Sam-bowie

After the last group workout General Manager Ryan McDonough grabbed the microphone and asked everyone in the media who the team should select at No. 5 which was met with a chorus of "Oladipo," Noel," "Sam Bowie," and "Wiggins." A few of those are not options.

All the prospects that the Bright Side staff has listed are available, but how will our arm-chair GM antics compare to the actual draft? We take it a step further and look at our ideal scenarios for all three picks, potential trades, and how the Phoenix Suns can win the draft.

Fifth Topic: Five Questions on the 2013 NBA Draft

Breaking the Ice: Who would you draft at No. 5 based on your feel for the 2013 NBA Draft?

Dave King: I would just simply take the best available of the top-6 - Noel, McLemore, Oladipo, Len, Bennett and Porter. I would put them in that order, with Porter last, since he most resembles what the Suns have taken the last few years: safe. Bennett has All-Star potential, which cannot be said for most of these guys. I'd be happy with any of them, and not be surprised if the sixth guy taken turns out to be the best pro. If you make me pick, I'd say the remainder of Oladipo/McLemore.

Jim Coughenour: I'm beginning to think that McLemore might be smoke screened down to the Suns. "Sources" have supposedly suggested his workout with the Suns was less than stellar. "Sources" say a lot of things don't they. If Oladipo rises based on his anytime/anywhere workout mentality, McLemore might be the Suns' lucky casualty. Works for me since Noel and he are my 1A and 1B. Either way, I think one of McLemore and Oladipo will be available at five which would make the pick easy for me.

Jacob Padilla: I like what each of the top 5 prospects (Noel, McLemore, Porter, Oladipo and Len) can bring to the Suns, so barring a Dion Waiters-esque surprise pick I'll be pretty happy with the outcome regardless. But based on how the draft projections have played out so far, I'm sticking with Victor Oladipo.

Kris Habbas: At this point in the draft process I am certain of two things: 1) Nerlens Noel will be gone and 2) Otto Porter Jr. will be gone. What that means is the Suns will get one of Alex Len, Ben McLemore, or Victor Oladipo on draft night. Ben McLemore is the most likely to fall so that is who the Suns will take home on Draft Night.

Richard Parker: I still believe the Suns' main concern, other than an overall lack in talent, is the wing positions. I would take whichever of the top two SGs, Oladipo and McLemore (notice the order I mentioned them in), is available at that spot. If both are gone, I'd take Len.

Sean Sullivan: I would draft Oladipo if available, no question. However, if he is gone hopefully McLemore slides. If not, Bennett may be our best option.

Second Pick: Who should the team draft at No. 30 based on your previous selection?

JC: Going small at five would mean it makes sense to go big at #30. At least one or two of Tony Mitchell, Lucas Nogueira, Jeff Withey and Mike Muscala should be available. Conveniently, that's the order I like them in.

JP: I think the big men will probably rise on draft night leaving a handful of shooting guards as the best option at 30. However, Ryan McDonough doesn't appear to be a fan of doubling up in the same draft. Therefore, I'll take Mike Muscala at 30. If the Suns do go big at 5, any of Ricky Ledo, Archie Goodwin, Allen Crabbe, Glen Rice Jr. or Tony Snell could be in play.

KH: The philosophy of General Manager Ryan McDonough is to not duplicate positions here and with McLemore on board they can go big here. Having said that the team was apathetic on the perimeter this season and the strength of the draft here are wings. Adding an Archie Goodwin, Tony Snell, or the player I am selecting here -- Allen Crabbe -- would be the route to take here.

RP: Based on my selection of either Oladipo or McLemore at #5, I would take Mike Muscala at #30. I really like what he can bring to the team in terms of polished offensive skill and rebounding. I also like Tony Snell or Reggie Bullock here (though I doubt either drops to this spot). While I can see Ricky Ledo's obvious talent, I think there are too many question marks about his game (plus drafting another SG here might be redundant per McDonough's policy).

