Among the pure shooting guard prospects, three players stand out from their competition as the best of the bunch. Who might the Suns draft?

Let's assume that the Phoenix Suns will execute at least one of their draft picks at the 14th and 18th selections in the June 26 Draft, rather than trading both away for a star.

Let's also assume that the Suns want a shooting guard as some insurance against trading away one of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Archie Goodwin in the next year in an effort to improve the talent on their front line.

This year's draft has a better talent level than last year's, in general, but the best pure shooting guards are all currently ranked in the 10-25 range of most mock drafts - right where the Suns are picking.

Whither Archie Goodwin?

A year ago, the Suns moved up a spot to nab what they saw as an undervalued player in Archie Goodwin. Statistically, Goodwin ranked poorly against the shooting guard competition in his draft, but he was one of the youngest players in college basketball (just 18 all season) and he played out of position all year (PG) at one of the highest profile programs in the nation (Kentucky).

On KTAR last week, coach Hornacek remembered being highly impressed with Goodwin when he visited for a pre-draft workout. Archie's quick first step and overall aggressive demeanor got him a second look and eventually a draft pick to move to the valley.

Goodwin impressed us all in summer league, dropping 13+ points per game in the VSL and then later 25+ PPG in a couple stints in the D-League.

But should the Suns hitch their wagon to a kid who still can't shoot straight from range? Let's take a look at the draft alternatives.

Best of 2014

The best pure shooting guards in the Suns 14-18 draft range are Gary Harris (19 years old, one month younger than Archie), Nick Stauskas (20 years old), and P.J. Hairston (21 years old). Zach LaVine is also a possibility, but his draft stock profiles so closely to Archie - all promise, little college production - that I'm leaving him out of this conversation. LaVine comes out horribly in this statistical comparison.

*Note: This analysis excludes small forwards (Hood, Young, etc) and combo guards (

Based on pure scoring ability, P.J. Hairston looks like the most ready to contribute of these three as a rookie. He spent the past year in the D-League, so his competition was generally higher than Stauskas or Harris faced. Though the D-League isn't known for intricate offensive or defensive schemes, so you have to take that into account.

Among all shooting guards in this draft, here are the comps, per Draftexpress.com:

  • Hairston #1 in points per 40 min; Stauskas/Harris in middle of pack
  • Hairston #3 in 3-pt attempts per 40 min; Harris top 1/3, Stauskas middle of pack
  • Hairston #3 in 3-pt per FGA; Harris top 1/3, Stauskas middle of pack
  • Hairston #6 in Free throw attempts (FTA) per 40; Stauskas #7, Harris bottom half
  • Stauskas #3 in FTA/possession; Hairston and Harris middle of pack
  • Stauskas #2 in True Shooting %; Hairston #6, Harris middle
  • Stauskas #6 in in Assists/40; Harris #8, Hairston dead last
  • Stauskas, Harris and P.J. all middle of pack in Turnovers/40
  • Stauskas #3 in Pure Point Ratio (scoring + assists - turnovers); Harris #7, Hairston 2nd to last
  • Stauskas #6 in PER; Harris #8, Hairston in bottom 1/3
  • Harris middle of pack in Rebounds/40; Hairston bottom 1/3, Stauskas 2nd to last
  • Harris #5 in Steals/40; Hairston #7, Stauskas dead last
  • Harris #5 in Blocks/40; Hairston #6, Stauskas middle of pack

Stats in perspective

DX does these statistical comparisons every year.

Last year, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the P.J. Hairston of the bunch in terms of being the pure scorer who couldn't pass. But KCP was younger than Hairston (19 vs. 21), longer and had the better defensive chops. KCP eventually went 9th overall and had an up-and-down rookie campaign for the Detroit Dysfunctionals.

Victor Oladipo passed everyone's eye test with flying colors, but he profiled similar to Gary Harris this year - not a high-volume scorer,  but the best all-around player. Harris is younger than Oladipo was (19 vs. 21), while Oladipo was the better passer and better overall athlete. Oladipo eventually went #2 overall and had a very good rookie campaign, though he got 82 games to prove he's not a point guard.

Nick Stauskas might be the next coming of J.J. Redick, or the shooting guard version of Gordon Hayward. He's a highly efficient scorer and good passer who plays with a high basketball IQ. Scouts are lately talking about Stauskas being a better athlete than college indicated and passable defender. He will have to defend well to make a long starting career in the NBA.

Stats don't tell the whole story, though.

