Kris Habbas from NBA Draft Insider joins the Sunscast to preview the 2012 NBA Draft. We discuss what the Phoenix Suns might do and the surprising appearance of PF Arnett Moultrie as their possible pick. Could the Suns be looking to trade one of their existing big men? What other trades might be in the works? Who's the sleepers and potential busts of the Draft?

Hosted by Bryan Gibberman and Seth Pollack and presented by Arizona Sports 620 and SB Nation Arizona.

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Is this the guy?

The draft is tomorrow night and the Suns appear to be a little island in the middle of stormy seas of potential trades and movement. Occassionally, rumors touch the Suns' #13 pick, but so far its nothing more than water lapping up on their shore and fading back into the sea.

Just above the Suns, the Hornets, Blazers and Bucks are all (according to the press) interested in moving either up or down in exchange for either players or draft picks. Just below the Suns, the Rockets now have 3 of the next 5 picks (14, 16 and 18) in an attempt to parlay a seemingly endless stream of assets into an all-star of some sort.

Meanwhile, there's not a peep about the Suns. draftexpress.com and espn.com have updated their mock drafts over and over this week, each time either leaving the Suns' pick alone or simply plopping the next best player into it. Somehow, the Suns are keeping their intentions so close to the vest that even rival GMs aren't leaking info about them.

What DO we know? (or at least, what do we think we know?

Let's make a little bullet-point list

  • The Suns need to upgrade talent all over the board. Not one position is set for the next several years
  • Lance Blanks is saying they will draft the best player on their board, no matter what position the guy plays.
  • The Suns are most devoid of talent at the Shooting Guard position. The top SG prospects are: Beal, Rivers, Waiters, Ross and Lamb
  • SG Bradley Beal will be off the board within the first 4 picks
  • SG Austin Rivers refused to visit the Suns, only visiting 5 teams this month (by contrast, John Henson visited about 17 teams). He is now projected to be off the board by #10.
  • SG Terrence Ross, whose stock is still somewhere between 10-19, also refused to visit the Suns. No idea why he would do anything to limit his income opportunities, but it is what it is.
  • I find it hard to believe the Suns would draft anyone who refused to visit for a private workout and interview, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
  • SG Dion Waiters - who reportedly got a lottery promise from the Suns and cancelled all workouts immediately afterward - is still projected to be picked either 6th, 7th or 8th and won't get past 11th even in a worst-case scenario.
  • That leaves SG Jeremy Lamb as the only talented SG who might be both available at 13 AND enamored with the idea of playing for the Phoenix Suns. A top-7 talent who can shoot and defend, he is dropping due to questions about his effort level and inability to be an alpha-dog.
  • If Steve Nash leaves, the PG position becomes a bigger problem than SG as only Sebastian Telfair is under contract and even he knows he's not a starter on a competitive team
  • PG Damian Lillard is the best PG prospect, but he is also projected to go no later than #11 and had not visited the Suns for a workout.
  • PG Kendall Marshall, who's visited the Suns twice now, is dropping like a stone because teams fear he doesn't have the athleticism to defend NBA PGs, limiting his upside. He is now projected to go in the 18-25 range, unless the Suns pop him at 13.
  • Given the info above - that Lamb and Marshall may be the only backcourt options for the Suns on draft night - the Suns are now expanding their search to the front line to find the best talent.
  • After Beal goes top-5, if Waiters, Lillard, Rivers and Ross all get picked between 6-12 then SOME big man might drop further than expected
  • To that end, the Suns brought in Cs Tyler Zeller and Meyers Leonard, PFs Perry Jones, John Henson and Arnett Moultrie for a big workout 10 days ago. Four of these guys are solidly in that 6-12 group with the wings, Lillard and Drummond, while Moultrie is a late-riser.
  • Note that they did NOT bring in Terrence Jones, Jared Sullinger or Andre Drummond, even though one or two may be available at 13
  • They also did not bring in late-riser small forward Moe Harkless.
  • Again, I'll say it's unlikely the Suns would draft a player they didn't see in person in Phoenix (Waiters being the only exception, I guess).
  • The Suns brought Arnett Moultrie back for a second look a week later, and now rumors are running around that the Suns would not mind drafting Moultrie if their other targets are gone. It's possible the Suns see Moultrie as a top-10 talent. Everyone else has him in the 14-20 range, though Detroit is reportedly thinking about popping him at #9.
  • Last year, word leaked a few days before the draft that the Suns liked Markieff Morris and Iman Shumpert, both projected to go slightly lower than 13 on draft night (though still top-20). The leak turned out to be quite true, so there's no evidence the Suns are good at smokescreens.
  • The Suns apparently are interested in buying another draft pick later in the draft, presumably to use on one of this month's Phoenix visitors: Marshall, Moultrie, SF Jeffrey Taylor, PF Andrew Nicholson or C Fab Melo.
  • As far as we know, no other late-first guys were brought in for private workouts.