SS: I say take the best player available. I really like Ledo, but there's a small chance he falls that far. Maybe Snell, Crabbe, or Muscala if he isn't.

DK: McDonough said he wouldn't duplicate positions, and assuming he doesn't acquire another first round pick we have rule out a shooting guard, since I settled on Oladipo/McLemore. Free falling lately is Rudy Gobert. I'd consider him as well as Jeff Withey.

Over the rainbow is the No. 57 pick, take a swing at that one...

JP: I'm going down with the ship on this one: Gregory Echenique for No. 57! Not only would we get a solid defender and rebounder, but we'd get a whole new population of fans from Venezuela.

KH: Going big is obvious, but going big while implementing the "draft and stash" technique would be wise. Bojan Dubljevic (Montenegro) fits that mold. Other big men here (non-European) include Colton Iverson, Ryan Kelly, and Brandon Davies.

RP: I like either Solomon Hill or Myck Kabongo at #57. Both bring solid skill to the table and either would be great value at the end of the draft. If we go the international draft-and-stash route, my pick is Bojan Dubljevic. Though I doubt his ability to defend NBA level big men (his athleticism and strength are poor), he is a polished Euro big man who has excelled at every level he's played at.

SS: Ryan Kelley. Perfect skill set for a late 2nd rounder. He can shoot threes, spread the floor, and is tall enough to get off his shot in his limited minutes.

DK: I have no idea, but I'll just say it should be someone who fits Marcin Gortat's profile - Euro who needs more seasoning but has the tools and talent to someday be an NBA starter.

JC: Carrick Felix would be great if he's available, but I have a feeling this pick will be on an international player. McMiracle can always grab an undrafted player if he's looking to fill a roster spot.

Time for a wrap-up: How does your draft look and how does it make the Suns better going forward?

KH: The team needed to upgrade the perimeter with athleticism, shooting, and scoring options. That, in theory, was accomplished with McLemore and Crabbe while adding a big man that can develop in Europe before coming over in a year or two in Dubljevic.

RP: I really like my draft for the Suns. With the SG of the future and a reserve big man or another wing at the #30 spot (who might spend some time in the D-League this upcoming season), I think the Suns would get two solid pieces as they continue to rebuild through the next couple years. They would finally have one or two coveted young pieces with actual talent (sorry Marshall and Morris bros). I would also hope that they seriously explore adding another young piece through a Gortat and/or Dudley trade. Getting young talent should be the biggest priority for this team at the moment.

SS: If the Suns draft my guys? Championship baby!!! Ok, maybe not...but still, that would be a heck of a score that would set them up nicely for the future.

DK: We all knew how Dave's draft shook out, and the reviews were mixed. I would personally give myself a C for my SB Nation mock draft, but at least the Suns are a lot younger and have a few guys who can develop into solid players for a playoff team someday.

JC: McLemore, Mitchell and Felix would instantly make the Suns a more athletic and entertaining team. McLemore might lead the team in scoring next season, Mitchell could be a steal after dropping due to regressing his sophomore season and Felix is an energy guy that will defend and run. This makes even more sense if the Suns... (foreshadowing next question)

JP: Oladipo at 5 gives us our new shooting guard to pair with Dragic. That duo will wreak havoc in transition and on defense. Muscala at 30 gives us a productive big man that can play either frontcourt spot off the bench. And Echenique gives the Suns a practice player that will push every big he faces to work hard and get better. It's a well-rounded draft that upgrades our talent, giving us at least a new starter and another good rotation player.

Should the Suns be active in trades on Thursday?

RP: Definitely. We have a couple pieces on our team that would be valuable to other teams but don't quite fit in with our rebuilding state. I wouldn't mind if Dudley wasn't traded but I think Gortat should definitely be dangled in a potential deal on draft day. This draft is unique in the way it lacks top-flight talent yet is very deep, so there is bound to be lots of movement during the draft. The Suns weigh their options and could find good returns for an asset or two.

