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Following the recent models of Houston and Orlando, the mock Phoenix Suns took full advantage of the SB Nation mock draft to acquire as much youth as possible while clearing the necessary cap space for future maneuverings.

Going into the mock draft, the Phoenix Suns boasted the league's second-oldest non-playoff rotation (26 years old, second only to Dallas) and nine guaranteed 2013-14 contracts with only one of those contracted players younger than 24 years old.

Truly, the 2013 NBA Draft is going to be the opening bell of a new era of Phoenix Suns basketball. It has to be.

Going into the draft, the Suns have the #5 and #30 overall picks (and #57, but that one unlikely to make the playing rotation). If the Suns draft only those two spots, that leaves just three roster positions under 24 next season. Three.

Top it off with only $8.5 million in cap space, after factoring in releases of all non-guaranteed players, the Suns did not have a lot of wiggle room this summer to eat salary in trades in order to get youth after the draft.

Quite simply, it's not good enough just to draft those two spots and wait for free agency.

Mock Draft Results

This was my mantra going into the SB Nation Mock Draft:

  • get as young as possible
  • collect tradeable assets
  • make even more cap space available for later trades

This mock draft was not going to complete "the team of the future" for Suns. Rather, the draft would create even more assets for future trades. I was not going for veterans. Just kids. I wanted to preserve the Suns chances at a cornerstone player in the 2014 draft. There are no quick fixes with this team.

Remember that Houston took three first-rounders last year, turning one of them into James Harden. Orlando spent the entire year acquiring kids after Dwight left, ending the year with several rookies (Vucevic, Nicholson, Harris, Harkless) that will someday be used to acquire a star.

That was my mantra. Do whatever I could to collect youth and assets.

Recap of Draft

1) Take Victor Oladipo at 5th overall

First, the mock front office and I decided that we would take the best available player at #5, rather than move up or down. There are 5-6 players all jockeying for top 5 positions, all fairly equal in talent and upside.

When Oladipo fell, it was a slam dunk. But if any of the other 4 (Noel, Len, McLemore, Porter in that order) had dropped, I'd have taken whoever it was.

2) Trade Marcin Gortat for #10 and Joel Freeland, draft Rudy Gobert

After taking a guard at #5, we wanted to take a big man at #10. You can debate the name of that big man all you want, and so would I, but at the time of this draft the 20-year old Rudy Gobert was the top-rated remaining big man in the draft. Two weeks later, that's more of a question.

The trade itself is one of value. Gortat was leaving in a year. He's not here to babysit a young team, he wants to play for a playoff team. His $7.75 million expiring contract needed to be turned into youth sooner or later, lest the Suns lose him for nothing. The #10 pick was a valuable asset. And Joel Freeland is a quality backup big man too.

3) Trade Jared Dudley for #20 and Rip Hamilton, draft Jamaal Franklin

Here's another debatable pick, because of the relative value of Dudley vs. Gortat and the duplication involved in taking Jamaal Franklin. Yet I wasn't building the roster of the future here. I was collecting assets. Franklin will have the same/similar value as Jeremy Lamb had last year - a projectable young player for inclusion in a trade. Or, if he blows the Suns socks off, he makes Oladipo expendable in a bigger deal for an even bigger star. It's all about collecting assets.

4) Trade Kendall Marshall and #30 for Brandon Knight and #37

Yet more duplication here. But realize that Brandon Knight is the same age as Kendall Marshall but he is more accomplished as an NBA player and can get his shot when he wants it. He's a 37% 3-point shooter on 4+ attempts per game and can play combo guard with Dragic. If Knight develops into the star the league thought it was getting in 2011, he gives the Suns yet another tradeable asset (Dragic or Knight) without destroying the team.

I am hoping the Suns would be able to use the #37 on someone like C.J. Leslie, but it would most likely be used on a draft-and-stash of a Euro player. Same for the #57 - draft and stash. The picks could also be used to acquire a veteran 3-point shooter for the nights the kids aren't playing well.

Summary

With these moves, the Suns now have $14.9 million in cap room this year.

The $14.9 million assumes the release of all non-guaranteed deals except P.J. Tucker.

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I realize this roster might not win 20 games next year as currently constructed, but at least it's got some potential. Remember the Suns won 25 excruciating games last year with an old lineup boasting little future.

The Morrises still might develop, and will now get to share the stretch-4 role.

