February 25, 2012; Charlottesville, VA USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward John Henson (31) dunks the ball over Virginia Cavaliers guard Joe Harris (12) in the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Tar Heels won 54-51. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

With the NBA Draft fast approaching on June 28, we at Bright Side of the Sun want to cover all the bases regarding the possible players who the Suns could draft with the #13th pick.

Depending on the decisions the Suns make in free agency this season, nearly every position could be considered an area of need.

Being that this is considered the most talented draft in recent years, there will likely be several very good players left on the board when it's time for the Suns to make their selection--and they'll likely have a very tough decision to make as to which player they think will be the best fit for this organization.

Although the Suns already drafted PF Markieff Morris with the 13th pick last season, the Suns still have yet to find that interior presence they have been searching for from the power forward position.

More on that later, for now let's look at one of the most likely candidates that the Suns could draft this season if they chose to take another power forward with the 13th pick this year...John Henson

John Henson is a 6'10.5", 216 lb junior PF from the University of North Carolina who is known for his tremendously long arms and shot blocking/rebounding ability.

Henson led the ACC in blocked shots this season averaging 2.9 blocks per game to go along with his 9.9 rebounds and 13.7 points.

John Henson measured out with an incredible 7'5" wingspan at the pre-draft combine measurements yesterday, and an astounding 9'3.5" standing reach...tying the highest recorded in this years' combine measurements along with Kyle O'Quinn, even including centers (Anthony Davis did not attend). And if those measurables alone aren't enough to pique your interest, Henson combines his freakishly long frame with excellent athleticism, a very high motor, great defensive instincts, and great character as well.

However, as with almost all players in this draft, there are some concerns as well. One needs only to look at Henson to immediately notice the most obvious issue...He still needs to add considerable size and strength to his very long and lanky frame to play with the big boys at the next level. The only other real knock on Henson is his limited perimeter shooting ability. But with everything he provides inside on both ends of the floor, I wouldn't be overly concerned with this aspect of his game.

So would Henson be the right player for the Suns to take with the 13th pick in the draft? Read on after the jump for a closer look.

Here are the stats from Henson's three seasons at UNC:


Basic Statistics

Year Min Pts FG FGA FG% 3Pt 3PtA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def TOT Asts Stls Blks TOs PFs
2009/10 15.8 5.7 2.4 4.9 48.6 0.1 0.5 22.2 0.9 2.0 43.8 1.6 2.8 4.4 0.9 0.7 1.6 1.2 1.1
2010/11 26.7 11.7 4.9 9.8 50.0 0.0 0.2 16.7 1.8 3.8 47.9 3.2 6.9 10.1 0.8 0.6 3.2 2.1 1.8
2011/12 29.1 13.7 5.9 11.7 50.0 0.0 0.0 2.0 3.9 51.1 2.5 7.4 9.9 1.3 0.6 2.9 1.3 1.6

Efficiency Statistics

Player Info Shooting Ratios Passing Ratios Defensive Ratios
Year Min PTs/g FGA/g Pts/Play TS% eFG% FTA/FGA 3PA/FGA Ast/g Ast/FGA A/TO PPR BK/g STL/g PF/g
2009/10 15.8 5.7 4.9 0.81 0.49 0.50 0.40 0.10 0.9 0.19 0.76 -3.85 1.6 0.7 1.1
2010/11 26.7 11.7 9.8 0.85 0.50 0.50 0.39 0.02 0.8 0.08 0.39 -5.68 3.2 0.6 1.8
2011/12 29.1 13.7 11.7 0.92 0.51 0.50 0.33 0.00 1.3 0.11 0.98 -1.57 2.9 0.6 1.6

Usage Statistics

Player Info Complete Metrics Possession Info Possession Ratios
Year Min PER EFF EFF/40 WS/40 Pos/g Tm Pos/g % Tm Pos Pts/Pos FGA/Pos FTA/Pos Ast/Pos TO/Pos
2009/10 15.8 20.7 8.5 21.6 11.4 6.0 73.0 8.3 0.95 0.81 0.33 0.15 0.20
2010/11 26.7 23.7 17.4 26.1 14.5 11.8 72.9 16.2 0.99 0.83 0.33 0.07 0.17
2011/12 29.1 24.7 19.3 26.5 14.5 12.5 72.9 17.1 1.10 0.94 0.31 0.10 0.10

Looking at these stats it's easy to see Henson's greatest strengths. His shot blocking and rebounding is outstanding, and he is also a very efficient scorer--mainly because he is aware of his limitations as a jump shooter and prefers to stick to his strengths in scoring around the rim.