SS: Yes! Trade assets for picks like all smart rebuilding teams do. Just don't get the short end of the stick on the deals.

DK: Absolutely!! Trade anyone and everyone. Let's play Roullette!

JC: Trade back into the lottery for a second pick, most likely between #10 and #13. I have to imagine the Suns have a big they like there (even if my fourth best, McCollum, isn't on the board). I'd be exploring mid first in case someone drops. This team needs to get young and clean house. I'll be disappointed if the team stands pat and aimlessly wanders to the podium with a three pick vanilla draft.

JP: Heck yes they should be active. I think most Bright Siders will be disappointed if the Suns simply stand pat on draft day after all the Gortat trade discussion. I'm not saying they have to be as active as Dave was in our blogger mock draft, but I'd at least like to see them put in as much work as Dave did and explore every possibility.

KH: You cannot sacrifice the future for immediate gratification to suffice an infatuation. That would be the case if the team mortgaged their assets (Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat) for another pick this year. Make the smart trade, but save an asset for the potential of adding a 2014 pick to the fold later.

BONUS: How can the Suns leave the draft as the biggest winners?

SS: By adding the best talent available and stockpiling picks. I'd also like to see us acquire at least one more additional pick for 2014 as well.

DK: The Suns can be the draft's biggest winners if two things happen: (1) they aggressively pursue trades for a couple more first rounders and (2) they take guys who "fell" to them, that should have been drafted higher. Coming out with a future 2-3 starters on a good team (or, the assets to use in acquiring good starters) would be a dream come true.

JC: With Gortat no longer a Sun (even on a handshake deal).

JP: We won't know for at least a year or more likely a few years who truly won this draft, but the Suns can earn a favorable grade in the post-draft analysis by pulling off a grade similar to what I laid out: having a balanced draft by picking a couple different positions and filling a few holes with good prospects. Pulling off a good trade wouldn't hurt either.

KH: Do what I suggested? In all seriousness drafts are not won on draft night. The winners and losers column are for clicks, not for actual analysis the night of and day after the draft. Keep that in mind as you spend the 48 hours after the draft scouring the internets to determine whether or not the team "won" or "lost" this draft.

RP: This is arguably the high point of the season for every Suns fan. To come out as draft victors, the Suns need to add two or three players young players that fans can get excited about, with one bonafide starter that will immediately become many fans' favorite player (at least until next year's draft pick). Adding young talent should be the primary motive for any move McDonough makes, and hopefully we come out of the draft with exactly that. Success in this draft won't translate to success on the court next season, but it will go a long way in turning the Suns into winners again.

PHOENIX – “Kendall was a great host. That was my best friend in school. He was generous. He’s been a great host. He picked me up from the airport on time, like I told him to.” – Reggie Bullock...

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PHOENIX – “Kendall was a great host. That was my best friend in school. He was generous. He’s been a great host. He picked me up from the airport on time, like I told him to.” – Reggie Bullock...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
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Phoenix Suns fans have not experienced a game-changing draft pick since Amare Stoudemire was taken with the ninth pick in 2003. Names like Jackson Vroman, Alando Tucker and several guys named "Cash" were foisted upon the Suns for years under the guise of "basketball reasons" while the Suns were one of the best and youngest teams in the NBA.

In three of the past ten years, the Suns did not even bring a first round pick onto the team: 2005, 2006, 2010. Two other years, the Suns sold off at least one first round pick while keeping another: 2004 and 2007.

That's five of the past ten years coming out of the draft with less than they started with.

In recent years, the Suns kept their picks and took safe, if not impressive, players, though the grades were often good enough to keep a scholarship. Robin Lopez. Goran Dragic. Earl Clark. Taylor Griffin. Markieff Morris. Kendall Marshall.