Further moves I would make, once July 1 hits:

  • release Michael Beasley. With Franklin playing a lot of SF in a three-guard lineup and the bigger Morrises available for backup SF (Marcus) and stretch-4 (Markieff and Marcus), along with Channing Frye returning to play some 4 and 5, there's no room for SuperCool
  • trade Luis Scola for a future asset, ANY future asset. That poor guy had such a hard time on a loser last year. I really felt bad for him. He took that losing harder than most anyone on the roster. His contract will be easy to trade. Like Beasley, the Suns have more than enough bodies to play his minutes.
  • Sign a stop-gap center who can rebound, block shots
  • Trade duplicative assets (Franklin, Morrii) for SF/PF big with a future

Depth chart

PG Dragic, Knight

SG Oladipo, Franklin

SF Tucker, Franklin, Mook Morris

PF Kieff Morris, Mook Morris, Frye

C Frye (or free agent, if Frye not healthy), Gobert, Freeland

Highlighted are the team's veterans. I realize this roster is a hodgepodge (some might call it a sh!* sandwich) and not likely anything the Suns would want to enter the 2013-14 season with.

But I wasn't going for that. I was going for assets. Assets to be used for something much bigger. "When" that something happens, I don't know. But the Suns are primed when it does.

The best building lock of the future is Victor Oladipo.

Postscript

I got what I wanted out of this draft. Was it the best the Suns could have done? Heck no. But doing this all in real time, not knowing who was going to fall where and which trade proposals were going to work out, I found out quickly that there's no blueprint to follow. You think you're doing the right thing and then, bam, the picks don't go as expected.

If Noel or Len had fallen to 5, and the trades went as they did, we could have ended up with Noel(Len)/Muhammad/Franklin/Knight. That would have been a nice distribution of talent, one for each position, but is Len a better prospect overall than Oladipo? Who knows. And, unless you duplicate positions with youth, you can't really afford to trade any of them unless you're getting a better player back at that same position. The way the draft unfolded, both Knight and Franklin can be dealt from a position of strength.

As the draft went on, after the top 6-7 picks, there was basically only a choice of future backup center or rotational wing player with high upside. With the Morrises and Frye already filling the potential stretch-4 roles, I didn't think a young PF would get any playing time to up his trade value. And the Morris value is at an all-time low right now. They need playing time to prove their worth to the Suns and/or in trade.

Poll
How would you grade this draft?

  464 votes | Results

Strengths As the name might allude to, Glen Rice Jr. is an outstanding jump shooter who connected on 38 percent of his three-pointers in 48 D-League games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last...

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This past season the Phoenix Suns were not very athletic and struggled to rebound the ball. The second part has a lot to do with the first part as they were 18th in the league in total rebounds. As the workouts are winding down there is a subtle theme in the players being brought in as of late... They are athletic and the bigs can rebound.

Today's workout featured Brandon Davies (No. 47 on the Big Board), Glen Rice Jr. (53), Gregory Echenique (NA), Angelo Sharpless (NA), C.J. Aiken (NA), and Colt Ryan (NA).

(See the bottom for notes on the workouts and some INCREDIBLE dunks from Angelo Sharpless)

Other than the son of former NBA All-Star Glen Rice, there are no locked in first round talents in the Valley today. Junior took a different route to the NBA as he played two years at Georgia Tech before being kicked off the team for a shooting incident outside of a night club in Atlanta. He has moved past that after a "clean year" in the D-League with no incidents.

Rice Jr. shot the ball well here after a porous shooting display at the NBA Draft Combine a month ago.

The other recognizable name here is Davies who was around for the Jimmer Fredette years at BYU. He was marred in a bit of controversy as well after "violating the honor code" at the school.

General Manager Ryan McDonough has said on the record that he will take a risk on a prospect if he feels they are a "special talent." Is Rice Jr. a "special talent?"

Outside of the controversy surrounding the group they presented some great athletic options as well as some workers on the glass. Davies and Echenique are grinders that are capable of maxing out their opportunities on the glass as Davies was 3rd in the WCC and Echenique 5th in the MVC this past season.

Here is a scouting take on the prospects:

  • Brandon Davies -- BYU -- Senior power forward: Not the best athlete, but very active on the glass, high motor, and has improved his overall offensive game. Great length and size to play the four in the NBA with a high basketball IQ.
  • Glen Rice Jr. -- NBDL Rio Grande -- Junior wing: The questions about his character are warranted, but he has a strong NBA frame for the two and can shoot the ball from NBA range. On offense he is a scorer, not a play-maker, but capable of getting points in bunches.
  • Gregory Echenique -- Creighton -- Senior big man: Very high energy, works hard for everything he gets on the court due to his physical/athletic limitations, and has the intangibles of a typical bench rebounder.
  • Angelo Sharpless -- Elizabeth City State -- Senior shooting guard: Incredible athlete that can explode to the rim effortlessly. Has a limited skill-set outside of that. He can rebound the ball from his position and has potential as a defender, but is not a consistent shooter or ball-handler.
  • C.J. Aiken -- Saint Joseph's -- Senior forward: A classic tweener that is big enough to play the four, but not consistently. Aiken is a good defender and average rebounder for the position, but too slight to handle duties at the four full time.
  • Colt Ryan -- Evansville -- Senior shooting guard: There is potential for him as a shooter and combo guard as he ran the offense in college. Good size for a combo guard, hit 1.9 threes a game, and has shown good range in college.

