The Phoenix Suns need help at every single position. If you had to pick one position not to bother with at the moment, it might be point guard. But shooting guard, small forward, power forward and even center are major question marks for even the near future of the franchise.

The Suns lineup does boast a starting quality, veteran center in Marcin Gortat. Gortat can give you a double-double and protect the paint with good weak side and help defense. A team can do a lot worse than Gortat.

The problem is that the Suns are rebuilding, while Marcin Gortat is 29 years old and has only one year left on his contract. Re-signing Gortat to a long term contract when he is 30 years old is a ploy by a playoff team, not a rebuilding team. Letting him go next summer without compensation would be folly too.

So it's time to trade Gortat. Either during the draft or during the summer.

But who would replace Gortat in the Phoenix Suns lineup? Of the league-high 45 players who have visited Phoenix in the past nine days, only four have been first-round caliber centers: Alex Len (ranked Top 5), Cody Zeller (lottery), Mason Plumlee (lottery/mid-first) and Rudy Gobert (lottery/mid-first).

Len might be gone by the time the Suns draft at #5 on June 27. Besides Nerlens Noel, Len is the best center prospect in the draft yet has a lot of need to grow his game. He is no finished product, by any means. But he has the frame, the skills and athletic ability to potentially become the best player in the Draft.

Zeller might be better suited at power forward than center. The Suns are still evaluating Markieff Morris at that position, and just might prefer to employ a stretch-four in their offense rather than the traditional power forward anyway. Zeller did very little shooting in college, only displaying his shooting ability in workouts for the first time this spring. It's a stretch for teams to translate that to game action.

However, Zeller is a multi-talented 7-footer who would be hard to pass up. And, he's got the Suns-ian advantage of being one of an NBA brother tandem. Older brother Tyler, a lottery pick in 2012, plays for the Cavaliers while older-older brother Luke is a fringe NBA player ("outside of games, best shooter in the world"). The Suns love them some brothers.

Rudy Gobert has the longest reach in the history of "reach", measuring a wingspan of 7'9" at the Draft Combine. He is very raw, and even himself said he might be ready to play "10-15 minutes a game in January". That's two months into his rookie season, folks. He's a reach. Potentially though, Gobert might just be the best defender of the group and his 7'2", 238 pound frame looks tailor-made to add weight.

That leaves Mason Plumlee, an athletic freak who doesn't have the classic offensive skills needed in the NBA but rebounds like a demon and runs fast.

Mason Plumlee, like Cody Zeller, is one of three brothers on the NBA track. Older brother Miles was drafted a year ago in the first round by the Pacers, while younger brother Marshall still plays at Duke. Last year, all three were on the Duke 12-man roster.

Will Mason Plumlee be the better brother?

Ryan McDonough sang Plumlee's praises after Mason's workout yesterday in Phoenix.

"I know Mason in the NBA right away will be able to rebound," McDonough said. "He will be one of the better bigs running the floor. He plays above the rim. He rebounds above the rim. There were a number of times today where he got loose and the guards threw the ball up to the rim and he caught it and dunked it."

Plumlee is active, that's for sure. Check out the Draft Express scouting report on Mason, including the video. On offense, Plumlee lives without plays being called for him. He dives and cuts to shake defenders, gobbles up putbacks and lobs. He would be good diving to the basket on pick and rolls. But he does have weaknesses.

"Areas of improvement - he's worked on his shooting and he will keep working on it," McDonough said. "But he's ready to play. Coming out of that Duke system, with his age and his body, he's a guy I can see sliding in and being on the floor pretty quickly in the NBA game."

Plumlee is extremely active, but has limited lateral quickness to defend the pick and roll - a staple in the NBA. But he's a worker, and this team needs workers.

"As far as centers in this draft, he's up there. That's a tough position to find a guy who can rebound the ball like that is attractive to me. A guy who runs the floor. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he went in the lottery somewhere."

Too bad the Suns don't have a late lottery pick to use on him. Right?

