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:
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
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
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
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):
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:
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?
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.
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.
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: