163772490

The Suns are now 22-45 on the season, and if the draft were to happen right now and the ping-pong balls held their order, Phoenix would have the 4th and 30th pick in the first round. The draft order could still change, and almost certainly will between now and the end of the season...but it's most likely that the Suns will be picking somewhere between 3 -10, in which all of the teams in that range are currently within one or two games of each other.

What seems less likely to change is the Los Angeles Laker's recent playoff push. While it's possible Utah could stop spiraling downward and reclaim the 8th spot in the West, it's looking more and more doubtful; especially with the Lakers' inability to lose even without Kobe Bryant. It's most probable the Lakers will limp their way into the playoffs after all, and the Suns will likely have only one lottery pick this year.

However, don't fret, there are still plenty of talented prospects the Suns will have to choose from, and probably a couple of talented late first rounders that could still be available by the time the Suns make their second first round pick...but more on that another time.

For now, let's focus on who they will be looking at with their first pick in the draft. As it stands, the Suns' most pressing need is without question at the shooting guard position. However, the Suns could still choose to go in a different direction, or even make a draft day trade to acquire an additional pick. With that in mind, It's probably best to leave no stone unturned. So here are the top 10 prospects that I believe are the most likely candidates for the Suns to choose from with their first pick on draft day, who you should keep an eye on in the coming NCAA tournament:

Top 10 Suns Draft Candidates:

1. Ben McLemore - SG, Kansas:

McLemore will likely be the first pick in the upcoming draft after Nerlens Noel suffered an ACL tear earlier this season. McLemore would be a great fit for Phoenix, he has an uncanny feel for the moment and loves to take and make the big shots. He is super athletic and just a great scorer all around, plus he's a very good rebounder and has all of the tools to be a very good defender as well. McLemore could very well be the first player taken in the draft, so the Suns might have to get lucky and win the lotto in order to get him.

2. Nerlens Noel - PF/C, Kentucky:

Even with the ACL injury, Noel is simply too much of a talent for teams to pass up on. He's a long, athletic 7footer (close enough) who has a knack for blocking shots and very good defensive abilities in general...Although his offense is still raw, he has tremendous upside in that regard as well. If he's still available and one of the top shooting guards isn't, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Suns swoop him up and place him in the immediate care of Aaron Nelson and company.

3. Victor Oladipo - SG, Indiana:

Oladipo has been skyrocketing up the mock drafts lately, and even though he has come back to earth just a bit over the past couple of weeks, I fully expect him to be a top 5 pick by the time it's all said and done. At the moment, Oladipo would be my favorite pick for the Suns. However, that doesn't necessarily mean I think he would be their first choice, which is why I placed him third on the list. He brings defense, hustle, and athleticism that the Suns are desperately in need of from the two-guard position. I'm sold, but are the Suns?

4. Shabazz Muhammad - SG/SF, UCLA:

Shabazz has had some inconsistent games lately with his shooting percentage all over the place, but there is no doubting his talent. He is averaging over 18 points and 5 rebounds per game, and is a very capable defender as well. I've never been on the Shabazz-wagon this year, as I believe there are other more talented prospects, but I certainly wouldn't be too disappointed if he was the Suns' selection either.

5. Otto Porter - SF, Georgetown:

Porter is one of the less heralded top prospects in this years' draft class, and I'm not sure why he's not talked about more than he is. Although the Suns currently have a glut of SFs, Otto Porter is an NBA ready player who is very versatile and has a great overall game.

6. Cody Zeller - C, Indiana:

Cody Zeller is a very skilled big man who is capable of scoring on the interior and has nice range as well. He is also surprisingly athletic, and has a high motor and b-ball I.Q. He does need to add some strength, but his skills make him the most NBA ready big man in the draft.

7. C.J. McCollum - SG, Lehigh:

McCollum is probably best known for his 30 point game that helped Lehigh upset Duke in last years NCAA tourney. Unfortunately, McColum has been out with an injured foot that has caused him to miss the last two months, but prior to that, he was averaging 23 points and 5 rebounds per game, and may be one of the biggest steals of the upcoming draft. Most mocks don't have him ranked in the top 10 yet, but that could certainly change by the time the combine comes around.