Henson has worked on his post game over the last three years at North Carolina and has certainly developed some nice moves in the low post including a nice hook shot. He uses good fundamentals and footwork to help compliment his length and athletic ability, and he seems to have good balance, body control, and coordination as well. The one area of Henson's game I was surprised we didn't see more of was in the pick and roll. North Carolina used Henson very little in this respect but this could be a real strength for him at the next level given his length, athleticism, and agility.

However, despite his very respectable 13.7 point per game average this season, his offensive skill set overall still remains rather raw. Henson has done a very nice job at progressing with each season at UNC in this respect though, so it is very likely he will continue to do so in the NBA as well.

For now, Henson is mainly regarded as a defensive/rebounding prospect at the power forward position, which just happens to be an area of need for the Suns. Rookie power forward Markieff Morris did a fairly respectable job on the boards for the Suns last season, but his defense and interior scoring still left a lot to be desired. This is why I believe there is a chance the Suns could be looking to complement Morris with yet another rookie power forward like Henson.

Henson would give the Suns much of what they've been lacking in their interior defense and rebounding, while providing the Suns with yet another big man who runs the floor extremely well and shows great potential for the pick and roll. This would also allow the Suns the versatility to move Channing Frye back to reserve center position if re-signing Robin Lopez becomes too expensive.

Many mock drafts have John Henson going as high as the 9th pick to Detroit, and while many would consider him a top ten talent, the depth of this draft makes it possible that he could slip down to the bottom of the lottery depending on the needs of the teams and the players available. If Henson were to fall to the Suns, would Phoenix be smart to take him as possibly the best player available? Or should the Suns focus on more immediate needs like shooting guard, point guard, or small forward?

In my opinion, Henson could be just what the doctor ordered for the Suns to get taller, longer, and more defensively oriented. Because of Henson's unique physical attributes, skill set, solid character, and work ethic, there is very little chance for him to be a bust in the NBA--so this can also be seen as a relatively safe pick that also has a chance to pay off in spades. If Henson remains on the board when the Suns draft at #13, I believe he would be very hard for the Suns to pass up.


*All stats provided by DraftExpress.com

Poll
Would you be in favor of the Suns drafting John Henson with the 13th pick?

  166 votes | Results


Good length helps get the shot off.

NBA scouts, front offices, GMs, coaches and fans drool over a player's measurements. We can watch them play the game amongst their current peers, but a part of projecting them into a bigger, faster league is to look at how they measure up physically.

The Phoenix Suns have openly said they are looking at perimeter scoring in this draft. To a man, every player on the team, every coach and every front office person has said for a year and a half now that the Suns need more juice on the perimeter.

They need a guy who can not only hit the big shot in the closing minutes, but create it for himself too. Steve Nash should not be expected, at age 39, to create every single open shot for the team. The biggest hole on a holy roster is at SG. Ideally, the Suns would have someone who can take their opponent off the dribble, plus hit an open jumper, plus play defense at the other end of the court.

To do all those things, you need the tangibles. It's easier to defend big guards in the post if you're tall and thick. It's easier to deflect passes and disrupt the opponent if your arms are long. It's easier to catch the ball for a shot or a steal, and to wrestle the ball from an opponent if your hands are large.

The measurements came out yesterday for all prospects. Let's take a look at how the shooting guard prospects measured up.

First things first. Again, this is just the shooting guards projected in the 6-20 range today.

Height (with playing shoes on):

  1. Terrence Ross - 6'7"
  2. Jeremy Lamb - 6'5 1/4"
  3. Austin Rivers - 6'5"
  4. Dion Waiters - 6'4"
By comparison, the shooting guards currently in the Pacific Division, plus the best of the last decade:
  1. Gordon Hayward - 6'8"
  2. Nick Young - 6'7"
  3. Brandon Rush - 6'6 1/2"
  4. Kobe Bryant - 6'6"
  5. Randy Foye - 6'4"
  6. Mo Williams - 6'1"
  7. Brandon Roy - 6'7"
  8. Michael Redd - 6'6"
  9. Jason Richardson - 6'6"
  10. Dwyane Wade - 6'5"
  11. Richard Hamilton - 6'7"
  12. Joe Johnson - 6'7"
  13. Jason Terry - 6'2"
  14. Vince Carter - 6'6"
  15. Manu Ginobili - 6'6"
  16. Allen Iverson - 6'0"
  17. Ray Allen - 6'5"

As you can see, the better shooting guards are generally on the top end of the height scale for their position. It allows them to get their shot off over top of the defender, no matter how tightly they are being covered. None of this year's top SG prospects are even 6'6" except for Terrence Ross.

Height isn't everything though. A short neck can lose you an all-important inch or two but have no bearing on your overall length. No one shoots the ball with their head. Let's take a look at wingspan, which helps get that shot off. For reference, the average person's wingspan = height from floor to top of head.

Wingspan and standing reach, an indication of overall length, among the Suns' prospects:

  1. Jeremy Lamb 6'11" wingspan, 8'5" standing reach
  2. Terrence Ross, 6'7 1/4" wingspan, 8'5" standing reach
  3. Dion Waiters, 6'7 1/4" wingspan, 8'2" standing reach
  4. Austin Rivers, 6'7 1/4" wingspan, 8'1" standing reach
Ah, as you can see, each of these guys has long arms to help make up for their lack of traditional height. How does that compare to their peers in the Pacific, plus some of those "best of the decade" guys?
  1. Gordon Hayward, 6'7 3/4" wingspan, 8'7" standing reach
  2. Nick Young, 7'0" wingspan, 8'4.5" standing reach
  3. Brandon Rush, 6'11 1/4" wingspan, 8'8 1/2" standing reach
  4. Randy Foye, 6'6 1/4" wingspan, 8'1" standing reach
  5. Brandon Roy, 6'8" wingspan, 8'5" standing reach
  6. Dwyane Wade, 6'10 3/4" wingspan, 8'6" standing reach
  7. Mo Williams, 6'5 1/2" wingspan, 8'2.5" standing reach

Jeremy Lamb measures most favorably to these guys in terms of length, but again this class as a whole doesn't measure up in length with either their peers in the Pacific or the best in the game.

But is that a harbinger of doom? Not necessarily.

Length isn't everything. Brandon Rush's length is what got him drafted in the top 10, but he has not produced like a top 10 player. Nick Young has a sweet stroke, and his length likely helps him get his shot off over anyone, but he hasn't been a star either. Randy Foye and Mo Williams are quality players despite coming up short in length, though it took them a few years to find their way and neither is an all-star by any means.

Today, the prospects compete in terms of agility, and thickness also plays a part in the tangible as well. Don't forget those things. Oh yeah, and there's the overall talent thing.

Have at it folks. What do you think about length, when it comes to shooting guards?


Is this the guy for the Suns?

A week ago, I opined on the draft tendencies of the new Suns front office.

Their draft pick will remain a mystery until the final days, the tipping point simply being who the front office falls in love with. And judging by last year's draft, this front office doesn't like to be a jilted lover. They will likely hone in on a player under the radar, one not coveted by teams above them, unlikely to be snatched up right before their pick.

It seems that player has already been identified, given a promise ring and fitted for a chastity belt. If the reports are right, the only thing I was wrong about was how long it would take the Suns to fall in love.

Dion Waiters, 6th-man sophomore SG from Syracuse, has cancelled all pre-draft workouts and gone home for the month. And while Toronto has been linked to Waiters recently, one outlet says Phoenix is the rumored suitor.

Phoenix-waiters-kyler_medium

Waiters is ranked on www.espn.com as the #8 overall prospect, but that's by far the highest he's gotten. Two other respected draft sites have Waiters being drafted at #17 (draftexpress.com) and #18 (nbadraft.net).

Waiters definitely fits the bill of the Suns' needs: high-volume scorer, some PG skills in running the pick and roll, and high-energy ball-stealing defender all rolled into one. Some say he is undersized, but he is built solidly and at 6'4" in shoes he measures up just fine.

A "promise" is a little dangerous but not a bad plan if you really like a guy who is projected a little below your pick. If Waiters is there when the Suns pick, they get the guy they love. If Waiters is drafted before the Suns pick, that means someone else fell into the Suns' lap that wasn't supposed to fall there (Jeremy Lamb?). Works out well for Phoenix.

But the only reason Waiters would cancel workouts is if he (a) really loves the Suns and (b) has no interest in playing for a team higher in the lottery. Otherwise, why not work out for teams above the Suns, if that's who made the promise? If this is the Suns, they made a heck of a sales pitch.

The ESPN guy loves Waiters and has had him going to Toronto at #8 for weeks now.

Ford-waiters-8_medium

And here's a quote in an espn insider article that speaks to Waiters' upside:

A number of NBA scouts who I really respect have been telling me for more than a month that the real sleeper in this draft is Syracuse sophomore Dion Waiters.


One GM went even further. "There are really only two potential superstars in this draft. One is a sure thing -- freshman Anthony Davis. The other one is Waiters. He can be an electric scorer in the NBA. There's some Dwyane Wade in him."

So Waiters has a ceiling that's pretty high. 'How high' is the real question. Someone gave him a promise.

Was it Toronto? Probably not. Toronto is shopping the #8 pick right now, and you saw above that Bryan Colangelo is openly denying any promise. How can you promise anything when you're not even sure where you are drafting, if at all?

Phoenix, on the other hand, just promised the local reporters this week that they are almost certainly staying at #13, which I thought was odd when I read it on BSotS. Why no creativity? Why no "we're looking to move up, down, whatever to get the best player."

Well, now it makes sense. When you promise your draft slot, you can't be trading it away.

And like I wrote a week ago (no, I don't have any inside info), Blanks falls in love. He loved Morris a year ago and still does. In fact, that's the very reason you won't see the Suns draft a big man.

He loved Iman Shumpert a year ago and tried to pick up another draft pick in the 20s to take him. But when he was snatched up by New York at #17 after a late workout for them, Blanks was jilted and didn't even bother grabbing a pick for any other draftee.

So it all makes sense that Blanks and Babby would talk their beloved into NOT working out for anyone else. God forbid he wows Toronto in a workout this month. Or any other team looking for high-octane SG that either already has a pick in the top-12 or is willing to buy/trade for one.

Whoever made that promise to Waiters has to trust that no team above them would draft Waiters without a personal workout or interview. Last year, a couple of late first-round draft picks and their suitors played this game and it worked for the most part.

My guess is that Kyler is right and that the Suns are the suitor. It checks off all the boxes for the Suns and for Waiters. Waiters has a starting spot waiting for him, possibly next to Steve Nash. And if he's not ready to start, he can be a spark-plug off the defense-oriented bench. The Suns get the volume scorer they have coveted for two years now.

Here's some links on Waiters that are interesting:

Waiters has a promise, but not to Toronto; Raptors still like him anyway

Syracuse’s Dion Waiters shuts down predraft workouts, may have promise | SI Tracking Blog – Tracking MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and NCAA On Twitter

NBA Rumors & Draft News, Day 3

Dion Waiters profile | Draftexpress.com

Dion Waiters | NBADraft.net

Breaking down No. 2 Syracuse's zone efficiency - Luke Winn - SI.com

Poll
Is this a good move for the Suns, to promise their #13 pick to Dion Waiters?

  449 votes | Results


The return of Michael Redd to an NBA basketball court was one of the under-publicized feel-good stories of this season after two crushing tears to his ACL cost him more than two full season’s...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Mar. 08, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA;  Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) handles the ball against the Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill (33) during the second half at the US Airways Center.  The Suns defeated the Mavericks 96-94. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.

Summer has begun, classes are over and I have nothing but time on my hands (until I get a summer job anyway). So, armed with MySynergySports.com, I've decided to assign myself the task of going through the Suns' roster and breaking down the usage and success rate of each position group.

Centers: Offense - Defense

Power Forwards: Offense - Defense

I previously wrote about the offensive numbers for the small forwards, and they showed that Grant Hill struggled with his shot while Micheal Redd was a decent offensive spark off the bench. Oh, and we also learned Josh Childress didn't do a whole lot on offense. Now let's take a look at those guys on defense. I have a feeling the opposite will be true (well, except for Childress; he didn't do much on defense either).

First, allow me to explain in more detail the numbers I looked at. Here's a key for the terms Synergy uses:

Synergy Stat Definitions


PPP – Points Per Play. A "Play" is always ended with a shot attempt, turnover or getting to the free throw line. PPP is the player’s total points, excluding technical free throws, divided by their total plays.

Rank – This is where a player or team’s PPP ranks amongst their league peers. A player must have at least 25 plays for a given category in order to qualify for a league ranking.

%SF - Percent Shooting Foul. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team drew a shooting foul.

%TO – Percent Turnover. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team turns the ball over.

%Score – Percent Score. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team scores at least 1 point, including any resulting free throws.