Then again, the Suns do have assets. Such as a veteran center ready to help a team make the playoffs as their fourth or fifth best player. A team like Portland, with the 10th pick, or Oklahoma City, with the 12th, could really use a guy like Gortat.

Plumlee is the kind of guy McDonough might want, in a trade for the 10th or 12th pick in the draft. So is Cody Zeller. Or even Rudy Gobert, whose potential is greater than either Zeller or Plumlee at the 5, but may never reach even the level these two already possess.

Whether its Gobert, Zeller or Plumlee, if the Suns take a perimeter player at #5 it would behoove them to take a center with a second lottery pick, using Gortat as the bait. Two top picks at separate need positions seems to be the way the Suns are leaning.

"For a guy like him, what is that range?" he says of the decision-making process with Plumlee. "And if we're interested in him, what pick do we have to get to get him?

"He's one of the more ready-made guys in the draft who can come in and play as a rookie."


The Phoenix Suns seem to be outworking the competition so far getting in more players than any team for group and individual workouts. When all is said and done they may know more about the 2013 NBA Draft then any individual on the planet.

Not every workout is going to draw in the top level talent for the Phoenix Suns as they continue to prepare for the 2013 NBA Draft later this month. Today, for example, the team was looking at six prospects that could be options for their late second round pick this year.

The Suns have two picks in the first round (5 and 30) as well as one in the second round (57) to work with.

All six of the prospects brought in are more realistic as late second round picks. The big names were Grant Jerrett (former Arizona forward) and Vander Blue (Marquette). Both have the potential to be quality NBA players, but are coming from very different situations. Last year, as a freshman, Jerrett was not utilized like he could have been in a deep Arizona front-court. He had to share time which led to a reduced role and a decision to leave early for the NBA Draft. On the other hand Blue is a junior that saw his stock soar after a very quality showing in the NCAA Tournament.

Jerrett played ball here in Tucson, but former Hamilton High School star Ryan Evans was also in this workout creating a very hometown feel. He played four years for the Wisconsin Badgers on an unassuming team with an unassuming role. Working out for his hometown team for a spot in the NBA Draft had to be a dream fulfilled.

The rest of the group included Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, and Scott Woods. Here is a quick breakdown of the workout participants from a scouting perspective:

  • Grant Jerrett -- Arizona -- Freshman power forward: A good shooter and translates immediately as a stretch-four. Jerrett has the talent to be a very good prospect, but didn't show it consistently at Arizona this year and looked out of shape in Chicago for the Combine.
  • Vander Blue -- Marquette -- Junior shooting guard: Not a scorer, but when forced into that role proved to be resourceful. Has the physical tools to be a great defender on the perimeter with a terrific athletic profile.
  • Kenny Kadji -- Miami -- Senior forward/center: He can stretch the floor as a shooter, but with his size Kadji can forget that he belongs in the paint. Not a great athlete, but solid. Today, Kadji is 25 years old.
  • Ryan Evans -- Wisconsin -- Senior wing: The best athlete in a long time for the Badgers, but the last player with that distinction was former Sun Alando Tucker. Evans is a better basketball player with the ability to be an impact defender and has improved each year on the offensive end, as a ball-handler, and as a shooter.
  • Durand Scott -- Miami -- Senior combo guard: Another undersized two guard that plays the one. More of a scorer that had his most efficient year as a senior scoring and shooting the ball.
  • Scott Wood -- N.C. State -- Senior wing: Great shooter, but other than that Wood is not an NBA level athlete. He is very smart and played his role well for the Wolfpack, but he is not an NBA athlete, lacks strength, and ball-skills to play on the perimeter. For his career Wood shot 809 threes (41.3%) and 256 twos (45.3%).

Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday.


All good things must come to an end. That was the case as the Phoenix Suns finished up their seventh workout in eight days at U.S. Airways Center that saw a wide range of talents come through. Today's workout was no different with lottery talents, late first rounders, second round hopefuls, and others that may not hear their names called on June 27th this year.