8. Anthony Bennett - PF, UNLV:

Although undersized for a power forward at 6'8", there is nothing tweener about Bennett's game. He plays much bigger than his size and is one of the most physical, explosive big men in college. He is athletic and powerful, a good rebounder, and can score both inside and out of the paint. Power forward isn't a big need for the Suns, but they may have to take a hard look at Bennett if some of the other candidates are off the board.

9. Marcus Smart - PG, Oklahoma St.:

Marcus Smart is a big, strong, explosive point guard who seems to have the clutch gene in his blood. Smart will likely be a top 5 pick, but he would be a long shot for the Suns who already have all the point guards they need and have other positions to address.

10. Alex Len - C, Maryland:

Len certainly has the size for the NBA, and will likely be a top 10 pick. However, I am not sold on him despite his tremendous upside. Ive seen too much inconsistency and passivity from him this season which scares me away. Still, if the Suns ever entertain the idea of trading Gortat, they may find themselves in need of a big man, and Len could be the best option available.

Other notable players: Kelly Olynyk (PF/C, Gonzaga), Trey Burke (PG, Michigan), Mason Plumlee (PF/C, Duke), Alex Poythress (PF, Kentucky), Archie Goodwin (PG/SG, Kentucky)

These are just some of the players to keep an eye on in the coming NCAA Tournament, as I'm sure many other names may continue to rise and become part of the discussion. We at Bright Side of the Sun will be offering a comprehensive and in-depth breakdown and comparison of players at each position over the months to come, but this should at least give you an idea of who I currently believe would be the most likely candidates you should watch during the tournament who could end up on the Suns next season.

Poll
Who would you currently like the Suns to take with their first pick in the draft?

  315 votes | Results


The Suns would normally take 105 points as a great night. They would normally accept Michael Beasley’s 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting in 23 minutes as a much-needed lift. Except...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
20130316_ajw_au3_086

This was my first (and only) time watching the Suns in person this year. All I can say to you fans who have stuck it out and have (gasp!) paid to see them play is this: You are a better fan than I.

Defensively, the Suns were steamrolled by John Wall's speed (17 points, 11 assists) and Martell Webster's threes (34 points, 7-10 from three). But let's talk about the Suns offense for a sec.

It's painfully clear that this team has zero chemistry, no identity, and barely a clue as to what they want to do. They vacillate between any variety of mediocre options in the coaching equivalent of a trip to the Golden Corral buffet....and that's probably not being fair to Golden Corral.

Let's try Goran attacking off the dribble and "doing something". Let's try iso-Beasley. Let's go to O'Neal in the post. Let's go to Scola in the post. Even, let's go to P.J. Tucker in the post. (Seriously, this happened.)

I understand the Suns losing games. Heck, at this point do we even really want them to beat the Wizards in this lottery ball battle? But there's nothing about this team that says "well-coached". Then again, it's just one game and it is against the Wicked Wizards of the East.

Then the wheels, as they are prone to do, came off. -Seth Pollack

First Half:

As the Suns are prone to do, they kept the game pretty close and even sorta fun through about 18 minutes. Then the wheels, as they are prone to do, came off. The Wizards went on a 11-2 run to get separation. There was a time this season back when that other guy was coaching when the Suns would make a second half run and keep games like this close. Now? Not so much.

The only bright spots were Goran Dragic's feisty play (dude hates losing) and Jermaine O'Neal doing a few nice things. Oh, Michael Beasley had an amazing spin dunk on Nene but negated it by picking up a T for Taunting and any other number of boneheaded plays. I might find the dunk video because it was nice. Then again, I probably won't. (OK, I did.)

Second half:

The Suns were "only" down seven headed into the third quarter. Blame whatever you want for what happened next but what happened next was a 36-24 quarter. Game over.

I'm not even gonna lie. I started writing this with 10 minutes left in the game. Occasionally, I look up to see if anything important has happened. As of this second, the Suns are down 121-100...nope.

Beasley made his hometown debut as a Suns with 21 points and four turnovers. Dragic had 12 points and somehow managed to rack up 11 assists from a team that went 29 percent from three.

I'm going to get some postgame quotes and say farewell to some folks I know. I may or may not share those postgame quotes depending on their quality. Guessing they won't have much new to say after this one.