A year ago, Archie showed terribly in these statistical comps. He was the youngest player in his conference and played the entire year out of position at point guard. The Suns loved what they saw and ignored the stats. Archie played similar to what the stats showed - great at getting to the basket, bad at shooting, too young to make much difference - but showed potential to be so much more than he was at Kentucky.

When Gary Harris visited in May for a pre-draft workout, GM Ryan McDonough said that Harris should not be penalized for his poor shooting last year, that a lot of factors played a part in Harris regressing in that area.

Summary

All are 21 or younger, so none of these three shooting guards are anywhere near their NBA ceiling. They all had better college careers than the Suns young prospect Archie Goodwin, though Goodwin is STILL almost the youngest of the bunch (Harris is younger by a month).

If you're looking for a rookie contributor, then P.J. Hairston is your man. Push for him hard. He's ready to make the All-Rookie team.

If you're looking for long-term potential who might just be an All-Star some day but might not contribute as much as Hairston as a rookie, then look at Stauskas and Harris. Their ceilings are higher than Hairston, in my opinion.

But if you'd just rather Archie Goodwin get all those minutes next season, then pray he really does straighten out that shot and that the Suns skip the shooting guard position altogether in this draft.

Poll
What should the Suns do?

  508 votes | Results

Mitch McGary

School: Michigan

Draft Range: Draft Express - 30, NBA Draft Insider - 28, NBADraft.net - 38

Pre-Draft Measurements:

  • Height: 6'10"
  • Weight: 266 lbs
  • Wingspan: 6'11.5"
  • Standing Reach: 8'11.5"

Stats:

The Buzz

With McGary it's all buzz right now, of the unsubstantiated variety.  To this point McGary is the biggest question mark of the 2014 NBA Draft.  His agent has him under wraps, as he's yet to make a visit to an NBA team, and he was a no show at the NBA Combine in Chicago.  There's plenty of speculation as to why that is.  Many feel it may be due to the back injury that limited McGary to just eight games during his sophomore year last season.  Others, including Alex Kennedy at basketballinsiders.com are circulating a rumor that McGary has received a promise from a team drafting in the 20's.  At least publicly, McGary's camp is running with the rehab story.

"Mark feels, and I do, as well, feel that I'm not 100 percent, and he doesn't want me to play unless I'm at 110 percent," McGary told the Detroit Free Press. "He doesn't want to reveal me to anybody until I'm 100 percent, and I feel as if I'm a couple weeks out. I plan to. I'm letting Mark handle a lot of it. I don't know who or when or what (teams). Right now, I'm just focusing trying to rehab my back."

No pun intended I'm sure, on the "rehab."  It was an easy decision for McGary to declare for the draft after his sophomore season at Michigan.  Following his freshman year where he played an enhanced role near the end of the season and was a vital member of a team that advanced to the NCAA Championship Game, McGary's eight game sophomore campaign was met with further troubling news.  He tested positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament and was ruled ineligible for the following season.  This made the decision to jump to the NBA an easy one, and at least one Eastern Conference scout indicated the positive drug screen would have no bearing on McGary's draft position.

The Offense

When it comes to attacking the rim, there are few prospects in the draft that do so as zealously as McGary.  He's more aggressive than explosive, "think more Kevin Love than Blake Griffin." That's Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves for those Suns fans that are unfamiliar.  McGary's wingspan isn't terribly impressive when it comes to the center position, but that's alright because the center position doesn't really exist in the Association anymore, particularly in Phoenix.  Few players take as much pride in setting a solid screen as McGary.  He doesn't have the best form on his jump shot, although the sample size is too small to label him a "bad shooter."  Post game is non existent.  He did benefit greatly from playing alongside talented point guard Trey Burke, particularly when it came to rolling to the basket.   The Suns have a talented point guard, in fact they have multiple talented point guards.

The Defense

McGary's best offensive traits are even further exemplified on defense.  Let's get the cliches out of the way.  High basketball IQ.  High motor.  Gets high.  I'm sorry, that's classless.  McGary hustles, bangs with the bigs, and gets after loose balls.  Again, he's not the most explosive player, but he has lateral quickness and agility that could prove invaluable in defending the pick and roll.  He pesters on the perimeter and is active in disrupting the passing lanes.  He'll be quicker to bounce out and cover on the perimeter than his peers.  He'll also be less equipped under the hoop.

The Verdict

So I'm going to say no.  McGary seems like a project, and I think the Suns have enough projects and uncertainty on the team.  We need closer to a sure thing.  I realize that there is no such thing as a sure thing, but the back issues on top of everything else is enough to scare me off.  There are comparisons out there with Bill Laimbeer.  That's obviously top of the mark.  Having the career of Chris Mihm seems more realistic.  No, Todd Fuller or Loren Meyer.  Yeah, Fuller or Meyer, I'll let you pick.  Never forget though, how close we came to losing Todd Fuller.