The group consisted of Mason Plumlee (No. 11 on the Big Board), Tony Mitchell (24), Isaiah Canaan (49), DeWayne Dedmon (NA), Khalif Wyatt (NA), and Jamelle Hagins (NA).

It was a very athletic group today from top to bottom. Plumlee and Mitchell are elite athletes for their position in the front-court with the ability to make teams pay in the open court. With the new trend of position-less basketball, that by the way General Manager Ryan McDonough has references a few times, and was on display today.

"Today was a good group, especially with the bigs, one of the more athletic groups we have had," McDonough on the workout as a whole.

Each can play multiple positions and measured bigger than their regular season college listing at the NBA Draft Combine a month ago.

If the team wants to upgrade the athleticism, shooting, and play an up-tempo style then Plumlee and Mitchell meet two of the three requirements. Neither are in a realistic range for the Suns, but it is always good to know the talent incase they acquire a mid-first round pick.

Mitchell has been favorably compared to former Suns great Shawn Marion and has the potential, athletically, to play a similar role as a do everything athletic forward. He would be a steal at No. 30 for the team.

The rest of the workout involved more athletes of different ilk's in Canaan (point guard), Dedmon (center), Hagins (forward), and Wyatt (scoring guard). All are second round options for the team, but, once again, the team had a draft worthy point guard in a workout. A trend to keep an eye on.

"It has been a grind for our staff (seven in eight days), but we feel good about where we are. We will take a little break and concentrate on film work over the next few days and then do some other logistical things with the front office and the coaching staff." -- McDonough

Here is a scouting take on the prospects:

  • Mason Plumlee -- Duke -- Senior forward/center: Full Scouting Report
  • Tony Mitchell -- North Texas -- Sophomore forward: Full Scouting Report
  • Isaiah Canaan -- Murray State -- Senior point guard: Full Scouting Report
  • Jamelle Haggins -- Delaware -- Senior forward: Very athletic, combo forward that excels in transition and can rebound the ball. Not polished on the offensive end, but can play a role off the bench and provides energy.
  • DeWayne Dedmon -- USC -- Junior center: Big, athletic, long, and can shoot the ball. Has potential as a shot-blocker, but never stayed on the court long enough to develop it as a skill.
  • Khalif Wyatt -- Temple -- Senior shooting guard: Scores in bunches and can get points in a variety of ways from three, in the paint, mid-range, and going to the line after absorbing contact. He is not a great athlete, more of an "old man's game," but knows how to create space.

***Mason Plumlee ran 26 court lengths in three minutes, which is the infamous drill the Suns have at the end of their workouts, he was the best in this group and unsure how he measured up against the other groups

***The next workout is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 15th

***So far the team has worked out 45 total prospects (the most of any team through today)

***After today the team will focus on the hiring of the coaching staff and expects to make an announcement of the entire staff at once

Many sports business students dream of leveraging their degree into an internship with a professional team after which they can work up the ranks of the organization’s operations department....

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Welcome to the third installment of the Bright Side Round Table as we address all the major questions and discuss all the pertinent issues for the Phoenix Suns off-season. Go back and see our thoughts on Jeff Hornacek as the new Head Coach and the No. 5 pick.

(Today we welcome in Richard Parker to the discussion as Jim Coughenour is on sabbatical)

Third topic: Five Questions on the No. 30 Pick

1. Breaking the Ice: What are your initial thoughts on what the team should do with the No. 30 Overall Pick?

Kris Habbas: The ideally would like to avoid duplicated positions with their two first round picks so a big early means a wing late, and vice versa, but this pick also gives them a chance to swing hard for the fences.

Dave King: I think the team should trade up in the draft, using the 30th pick as bait along with a Suns player or two, or acquire a young NBA talent for it. If they keep it, they should go for a high-potential talent rather than a safe one.

Jacob Padilla: Well, what the team does will depend on who is taken at No. 5 and who is left on the board. McDonough said drafting two players at the same position can stunt their growth a bit, so if the Suns go big at five I'd anticipate them looking at guards at 30 and vice versa. Although I do think 2 wings is a possibility.