So that's what we know, or at least what we think we know.

What we DON'T know is what the heck is going to happen before and after the Suns' pick(s). Draft picks in play right now: 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18 and so on down the line.

The only teams not rumored to be shopping their picks at the moment: New Orleans at #1, Detroit at #9 and the Suns at #13. Small company.

Another thing we don't know is, if the Suns really do want to draft Moultrie, how will they give him playing time?

Would they let Lopez go, move Frye to backup C and let two youngsters man the PF position? Moultrie has been very clear that he does not like to play C.

Or, does that mean they would keep Lopez, and trade one of their bigs (Morris, Gortat, Frye) to make room for Moultrie?

And finally, what we don't know we don't know is what the Suns draft board really looks like. What are they thinking?


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Could Moe Harkless be the right fit for the Suns?

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.

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

We have spent a lot of time covering the more popular draft choices who the Suns could draft at #13, such as: Kendall Marshall, Terrence Ross, Dion Waiters, Jeremy Lamb, John Henson, etc...but what about some of the lesser known prospects who could still end up wearing the purple and orange as well?.

Of all the possible draftees, I selected four additional players who have all worked out with the Suns this summer and who could be on Phoenix's radar come Thursday night.

Meet the dark horses of the Suns' draft: Fab Melo, Andrew Micholson, Meyers Leonard, and Moe Harkless.


Continue reading after the jump for a breakdown of these less talked about prospects.

Fabricio (Fab) Melo, C, Syracuse: Melo is a 7'0" sophomore center from Syracuse known for his strength and physical play along with his long wingspan, shot blocking, and post defense. The Brazilian native is still very raw offensively, and he has also had some conditioning issues over his two seasons at Syracuse...especially in his freshman year. However, his size and raw physical ability make him a sought after prospect in this draft and could be an option for a team looking for a mid to late first round project who could become a force at the next level

Here are his stats from Syracuse over the last two seasons:

Basic Statistics

Year Min Pts FG FGA FG% 2Pt 2PtA 2P% 3Pt 3PtA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def TOT Asts Stls Blks TOs PFs
2010/11 9.9 2.3 1.0 1.7 60.7 1.0 1.7 60.7 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.8 36.0 0.7 1.3 1.9 0.2 0.3 0.8 0.8 1.8
2011/12 25.4 7.8 3.3 5.8 56.6 3.3 5.8 56.6 0.0 0.0 1.3 2.0 63.3 2.7 3.2 5.8 0.7 0.5 2.9 1.4 2.8

As you can tell from his stats, there is nothing Melo does exceptionally well, beyond his shot blocking ability. He is an average rebounder and a pretty good defender, but he is still developing offensively and his understanding of the game and basketball I'Q. still has a way to go.

Although they did bring him in fgor a workout, I don't believe the Suns will have much interest in Melo unless he drops significantly to the late first round and the right opportunity comes along to acquire a pick.


Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure: Nicholson is a 6'10" senior power forward from St. Bonaventure known for his great defense and his rebounding/shot blocking. Nicholson has a tremendously long wingspan measuring in at 7'4" and huge hands. He uses both of these physical attributes well in his game to block and grab rebounds by the bunches. Although he is mainly known for his defense and rebounding, he is also a skilled offensive player as well. He shoots the ball very well for his size and has three point range as well. Still, he also scores effectively in and around the paint and loves to dunk the ball when given the opportunity.

Here are his stats from his four years at St. Bonaventure:

Basic Statistics

Year Min Pts FG FGA FG% 2Pt 2PtA 2P% 3Pt 3PtA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def TOT Asts Stls Blks TOs PFs
2008/09 25.1 12.5 5.1 8.5 60.2 5.1 8.5 60.2 0.0 0.0 2.3 3.7 61.3 2.1 3.9 6.0 0.2 0.6 2.7 2.1 3.3
2009/10 30.2 16.4 6.6 11.7 56.4 6.6 11.7 56.4 0.0 0.0 3.2 4.2 76.0 2.4 4.7 7.1 0.5 0.2 1.8 1.8 3.0
2010/11 33.8 20.8 7.6 13.4 57.1 7.5 12.6 58.9 0.2 0.7 26.1 5.3 7.5 71.1 1.7 5.6 7.3 1.0 0.5 1.5 3.2 3.0
2011/12 30.1 18.5 6.9 12.0 57.1 6.2 10.4 59.3 0.7 1.7 43.4 4.0 5.2 77.6 2.6 5.8 8.4 1.0 0.7 2.0 2.5 2.8

You can see that he seemed to peak in his offensive production his junior year and maintained that efficiency in his senior season. The one area he improved at offensively was his three point shooting where he shot an impressive 43% last season...pretty good for a guy known mostly for his defense and interior scoring.