***The Suns have another workout scheduled for Saturday and they can workout players up to Wednesday night leading up to the NBA Draft

***The count is now at 68 total prospects worked out: PG (15), SG (17), SF (9), PF (16), and C (11)

***Some members of the coaching staff appeared to be in attendance today including newly promoted Mark West

Insane Dunk Off The SELF BOUNCE ALLY-OOP

More Dunking

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With a bit of nostalgia, I get to recap for you how the Suns finished out their SB Nation mock draft with a bang. But before we get into how we fired the last, huge missile, let's look back on what's happened so far.

Recap

SBNation decided to run a league wide mock draft, with each blog manager drafting for his or her team and negotiating trades between each other using at least one first round pick in each deal.

First, we dabbled in trading up but decided against it and watched Victor Oladipo fall to the Suns. He's the guy that most Suns fans drool about, since he's such a hard worker and was so great in his junior year at Indiana.

Then, after a whole bunch of maneuvering and negotiating, BSotS traded two veterans for two more first round picks and took 7'2" Rudy Gobert (with 7'9" wingspan) and 6'5" Jamaal Franklin (with 6'11" wingspan). The cost was Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley. I can see Gobert taking a year or two to get his feet wet in the NBA and to establish his presence, so the Suns will need to sign veteran center if Channing Frye doesn't come back next year. But they don't need a 30-year old on a 4 year, $10 million contract (which is what Gortat would have wanted).

Franklin will play big minutes right away in three-guard lineups with Oladipo and Dragic. They can wreak havoc defensively, rebound the ball, run the court like lightning and put the ball in the hole.

One downside is that none of the three is a high-volume, high-percentage 3-point shooter. That means the Suns would have to (a) play them along with a big-time shooter at the 4 and/or 5, like Channing Frye, or (b) play Franklin at the 4 where he played in college while another wing hits the 3s. Or both.

Another weakness is secondary playmaking when Dragic rests and when he's out there to give the Suns a two-pronged attack. Oladipo can handle the ball a bit, and Franklin led his team in assists (and rebounds, points and steals), but neither is a primary ballhandler even for short minutes.

Kendall Marshall could be that playmaker, but he's more of a passer than a shooter. And true playmakers are a threat to shoot from anywhere. If Marshall develops his shot, then he could be a force. But he doesn't quite fit with the new ultra-quick, ultra-athletic guard rotation and doesn't make up for it in shooting at this point.

On tap

The Suns have one more pick at #30. But I really don't want four rookies on the roster, so I wanted to explore trading trading the #30 for a young veteran with a future. Of course, no one wants who has a young veteran with a future wants to trade him for just the #30, so I decided to add in as many remaining trade chips as I needed.

I still had Marshall, the Morrii, and a handful of non-guaranteed deals with which to provide salary relief to taxpaying teams.

What I wanted was either a pure small forward who could shoot, or a combo guard who could play the 1 or the 2 depending on the lineup. The player needed to be a veteran but still on his rookie contract and the potential to be better in a couple years than they are today.

So I contacted two teams who'd been active in the Mock Draft to see if they wanted to do one more deal: Philadelphia (Evan Turner) and Detroit (Brandon Knight).

In both cases, their former high pick was wearing out his welcome and didn't quite fit the team of the future. Turner was good, but not #2 pick good. And Knight was good, but redundant with Rodney Stuckey and now C.J. McCollum as combo guards on the same team. Both teams could use a pass-first playmaker to get the ball down to the bigs on their team. And Philly had the hometown Morris brothers for nostalgic purposes.

Alternately, we could trade down from #30 to get multiple assets in the 2013 and 2014 drafts (second-round only). But that's not sexy or exciting in a Mock Draft that only goes to pick #30.

Both Philadelphia and Detroit came back with good, doable trade offers. The BSotS front office was torn for a bit. We exchanged at least a dozen emails debating the merits of each deal.

Tick tock.

Tune in on Friday for what happened.

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