Richard Parker: My initial thoughts are to hate the Los Angeles Lakers more than I already do because that pick should be 16 spots higher. Anyway, I think that with the 30th pick we should get good value in a draft deep with guys that project to be rotation players. That can be either by using the pick as part of a package to acquire an even better asset or to just take a relatively talented player that can play on this team (either right away or after some time in the D-League).

Sean Sullivan: If possible, they should try to acquire another lotto pick first, possibly by packaging it with a player. I would also like them to look at next year's draft and see if there is any way they can acquire another pick there as well. If not, just take the best player available. There is plenty of depth this year, if not top-tier talent.

2. Should the team try to trade it? If so, what is the value?

DK: By itself, the 30th pick doesn't hold a lot of value in trade with most NBA teams fighting the salary cap. It's actually worth less than the 31st because the 30th guy gets a guaranteed contract. Yet, it's still a first-rounder, and is likely the most valuable to a team who watches a favorite of theirs drop and can't live without him. So, if it's being traded its either (a) a throw-in to a bigger trade so a team can say they got a first-round pick back or (b) traded "on the clock" to a team that really wants a particular player.

JP: I wouldn't be opposed to moving 30 as part of a larger deal. However, I would like to get at least 2 first round rookies out of this draft and I think the Suns should be able to get a fairly decent one at the end of the first round.

RP: I don't think you should have the mindset of definitely trying to either trade or keep it at this point. McDonough should definitely explore all the possibilities, and there is bound to be plenty of movement in the draft. If a deal comes up where we can package the 30th with other assets to move up in the draft or acquire a better asset, that's when you think about definitely trading it. I think it has some value to it. This draft class is supposed to be deep and there are several players projected to go late first round or early second that will at least be rotation players. However, it is guaranteed salary as opposed to an early second rounder (like the 31st pick) so a lot of teams might prefer the latter.

SS: Yes, see above. I think the value will be determined by the team who wants it. I think we should look at trading one of our players along with it for another lotto pick and possibly a player in return, depending on the deal.

KH: Teams are trying to get under the cap, trade out of the draft in general, and project their roster heading into free-agency. This pick does not have much value as it serves as a counter agent to those goals.

3. Of the prospects the team has worked out, who do you like the most for the team at No. 30?

JP: I haven't set my sights on any one player. It's a lot harder to predict who's going to be available at 30 compared to five. However, I do think there should be some good wing prospects available and the Suns have worked out a couple of them in Archie Goodwin, Ricky Ledo and Tony Snell.

RP: I like Tony Snell, though I'm not sure he drops to #30. I think he'll go in the mid-20s but if he's available, I think he'd be a solid pick. He's got good size to play either wing position, is a good shooter and defender (though he needs to put on some weight), and seems like the kind of player that can at least be a 3-and-D guy in the league. Archie Goodwin is another guy that I like with this pick, though he's much more of a project than Snell is. Ricky Ledo has tons of talent, but his question marks scare me - his red flags are really red. Other guys I like (that we haven't worked out yet but might) are Muscala (one of the most skilled and underrated players in the draft), Withey (probably won't be available though), Crabbe, Glen Rice Jr., and Mouhammadou Jaiteh.

SS: Of the prospects we've worked out who I think could still be there, I like Ricky Ledo. He's a gamble but has probably the most upside of any player in that range.

KH: The wings stand out, but so do some of the point guards. I have been high on Tony Snell, Archie Goodwin, and Ricky Ledo all year so if they are there then the team has some high risk (high reward) options. Keep an eye on point guards as well here including Ray McCallum and Erick Green.

DK: If the Suns keep the pick, a young guy with upside would be a good call. The Suns can afford the guaranteed contract to develop someone who is 18, 19 yrs old and needs time to develop: Archie Goodwin, Ricky Ledo, M. Jaiteh. All guys who have been invited over the past week.