So these numbers track the raw results. They don't factor in everything, which is where the interpretation begins and where watching the games live helps.

The offensive categories are Isolation, Pick-and-Roll Ball Handler, Post-Up, Pick-and-Roll Roll Man, Spot-Up, Off Screen, Hand-Off, Cut, Offensive Rebound, Transition, All Other Plays and Overall. On defense, the categories are the same minus the Cut, Offensive Rebound, Transition and All Other Plays categories as there aren't really any individual defenders assigned on these plays.

With that out of the way, let's dive into the numbers.

Grant Hill

Considering Grant Hill was asked to match up with the opponents' best scorer night in and night out, it shouldn't be a surprise that he defended isolations more than any other play (25.2%). He gave up 0.79 PPP, ranked 159, and opponents shot an even 35% against him.

He also spent a lot of time contesting spot-up shooters (23.5%) and did fairly well, posting a PPP of 0.83 for a rank of 74 and held shooters to 36.6% from the field. Fun fact: he didn't commit a single shooting foul in these situations. Growing up I was told never to foul a jumpshooter. Apparently Hill was taught the same thing.

Grant defended the ball-handler on pick-and-rolls 21.8% of the time, and his PPP against was the same as it was in isolations: 0.79. That earned him a 106 ranking. Hill only gave up 36.8% shooting and he forced turnovers on 14.9% of plays.

Those are his three most commonly defended play types, and the total plays he defended after that fall off. Next is players running off screens at 11%. His PPP was 0.82 and his rank was 52. Opponents shot 41.3%, and again he did not commit a single shooting foul. The man is a smart defender.

He defended post-ups on 9.7% of his plays, with a .73 PPP and a 56 ranking. Opponents only shot 13-35, and he forced a turnover twice as often as he committed a shooting foul.

Hill's overall PPP was 0.78, which only ranked him 78th. But he held opponents to 36.5% shooting and 32.3% from 3-point range. He only fouled 4.1% of the time, while he forced a turnover on 8.8% of his plays defended. His overall %Score against was 36.2%. Furthermore, opponents scored under 40% of the time on each of ply types with the exception of hand offs, a play type he only defended 21 times all year. Grant Hill may be an old man, but he's still a quality, versatile defender who makes his opponent work on every play.

Michael Redd

As for Michael Redd ... well, the numbers aren't very pretty. He only recorded 144 total defensive plays, so small sample size heavily factors in here.

Redd's most commonly defended play was the spot-up, with a whopping 43 total plays recorded. He gave up a .091 PPP to those shooters, which ranked him 148th. Second is isolation with 29 total plays, a PPP of 0.90 and a rank of 246. Those were the only two play types for which he qualified to be ranked.

He defended 25 plays where his man ran off a screen, and gave up 12-21 shooting, including 5-7 from beyond the arc. However, he did much better on his 25 plays against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, where he held opponents to 6-20 shooting and forced 3 turnovers.

Most of his numbers were mediocre to bad, and that combined with the small number of plays resulted in a 0.93 PPP and a rank of 369. Ouch. He gave up 40.2% shooting and 36.2% shooting from deep. Really, the only thin he was good at was defending rick-and-roll ball-handlers.

Josh Childress

Josh Childress actually recorded almost as many defensive plays as Redd did (132), and the results are just plain ugly.

He defended spot-up shooters on 40 plays, and gave up an even 1.00 PPP for a rank of 251. Opponents didn't really shoot that well against him, but they did make eight 3-pointers (on 25 attempts) and he committed three shooting fouls to bring the PPP up.

He defended 29 isolation plays, an again gave up a 1.00 PPP for an even worse rank of 297. Iso players connected on nine of 20 field goal attempts against him, and he sent them to the line on another 6 plays.

On 23 plays against the pick-an-roll ball-handler, he again gave up a 1.00 PPP and his opponents shot 10-19. He gave up a PPP of 1.11 when chasing shooters off of screens as they shot 9-16. He was eaten alive on his handful of attempts at defending the post.

Overall, his PPP was 1.02, which was good for a rank of 445. Opponents shot 45.8% and 41.7% from deep. He was actually slightly worse last season. So much for the defensive stopper we expected when he was acquired.

Conclusion

According to the numbers, Grant Hill is good, Michael Redd is bad and Josh Childress shouldn't get off the bench very often. I think this was pretty clear from watching the games though, so I'm not exactly telling you something you didn't already know.


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