After hitting rock bottom with that approach in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns now have a new General Manager in charge of making draft day decisions and a renewed commitment to build the team through the draft. Ryan McDonough, the new Chief Talent Officer, has surrounded himself with good talent evaluators who embrace hard work, lots of video and in-person scouting as well as analytics in deciding who to draft when.

Let's stack up the Celtics draft history since McDonough was part of their front office, compared to the Phoenix Suns history over the past ten years. McDonough was not the main decision-maker in Boston at any point in the past decade, but he has been openly credited with the success of their 2006 and 2010 drafts.

Brace yourselves, Suns fans. Let's just say I'd rather have had the Celtics front office over the past ten years than the Suns' when it comes to the NBA Draft.

*all "misses" based on career Win Shares of players still on the board when Boston/Phoenix picked, per basketball-reference.com.

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With a lot of youth already on the Suns roster (Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa all under 23), Bryan Colangelo and new owner Robert Sarver decided to forego the 7th overall pick in favor of free agent dollars (traded for #31 and 2006 first-rounder). That summer, after the youth won only 29 games, the Suns supplemented them with veterans: PG Steve Nash (Dallas, $60 million) and SF Quentin Richardson (Clippers, $48 million). The Suns were also planning to pay Joe Johnson a potential extension (Suns offered $45 million that summer, Johnson wanted $50 million). You can't knock the plan too much, since the Suns went on a run with that core to the tune of 3 WCFs in 6 years. Still, Luol Deng or Andre Iguodala would have looked good in orange and purple after JJ left just a year later.

Boston, on the other hand, was just then getting their youth on. These three picks played a huge part in their eventual NBA Championship. The Boston "misses" are sketchy. You could argue none were better than what Boston took, even though they didn't all spend their careers in Boston. Three years later, West was part of the Ray Allen trade while Jefferson was turned into Kevin Garnett.

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The 2005 Draft wasn't a boon of talent where the Suns and Celtics were picking, but there were still a lot of talented players left when they each picked.

Phoenix, who had just finished 62-20 with one of the leagues youngest rosters, totally punted on the draft. This was Bryan Colangelo's last draft for the Suns (he left for Toronto before the end of the 2005-06 season). The Phoenix core was still young and (they thought) intact. But a LOT of money was about to be thrown around, so the Suns sold off their draft pick. Sarver was looking at spending as much as $180 million in extensions that summer that summer alone.

Both Amare Stoudemire AND Joe Johnson were eligible for, and wanted, MAX extensions. No way was that going to happen without Sarver putting his head in a vice. Two max extensions in one offseason is unheard of. Seriously. But Sarver was willing to spend most of it, at least. He wanted to keep JJ, but at $60 million rather than $90 million.

Joe Johnson, feeling disrespected, forced a trade to someone who would give him the max, so the Suns relented and at least got Boris Diaw and two future #1s for him. Amare signed his $90 million extension three months later, just a week before season-ending microfracture surgery.

The Suns traded four different draft picks that year, though two had been traded at least a year before: #13, acquired years earlier, was traded to Charlotte in 2004 in order for them to select Jahidi White in the expansion draft. #21 (Nate Robinson, which had been acquired for Luol Deng, was used to acquire Kurt Thomas), and #57 (Marcin Gortat, years away from playing in the NBA) were traded during or soon after the draft. Their own #30 had been traded in 2003 for the rights to Leandro Barbosa.

For Boston, high-schooler Gerald Green was a boom/bust player who turned out to be a bust. There were so many better players than Gerald Green in that draft. Ryan Gomes was a second-round steal and played well enough to be part of the Garnett trade as well.

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2006 was Ryan McDonough's coming out party in the Boston front office. He was sure that Rajon Rondo was one of the two best players in the entire draft and he was absolutely right. No one contributed more Win Shares since being drafted in 2006 than Rondo.

Randy Foye was taken at #7 by Boston and bandied about that day, ultimately ending up in MInnesota. The Celtics came out of it with Sebastian Telfair (2005, #13) and Theo Ratliff.