On Thursday, Ryan Weisert made a very strong case for keeping the backcourt combo of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic together. What is most pertinent to his case is that the Phoenix Suns, who might be...

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After a renaissance in which he returned triumphantly to the NBA from a year-long issue with his heart, now Channing Frye has a big decision to make with regard to his future.

This is a big, big summer for the Phoenix Suns, and potential free agent Channing Frye is right smack dab in the middle of that uncertainty. The Suns want to acquire a star, preferably on the front line, to accompany rising All-Star talents Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.

Short term vs. long term

Frye has a player option for the 2014-15 of $6.8 million that he must pick up by June 23 - three days before the 2014 NBA Draft - or become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Frye has said that he wants to remain in Phoenix. He grew up in the valley, won a state title with St. Mary's in high school and then won big at UofA in Tucson and went 8th overall in the NBA Draft. After a fitful start, playing for the Suns has been the highlight of his professional career. The Suns supported Frye throughout his bout this heart issues, and welcomed his back with open arms when he got healthy.

Frye is certainly a fan favorite and one of the most recognizable Suns of the past half decade. But at 30 years old, this summer or next will be Frye's last chance at a long-term contract. He certainly wants some stability and might opt out to get that stability right now instead of waiting until next summer. As he learned two years ago, the future is unknown.

If Frye leaves, the Suns will need to replace his unique talents in order to be as successful next season. Luckily, he has to make that decision before the draft. If Frye opts out, the Suns could decide to take Adreian Payne at the 14th or 18th pick to ensure that they have the stretch-four skills on the roster in 2014-15 no matter what happens.

Frye has the perfect game for the two slashing guards - nicknamed here the Slash Brothers last December - as a stretch four who can open up the driving lanes by being a major threat behind the three-point line. The Suns offense hummed last year when Frye, Dragic and Bledsoe were healthy together. Defensively, Frye is not fleet of foot but he is an effective low post defender and nearly always makes the smart play as a team defender.

If Frye opts in (impact pre July 1)

If Frye opts in by June 23, he becomes trade eligible immediately. Frye and his $6.8 million salary, second highest on the team at the moment, can be traded for salary matching purposes if the Suns acquire a high-salaried player in the draft. Prior to July 1, the Suns have a mere $5 million in cap space to absorb salaries without trading players on the roster.

Frye's talents are relatively unique and in high demand in today's NBA. The stretch four is difficult to defend for any team, even the best defenses the league has to offer. He would be solid trade bait.

If Frye opts in (post July 1)

The Phoenix Suns have a very young roster, with 9 current players tied up to guaranteed contracts for the 2014-15 season, including Frye, plus three first round draft picks. Only Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker are restricted free agents.

That's 14 players under the Suns' control for the 2014-15 before free agency actually starts.

With Frye under contract for 2014-15, and factoring in all the cap holds, the Suns will have $19.7 million to spend on July 1 when the free agency period opens. That's a lot of dough to spend on an underwhelming free agent class, though it all depends on LeBron James' comfort with Miami's future.

Once the Suns match offers to Tucker and Bledsoe, that cap space could drop in half. But before that, it's certainly possible that the Suns could convince a big-name free agent to sign a contract first, and then Bledsoe/Tucker's contracts could exceed the cap thanks to Bird Rights.

However, the Suns will most likely use that cap space to absorb higher salaried players through trade, since there's little room for free agent bodies on the roster anyway. And again, Frye and his salary will be good trade bait in any trade for a star.

If Frye opts out (pre July 1)

If Frye opts out, he cannot be traded. And, his salary remains on the books until June 30, so there's no benefit to the Suns prior to July 1.

If Frye opts out (post July 1)

Frye's cap hold as of July 1, if he opts out, would be $9.6 million (150% of his last salary).

That would drop the Suns' available free agency money to $16.8 million on July 1. Still a huge chunk of change, and not likely enough of an impact to affect the Suns decision-making.

But if the Suns do see an opening to spend big on a free agent, they could renounce Frye's Bird Rights and free up the whole $9.6 million as cap space.

For example, let's say the Suns made no trades during the draft and took all their picks (including Payne) after Frye opts out. The Suns renounce their Bird Rights to Frye and free up $26.5 million in cap space while still having 13 players under their control.

That's enough money to slide a LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony right onto the team without giving up any talent at all. Or, they could sign a pair of free agents to $10+ million deals before matching any offers to Bledsoe and Tucker. In each case, Frye would be expendable anyway.