Hunter quotes:

- "I will take full responsibility for my team. But in the future it won't be a matter of practicing enough, it will be a matter of practicing until we get it right. We have a lot of things to fix, and there is only one way I know how to fix them, which is to get back in the gym and work on it."

- "If I could play Goran Dragic for 48 minutes I would, but I can't kill him that way. When he is out of the game guys have to take responsibility and step up, that's just the reality of it. But it may be a matter of me having to play him 48 mnutes and if I have to do that I will."

163780242

Both of these 22-win teams are coming off a Friday night game and both teams are well out of lottery contention. That's about where the similarities stop between the Washington Wizards and the Phoenix Suns.

Living in the D.C. area since August, I can tell you there was some real hope that this Wizards team might be ready to jump from perennial cellar dwelling to legitimate playoff contender. Then it was announced that John Wall hurt his knee and would miss the start of the season. Then Nene also went down. Next thing you know, the Wizards are 0-12 to start the season and any chance of this team competing for the postseason went up in a puff of smoke.

Is John Wall turning a corner?

John Wall smoking threes
Bullets Forever explores the development of John Wall after one of his best shooting games ever.

But John Wall and some of his other injured mates came back. Rookie Bradley Beal learned the ways of the NBA and began to show us all that incredible potential we saw from the Florida shooting guard. The Wizards are now 18-18 since January 1. That .500 record extended over a full season would have them right where the optimists predicted -- fighting for a playoff birth.

That's a lot of words to point out that the Wizards are on the rise. John Wall continues to mature. Beal's incredible talent slowly translates into success on the court (I think Beal will easily be as good as a healthy Eric Gordon and perhaps be in James Harden's class.) The knuckleheads like Andray Blatche, Nick Young and Jordan Crawford are gone and in their place come veterans like Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza

Baring some kind of miracle, it will be at least two or three years before your Phoenix Suns are where the Wizards are now.

Baring some kind of miracle, it will be at least two or three years before your Phoenix Suns are where the Wizards are now.

Game time: 7pm ET / 4pm PT on Fox Sports Arizona and NBALP

Prior Engagements:

This game is the first of two times these teams meet this season. The Wizards will be in Phoenix on March 20 to close out the much-anticipated season series.

The Suns beat the Wizards in their one meeting last year, 104-88. Wall had 10 points while Gortat (20 pts) and Frye (19 points and Nash (11 assists) led the Suns. Of course, none of those Phoenix players will be involved in Saturday night's affair.

Key Matchup:

Aside from the outcome's impact on the lottery ball chase, the most important and interesting aspect of this game is the point guard battle between Goran Dragic and John Wall.

Here's their season numbers via Basketball-reference.com.

Screen_shot_2013-03-16_at_1

Wall has the slight edge in raw numbers while Goran is the more efficient player.

Watching them play, it's obvious that John is the more athletic of the two, but that gap isn't overly large. Wall's biggest asset is his ridiculous speed and ability to get by pretty much anyone. He's got good vision and passing that makes him into a classic drive and kick point guard and he's surrounded by decent shooters in Webster and Beal and bigs that can finish in Nene and Okafor.

Goran is a much more well-rounded player. He's the better "pure point" and a much better shooter. He's playing this season with a less talented supporting cast.

I tend to think we will be sitting here in 10 years agreeing that Dragic is the better player. That's not a given by any means, especially if John can improve his shooting and puts up more games like he did Friday against the Hornets. He went 9-12 from beyond 10 feet for a very rare sharpshooting performance. The man has a total of six three's on the season.

Prediction:

I can see Wall and Dragic playing to a draw while the rest of the Suns struggle to keep up with the slightly superior supporting cast in Washington. Unfortunately, we may not get to see Bradley Beal.

Bullets Forever has the injury report and preview from the Washington side.

Wizards vs Suns preview: Will Wall's daggers blot out the Suns? - Bullets Forever
Trevor Ariza, A.J. Price and Bradley Beal are all up in the air for Washington.

Suns should field the same unit they did in Atlanta. I'll be at the game saying hi to my old pals.

Page 846 of 1773

846

Sponsored Ads