The Suns, once again, punted. Mike D'Antoni led the Draft effort as the interim GM after Colangelo left, and D was never much for drafting end-of-the-bench guys. He liked his 8-man rotation, which was about to be a 9-man rotation with Amare returning healthy. The Suns had just made their second straight WCF and would be a favorite for the 2007 Finals.

Plus, a year after extending Amare the max, the Suns had two more youngsters ready for extensions. Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw. were both up for extensions, and got them to the tune of $14 million per year ($75 million total), starting a year later.

With Amare's contract kicking in, the Suns were bleeding money. They traded both picks away for cash, the first of which not only was the best player in the 2006 draft, but was a pick that had come from Altanta in the JJ trade a year earlier. Technically, the Suns got a 2007 first rounder from the Celtics for Rondo, but the Suns sold that one too.

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In 2007, the Suns had just had their hearts broken by San Antonio for the second time in 3 years, falling short of the WCF despite being supremely talented. Now, the tax bill was coming due. Both Barbosa and Diaw had been extended for a total of $14 million per season, and Amare's salary was growing each season as well. Add in Nash and others and the Suns were looking to be well into luxury tax territory.

Suns part-owner Steve Kerr took over the front office and promptly sold off three first round draft picks (#24 in 2007 that had been acquired for Rajon Rondo, plus unprotected first-rounders in 2008 and 2010) as well as Kurt Thomas. All to save money for the tax bill on the Suns' remaining players. The Suns were a top-10 spending team for several years in a row during this period.

And that's not even considering Shawn Marion, who was up for an extension of his own that would start in 2008. Marion's tenure and previous max contract would require more than $20 million per year if signed off. Sarver was already paying gobs of lux tax money. So Steve Kerr politely told Marion that only a handful of guys in the league deserve max money. Marion did not like that.

*Special footnote: the Suns ALMOST had the 8th pick in the 2007 Draft from Atlanta, but the Hawks got the ping-pong balls to jump to #3 and keep their pick. The Suns reportedly really wanted Joakim Noah to replace Kurt Thomas... When the Suns didn't get that pick, it rolled over to 2008.

For Boston, the summer of 2007 was a watershed moment in their franchise. After finishing 5th-worst in the NBA, they traded the #5 pick and others for Ray Allen. Then they traded Al Jefferson and others for Kevin Garnett. These trades were fueled by the Celtics draft success in recent years.

In a span of one offseason, the Celtics went from bottom-5 in the league to Finals contender to NBA Championship winner.

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The Suns finally got more payback than Boris Diaw from the JJ trade when they took Robin Lopez in 2008. But by this time, the bloom was off the rose of these Suns. They'd already seen it wilting, and tried to jumpstart the team by trading Marion for Shaquille O'Neal. It was a misfit from the start, and the Suns went home in the first round.

Lopez was a nice pick, but look at the picks that came after that. Several of them would have been as good as Lopez. Note: Serge Ibaka *could* have been taken with the Suns' own pick later in that round, but it had already been sold off with Kurt Thomas the year before.

Less than a week after winning a thrilling Finals over the Lakers, Boston came into the draft with a hangover and promptly fell asleep with the phone off the hook. They missed on a boatload of talent to take a guy who would hardly ever play in the NBA. Shows what can happen when you think you've got it all, and a late first can't possibly help your team.

Okay, that's enough bloodshed for the day. Tomorrow, I will recap Phoenix and Boston's 2009-2012 drafts. It's important to look at recent events as a barometer for success in the immediate future.

In summary, Boston did better in the 2004-2008 drafts than the Phoenix Suns did.

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As last year's winner I would like to pass the baton to another great champion. I was basically an abject failure in defending my crown, but repeating can be hard. Especially without a Chris Bosh to score zero points in a series clincher.

Thanks again to everybody for participating. Here are the final standings:

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