The Suns might renounce Frye's Bird Rights no matter what their free agency plans. There's no way Frye will get a contract in excess of $9.6 million, and there's no way the Suns would offer a fifth year or a bigger raise than any other team could offer. Frankly, in Frye's case, in this summer of cap space, the Bird Rights don't matter.

You could make the case that the team needs Bird Rights to do a sign-and-trade with Frye if he wants to sign with someone else, but I see that as unlikely. Still, it's one thing to consider if a playoff team over the cap wants Frye. The Suns might be able to snag a future asset in exchange for tying up their cap space for a few weeks.

My take

The timing of Frye's decision is very advantageous to the Suns. As you can see there's a lot of possibilities out there and he is the lynchpin on many of them.

Opt in, and he's trade bait for a superstar. Opt out, and the Suns are swimming in cap space big enough to sign a superstar if they want.

If you ask me, I hope Frye stays with the Phoenix Suns for the rest of his playing career, just at a lower cost. My ideal scenario has Frye opting out, which he needs to do to get a long-term contract, and re-signing with the Suns in mid to late July to a smaller three-year deal (say, three years, $15 million) in which the guaranteed money declines in year three.

The Suns will still have plenty of room to sign or trade for whoever they want. Frye can be a starter or backup at PF or C and will be happy with any of those roles. He will continue to provide about 10 points, 5 rebounds on 25-28 minutes a night with 40% three-point shooting. He will continue to be a great locker room presence, a great stabilizing influence on and off the court. You want players to emulate him. He's like Udonis Haslem in Miami. Like Nick Collison in OKC.

Channing Frye IS a Phoenix Sun, through and through.

Opt out and re-sign for less money over more years, Channing. Please. That's my perfect solution.

You just won't look right on your Harley without this jacket.

Truly some Phoenix Suns (stuff, gear, crap, memorabilia?) that I've never come across before.  There's a buyer out there for everything I suppose.  If you've got a 10 dollar bill in your pocket, there's something you can add to your collection.  Your Suns Swag for June 13th:

Barkley Bucks

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"It is mint condition.  It is legal tender."  It is....a sticker.  Show your appreciation of offensive rebounding and consumerism with a $25 purchase of "Barkley Bucks."  This 1993 offering went to benefit the Auburn University Foundation and the Charles Barkley Minority Scholarship Fund.  Obviously this holds no actual monetary value, but there's no better way to show the drive-thru attendant at In-And-Out that you're not there to mess around.  Hustle up with that double-double.  Just like Sir Charles.

Suns Original Practice Facility Floor Piece

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A very cool piece of Suns memorabilia here.  This is a genuine piece of the floor from the original Phoenix Suns practice facility at the Salvation Army Kroc Corps Community Center in South Mountain.  These were presented at the dedication for the new facility on May 18th, 2012.  The item has never been removed from the plastic package, and it's the bargain of the week.  It's available as a "buy it now" purchase for just ten dollars, after shipping.

Phoenix Suns Cologne Decanter

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Further evidence that you can take any seemingly worthless item, slap an NBA logo on it, and it's instantly sellable.  This can be the strangest part of your Suns collection for just 45 Barkley Bucks.  This decanter was at one time filled with Avon cologne.  A little research shows that Avon cologne is relatively inexpensive if you're so inclined.  We know what you won't fill it with though.  You won't fill it with Michael Jordan cologne.

Jeff Hornacek Game Used, Signed Jersey

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Game used, signed jersey from the current head coach of your Phoenix Suns, Jeff Hornacek.  At $744 this piece checks in considerably cheaper than many of the other game used Phoenix jerseys, and if you click the link, you'll notice the last listing has expired.  Expect this to be reposted at a little bit of a discount.  The '88-'89 Suns won 55 games, and knocked off Denver and Golden State before being swept by the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.  The 25 year old Hornacek appeared in 78 games, starting 73, and averaged 13.5 points and 6.0 assists.  The Suns were the highest scoring team in the league that season, averaging north of 118 points a game.

Phoenix Suns Motorcycle Jacket

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This is the sort of hideous memorabilia truly only sought after by the crazed collector.  If there is in fact a motorcycle enthusiast who is as passionate about his Suns as his Harley Davidson, he has to make an appearance on BSOTS.  $175 bucks and it's yours.  I'd be unqualified to tell you if that is a good price or not for something like this.  I can tell you it's a XXL and "Jeff Hamilton" makes many similar items.  No doubt this was one of their best sellers.  Right?  No?  Maybe not?  Maybe not.

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