With his size, his stats, and his all-around production on the court, some of you may be asking why he isn't ranked higher as a prospect. I think it has a lot to do with his school. Although the Atlantic 10 isn't known as a heavyweight conference, he played against schools like Xavier and Temple on a regular basis and also put up good numbers against teams like Syracuse, Florida St., Ole Miss, and Illinois during his time at St. Bonaventure as well.

While Nicholson was considered a draft sleeper early on, he has been rising in the mock drafts recently after several impressive workouts. He is now being considered as a mid first round pick and possibly a late lottery prospect as well.


Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois: Leonard is a 7'1" sophomore center from Illinois known for his impressive physique and athleticism to go along with his size. Meyers Leonard has a ton of potential to blossom into a dominant center at the next level. He has a 7'3" reach to go along with his quickness, strength, athleticism and agility...and is easily the most overall physically impressive prospect in the draft.

Here are his stats from his two seasons at Illinois:

Basic Statistics

Year Min Pts FG FGA FG% 2Pt 2PtA 2P% 3Pt 3PtA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def TOT Asts Stls Blks TOs PFs
2010/11 8.2 2.1 0.8 1.8 48.3 0.8 1.7 49.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.5 70.6 0.3 0.9 1.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.8 1.5
2011/12 31.8 13.6 5.3 9.1 58.4 5.3 8.8 60.4 0.0 0.3 9.1 2.9 4.0 73.2 2.3 5.9 8.2 1.3 0.5 1.9 2.1 2.9

Looking at his stats, you can see he took a big step this season in his minutes played and his impact for Illinois this season. He shot 58% from the field averaging 13.6 points a game by scoring mostly in the paint, and also did a fairly good job on the boards as well. However, Leonard is still extremely raw offensively and still needs to develop as an overall player. He also seems to lack the aggression and passion at times that could make him the dominant player that he has all the physical tools to be.

Leonard is going to be a first round pick based almost solely on his potential. He has risen dramatically in the mock drafts based on his measurables and is now considered a lottery prospect. Any team that drafts him is taking a chance on their ability to help him develop and become a consistent NBA player. He still has a long way to go in this regard, but if he can add and refine his skills he could be considered the steal of the draft in years to come.


Moe Harkless, SF, St. Johns: Harkless is a 6'9" freshman small forward from St. Johns who is known for his athleticism and ability to finish at the rim. He is a fast, quick, and explosive player who uses his athleticism and length to attack the basket on offense and grab rebounds on defense. He is very good at running the floor and scoring in transition and could give the Suns the added athleticism, speed, and youth they so desperately need.

Here are his stats from last season at St. Johns:
Basic Statistics

Year Min Pts FG FGA FG% 2Pt 2PtA 2P% 3Pt 3PtA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def TOT Asts Stls Blks TOs PFs
2011/12 36.1 15.5 6.0 13.3 45.2 5.5 10.9 50.6 0.5 2.5 21.5 2.9 4.3 67.6 2.8 5.9 8.6 1.5 1.6 1.4 2.5 2.3

Some of the aspects of Harkless's game that don't show up well in the stats are his style of play, in which he loves attacking the defense and getting to the rim to score most of his points. The problem is, he is a very inconsistent jump shooter and especially struggles from behind the arc, as you can see from his very poor 21.5% three point percentage. Harkless has also been criticized for not playing hard enough on defense, which the Suns are now trying to change within their team mentality as well.

If the Suns were to take a chance on Harkless, it would be based on his ability to attack the rim and run the floor. He can certainly continue to develop his shot over time, and I think he will, but he is not ready to step out on the floor and spot up on the perimeter like the Suns typically ask of their wings. Harkless is still a very young player who has a ton of upside and potential though, so don't count him out, especially if the Suns manage to end up with an additional first round pick somehow.




Of all the above prospects, Harkless is probably my favorite of the group based on the skill set that he provides. However, all of these players are considered borderline lottery picks, and they all have aspects of their game that the Suns are looking for.

The Suns certainly have their own favorites heading into the draft, and we won't know for sure who they value over the others until a selection is made. While I wouldn't say the chances of drafting any of the above players is all that high, it could come down to the Suns taking one of these players if their primary targets are already off the board.

Poll
Which of these four less talked about draft prospects would you pick if the Suns' other choices were no longer available?

  243 votes | Results


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