On history with David Stockton

"My three kids' ages correlates with three of John (Stockton's) kids.  I coached these guys and watched them grow up.  David was a guy that you could see back in fourth grade that he had a good feel for the game.  He knows how to play and makes great passes and he showed that today.   Obviously (his lack of) size will be tough for him, but he knows how to play.  I coached him from 4th to 7th or 8th grade.  Obviously David picked up the game fast having John probably team him a lot of these things. You could see the point guard ability."

On Jordan Clarkson

"He's got good size, good length, and athletic ability.  Probably what they say is he'll be a first round pick.  He'll really be able to contribute to a team.  He's a tough kid and he really understands how to play too.  He's really worked on (his shooting).  That's a hard thing to do is to change your form and still knock shots in, and he did that today.  You want a guy that can play both (guard positions). Jordan has the ability to play the one and he can play the two also."



Jordan Clarkson

On Suns workout

"This was probably the toughest workout I've been through.  A lot of up-and-down stuff...everything was full-court. it was a high-intensity workout."

On Suns' style of play

"I feel most comfortable with a up-tempo, up-and-down game.  We kind of played something similar at Missouri, with screen-and-roll and stuff like that, so I fell like I can fit right in."

On NBA role

I'm a point guard.  I had a dominant roll scoring at Missouri, so you really didn't get to see any of my play-making abilities.  but I'm a point guard coming into this draft.  But I can play the two, I can guard the two or the three, and I'm versatile on the defensive end as well."

On improving shot

"I watched a lot of film and worked with two guys after the season that really got my shot up and reconstructed it.  I got a higher release point not twisting so much with my hips, and finishing with two fingers. I'm real comfortable from the NBA three.  I feel like I'm shooting better from the NBA three than from closer.  I'm just continuing to try and shoot the ball consistently. "


David Stockton

On ability to play in the NBA

"I like to push it.  I like to run and play fast...play defense and make plays.  I think (my style) would carry over well."

On what he learned from his dad

"His professionalism, and the attitude he had and his love of the game."

On relationship with Hornacek

"Jeff was my coach for the knights when I was in 3rd and 4th grade, so he's taken a step up from that. (laughs)"


Richard Solomon

On potential role

"Maybe a defensive energy guy, rebound the ball, an opportunistic scorer.  I think like Taj Gibson when he first came into the league.  He was a little bit raw, more of a defensive and rebounding guy.  I think my numbers are pretty much the same.  I look at him and think I can definitely develop into a player of that caliber."

On rebounding ability

"It's just a mindset.  Using my length to the best of my ability, and reacting quick.  Trying to be the first in the air to catch the rebound."

Other Workout Notes:

  • David Stockton won the three-minute full court drill...easily.  Stockton showed that he was in tremendous condition, and while I didn't get a full count on the number of laps he ran, he came in a full half-lap ahead of Jordan Clarkson, the most athletic player in today's workout.
  • Another note on Stockton.  Although he is projected to go undrafted, McDonough had a lot of positive things to say about him, and Hornacek obviously has a long history with he and the entire Stockton family.  Assuming he doesn't get picked in the second round, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he gets an opportunity to try out for the Suns in the summer league.  That is, if Utah doesn't get him first.
  • Richard Solomon came in first in the three-minute drill among the big-men in attendance.  Not only is he tall and long, he is in great condition and had no problem completing the drill ahead of the other bigs today.
  • Davante Gardner was the most noticeably out of shape among today's participants.  However, this is no surprise for a guy who played between 280-290 lbs during most of his career at Marquette.

The rumor is that Nik Stauskas will be working out with the Phoenix Suns in the near future.   Stay tuned.

The Phoenix Suns have worked out a wide range of players, but they’ve yet to dabble much with lottery talents. Michigan State guard Gary Harris was perhaps the one sure-fire projected lottery...

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Is Kyle Anderson's savvy offensive game enough for him to succeed in the NBA?

Kyle Anderson

School: UCLA

Position: Small Forward

Mock Draft Projections: Draft Express- 23, NBA Draft Insider- 19

Stats

Screen_shot_2014-06-10_at_6.21.02_pm_medium

Stats via sports-reference.com/cbb

Measurables

· Height: 6 '7.5" without shoes, 6' 8"5 with shoes

· Weight: 230 pounds

· Age: 20

· Wingspan: 7' 2.75"

· Standing Reach: 8'11 1.5"

Combine Numbers

Did not test due to injury.

Playmaking

Anderson is one of the most unique players in the draft. At his height and wingspan, he operates on the floor as a point forward. He was UCLA’s point guard last season, as he brought the ball up and was the first player the big would look for to start the fast-break. Anderson’s nickname throughout his UCLA career was "Slo-mo" because of his pace when he had the ball. That might puzzle you a bit if you’ve never seen him play, but Anderson makes it work in his own way. Players around him know that if they stay active and get open that Anderson will find them. He’s one of the best passers in this draft who will lullaby a defense to sleep while he walks around dribbling the ball searching for angles. Whenever he dribbles the ball up in either transition or the half-court, his head is always up and looking for that quick pass (remember, he can see over everyone at 6’9). Even when Anderson receives the ball on the catch, his head shoots right up, as he knows where everyone is on the floor and is sure to make the defense pay if they are at all out of position.

One of my favorite quotes from LeBron James was about him beginning to learn how to dominate in the league. I don’t have it word for word, but basically what LeBron said was that once he learned to ignore his initial defender and pay attention to what defenders 2-5 were doing he could dominate the floor. Now everyone pump the brakes here, I’m not coming close to comparing the two as basketball players. In that small facet though, Anderson gets it. He understands if he moves the ball somewhere, the defense will shift accordingly, and he can manipulate that. This is a very long way of saying that Anderson has a great basketball IQ.

Scoring

As a scorer, Anderson uses his large frame well to score in many different ways. Some of you Bright Side readers might have seen him at his best in the Pac-12 championship game against Arizona. Despite being defended by Aaron Gordon for most of the game, Anderson finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists. Gordon moves so well laterally, but Anderson’s long strides and relatively big frame were enough for him to get to the basket for 13 free throw attempts. Anderson is a crafty enough finisher to get it done despite lacking decent athleticism. Now you might be wondering how he’s getting into the lane.

Well, Anderson shot the 3 at a ridiculous rate last season, hitting 48% of his 1.6 attempts per game. He understands how this game works, so Anderson will use little head fakes and such knowing that his defender knows he can hit the shot. If he has a smaller defender on him, Anderson will use his high release to hit shots. Even if it is contested, he's getting a pretty good look if it's a smaller guard. It’s a weird paradigm with him, because Anderson usually has the ball in his hands so being a catch and shoot guy is not his thing, but he was great at that as well. He’s hitting these threes contested and with guys right in his face sometimes, so you’ve got to think it wasn’t just an insane hot streak all season. His 21% from his freshman season could have been the fluke instead of last season, but we will just have to wait and see.

Once again, Anderson is a slow dude, but he understands the geometry of the floor. If you put a quicker guard on him to keep him out of the key, he will get the ball in the post and operate from there. There’s no way you are ever sending a double on Anderson because you know he will find the open man in a split-second. If you bump him at the three-point line and switch off to contain the rim, Anderson has a good enough mid range game to pull up and make you pay.

Rebounding

Despite not being a good leaper, Anderson is a very good rebounder. He grabbed nearly 9 a game last season, and uses that insane wingspan and understanding of the floor to get the ball. He’s got that Kevin Love gene in that he understands the way the ball is going to bounce off the rim, so he’s always jumping at the precise moment and is usually in the right spot to grab the rebound. Besides the normal advantages a good rebounder has, Anderson’s are beyond that as his ability to go coast to coast is up there with anyone in this draft.

Defense

This is the giant red flag everyone is waving and I agree. Anderson is a very bad defender. He does not possess good athleticism and quickness, which he even struggled with mightily at the college level. It’s only going to get worse at the NBA level. UCLA would attempt to hide him on the worst offensive wing or guard the other team had, which meant he was primarily an off ball defender. Anderson frequently loses his man by paying attention to the ball, and that lack of quickness usually leaves good passes burning him. Laterally, he is a nightmare. He attempts to use that frame I previously discussed to body his man as much as possible, but it can only help him so much. At only 230 pounds, NBA level bodies were destroying him in college. In the post, it’s about the same story, as he doesn’t have the toughness to go against any sized power forward.

The good news defensively is that Anderson uses that ridiculous 7’3" wingspan to get deflections, steals, and blocks, as the stats show from last season. He would rack those up against bad opponents who would run through the motions offensively or think they had enough space on him when they did not. Like his ability to get to the rim, these may fade away at the NBA level.

Overall

Anderson might be the most unique prospect in this draft. His absurd court vision and playmaking abilities have him on his own pedestal, and the package he has shown as a scorer and shooter make him a great overall offensive player. However, his athleticism and struggles defensively have teams very wary of selecting him. Also, Anderson is so different as a prospect that it is going to take the right fit in order for him to succeed and for a team to get the most out of him. Those three concerns are why you see him around the mid to late first round in most mocks.

NBA Comp

A better Boris Diaw offensively

Fit in Phoenix

This one is up for debate. Anderson’s role is going to come off the bench as the guy you hand the keys of the offense to and tell him to go run the show. Could he do this for the Suns? I think so. The Suns already have two scorers off the bench in Markieff Morris and Gerald Green that require the ball enough, but Anderson could be that guy to make sure that they do get the ball and in the best spots. In a fanpost last week, I aired my concerns about the assist numbers for the Suns. A pass first player who could potentially be a knockdown shooter from three would really help. I like him at 18 and love him at 27.

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