4. There is no way this pick is more valuable to the teams' long-term success, right? Or is it? Explain

RP: Do you mean more valuable than the 5th pick? God, I hope not. I guess technically there's a chance that the player we draft at 30th ends up better than the 5th overall pick, so I wouldn't say there's no way. However, if that happens, it'll most likely mean the player we got at #5 turned out to be a bust so let's hope that doesn't happen.

SS: Probably not. In terms of the odds, there isn't a great chance that we land a starter or even a 6th man with the 30th pick. However, the possibility does exist, and if they can somehow hit on two starters in this draft, regardless of whether they keep the pick or trade it, then I think this could be a very crucial pick for the future success of the Suns.

KH: Obviously the No. 5 pick has more inherent value, but hitting here at No. 30 will be more difficult and therefore that much more valuable in the long-term. You are supposed to get a starter in the lottery, but to get one late in the first round is another story.

DK: More valuable than the #5? No, no way it's more valuable. However, having the 30 is more valuable than not having it. If you take the right player, he can turn out to be a mainstay on the team. Hornacek himself was a #46 pick. Barbosa was a #30 pick. Several other very good NBA players have been drafted in this range.

JP: No, I think you had it right the first time. With this pick the Suns are looking for a rotation player. If they strike out, they've got a few more picks over the next couple of years to make up for it. However, if the Suns are going to turn this thing around fairly quickly they are going to have to make every move count.

5. Sitting on Ryan McDonough's desk are the options to trade up, trade down, or trade out of the No. 30 pick, which should he entertain?

SS: Hard to answer without knowing the specifics of the offers. But of course I would like to move up if the price is right. However, if say Houston is offering T-Rob for the #30 pick as a salary dump, I would pull that trigger also.

KH: Trade up. If there is an opportunity to get a pick in the teens for No. 30 and a player on the roster then you pull the trigger unless their name is Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, or Marcin Gortat. Those three have more value at this year's trade deadline.

DK: All of them. Whatever gets the most bang for the buck. I've said in #1 though that he should get a higher pick than 30 as his second first-rounder simply because there's a lot of guys who can help this team.

JP: He should entertain all three options of course. However, I'd like to see him stay there unless he can use it to move up without giving up too much.

RP: Obviously, trading up is better than the other two options but it all depends on the price. If he can trade up for relatively little, why not? There's a good amount of talent in the mid-first round and early 20s that I like so we'd at least have to explore the idea if it presents itself. Trading down is also an option if McDonough likes someone in the second round just as much as the guy we'd be getting at #30. I don't think he would trade out of the 30th pick completely, unless it was for a young prospect that we're getting back or as part of a much bigger deal. There's definitely value at the end of the first round and with McDonough being a draft "expert," I'd be surprised to see him deal the pick away without getting an asset back.

6. BONUS: Who is a "worthwhile" risk at No. 30 to you?

KH: Both Goodwin and Ledo have very high ceilings, but also have low basements. If they can get things together mentally to become good teammates and more consistent then they will be potential starters for their career. Risks and gambles have to be calculated.

DK: Any of the 18, 19 year olds who need time to develop. The Suns can afford to wait.

JP: Goodwin and Ledo are both risks that might be worth taking at that point, as both have a lot of talent and plenty of potential, yet neither have proven much for different reasons. Glen Rice, Jr. might be worth a look as well, as would a European prospect like Giannis Adetokunbo.

RP: Depends on what you mean by risk. Since we have one lottery pick and are rumored to be interested in acquiring an additional first rounder, it could be well worth it to take a risk with the #30 pick. Archie Goodwin is a somewhat risky prospect because although he has tremendous talent, he's unpolished and would be a long-term project. However, at the 30th spot, he's probably a steal. Ricky Ledo is a big risk but one that could potentially reap great rewards if it works out, so that's a risk that might be worthwhile (though I still like other prospects more than him). I think Mouhammadou Jaiteh would also be a worthwhile risk because no one would be able to pronounce his name. Oh, and because he's an 18 year old project big man with great size and length (6'11", 249 lbs., 7'4" wingspan) and has major upside.

SS: Alan Crabbe, Ricky Ledo, Deshaun Thomas, Tony Snell are at the top of my list.

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