Reportedly, the Phoenix Suns will be scouting both players and coaches this weekend. The Chicago NBA Draft Combine pulls together all the who's who and who-wants-to-be's of the NBA into one place (unless you're a blogger who's working for free).
New Suns GM Ryan McDonough has brought an inherited Suns entourage to Chicago with him, not yet dotted with any of his own peeps. Judging by how the Suns have evaluated players the last few years, we can only hope that McDonough is the jack-of-all-trades he's reported to be.
McDonough not only has to pick out two diamonds from the rough (a top-7 pick and a #30 overall) of these draft-eligible players, he has to find a new coach as well.
While McDonough will likely talk to several potential coaches this weekend, don't expect any hirings to happen until more teams are eliminated from the NBA playoffs. One of Mike Malone (Golden State) or Mike Budenholzer (San Antonio) will be busy for at least two more weeks. Brian Shaw (Indiana) could be busy for another month himself. The Suns coaching list could easily contain assistants on the HEAT or Grizzlies as well.
Other candidates, such as Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan and J.B. Bickerstaff, are already available and may have already gotten interviews with McDonough, but we have no idea. Nothing's leaked to the media yet.
Keep your ears open
Measurements will tell us just how small Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke are, while athletic drills will tell just how un-athletic Shabazz Muhammad is. Those results are crtiical to the early draft evaluation process.
Other than that, NBA front offices get a chance to interview players for the first time. In these interviews, you get a feel for the kind of person they are. It's your first chance to glimpse their inner being, their true self.
McDonough and staff will be busy with all 61 players this weekend. They currently have picks at the top of round one, the bottom of round one and the last third of round two. That's the most picks the Suns have had in years. And that's only if they stay exactly where they are today. Remember in 2006, the Celtics loved Rajon Rondo so much they acquired the Suns #21 pick to take him after watching him drop.
Every single player here counts and might just be drafted by the Suns in June.
Keep your eyes open and ears tuned to the news.
Another interesting factoid... Marbury's similarity scores for win shares link him to players such as Isiah Thomas, Derek Harper, Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, Dale Ellis and... four ex-Suns. Small world. They are Dick Van Arsdale, Sam Cassell, Walter Davis and Gail Goodrich.
Now that I'm done with the useless, and completely irrelevant, information section of the intro, on to a more pertinent preview.
This week's edition focuses on the continuing NBA playoffs, Suns' head coaching candidates and a segment where Kris and I hand out parting gifts to the Suns' players as they start their summer vacations.Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 23
There is something to be said about a bunch of rich men sitting around, watching, taking notes, poking/prodding and analyzing which of the many options will be the best asset for them. What is the best investment or which will make them the most revenue?
Having said that, the NBA Draft Combine is basically just that as NBA hopefuls walk around the fields of the hardwood for the cattle ranching NBA decision-makers looking for the best.
The NBA Draft Combine services as a stock assessment for a prospect as those invited are selected by NBA teams specifically. They get a ballot of a few hundred names and select 60 of them to come to Chicago, Illinois to workout for three days with them in attendance. This year the list actually ballooned up to 63 total prospects with three extra invitees getting the last minute call to join the group due to a miscue.
Over the past four years the NBA Draft Combine has shown some semblance of consistency to the draft itself.
Since 2009 the NBA Draft Combine has provided 85.4% of the picks in the draft. That is 205 of the 240 total draft picks. Not a slam dunk, but those invited are typically the ones that hear their name on draft night from either David Stern or Adam Silver. The 14.6% that are not invited (or the 35 players) are in most cases the European stash players picks that we all know and love or international prospects that are not able to attend because of scheduling conflicts with their teams overseas.
This year only Rudy Gobert (France) and Dennis Schroeder (Germany) were invited as non-college prospects. They are not the only top level international prospects this year as Sergey Karasev (Russia), Dario Saric (Croatia), Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France), Livio Jean-Charles (France), and Lucas Nogueira (Brazil) are all first round talents.
Here is a full list of the participants that will be updated with measurements as they are released:
Thursday: ESPNU from 7am-2pm local time
Friday: ESPNU from 7am-2:30pm local time
It is not just the international talent that will be noticeably absent from the Combine as three Top 10 talents will not be able to do more than general measurements. Nerlens Noel, Anthony Bennett, and Alex Len all had surgery to repair injuries that will keep them off the court for the Combine.
Does that matter?
No, it does not. The Combine is not competitive by nature from an athletic standpoint and is basically a dog and pony show for prospects to talk to the media, teams, and get their official measurements.
The only way prospects can have a bad Combine "performance" is if they do not measure out well for their position or insert their own foot into their mouth. See Travis Leslie for that one from back in 2011 when he was insulted with a Tony Allen comparison. The same Tony Allen that became a vital member of the Boston Celtics NBA Championship in 2008 and this years Defensive Player of the Year runner-up. Where is Travis Leslie today?
What matter? Size matters.
A few prospects to keep an eye on to see how they measure out in the NBA's game of inches are Victor Oladipo (listed at 6-5), Trey Burke (listed at 6-1), Shane Larkin (listed at 5-11), Isaiah Canaan (listed at 6-0), Andre Roberson (listed at 6-7), and Cody Zeller (listed at 6-11) to see if they lose and inch or two.
Losing an inch gives up a mile in the NBA, especially for point guards like Burke, Larkin, and Canaan. The gap between finishing at the rim in college and finishing in the NBA are spread about as far apart as possible. Playing the point guard position at 5-10 or 5-9.75 is immensely more difficult than at 6-2 or 6-4 as the position has trended more towards over the past half decade.
Lottery Picks in Attendance
Despite the lack of four potential lottery picks due to injury and international team responsibilities; the top prospects will be in attendance for the most part. They will only do their due diligence with measurements, but Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, Shabazz Muhammad, Cody Zeller, and Mason Plumlee will all be in Chicago.
Because of the few that will not be in attendance others will have a chance to make an impression on teams to take them in the lottery.
Fringe lottery talents like Jamaal Franklin, C.J. McCollum, Gorgui Dieng, Kelly Olynyk, and Schroeder all have a chance to rise up. Franklin, Dieng, and Schroeder are terrific athletes that can open eyes while McCollum and Olynyk can silence doubters about their perceived limitations athletically.
Late first rounders for Suns fans
As of today I have the Suns taking Victor Oladipo and Lucas Nogueira in the most current Mock Draft that was updated today. Depending on how the team handles their lottery pick there will be a nice allotment of talent at No. 30 for them to choose from.
If they go small (Oladipo) early then some potential big men for them to consider are Nogueira (C, Brazil), Steven Adams (C, Pittsburgh), Richard Howell (PF, N.C. State), Jaiteh (F/C, France), and sleeper Colton Iverson (C, Colorado State). All could be groomed to replace or back-up Marcin Gortat.
Say they go big early, then Allen Crabbe (SG, California), Brandon Paul (SG, Illinois), Lorenzo Brown (G, N.C. State), Tim Hardaway Jr. (G/F, Michigan) and sleeper Nemanja Nedovic (G, Serbia) become the targets.