Ricky_ledo

On June 27th, the day of the 2013 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns will have the luxury of choice. With two first round picks (#5 and #30), GM Ryan McDonough will be forced to make a decision on how to cash in those two assets. As Dave King has already covered, McDonough stated that he is unlikely to draft two first-round prospects who share the same position. However, both he and Coach Hornacek share a belief that there is plenty of talent to be had with the 30th pick in this draft.

When asked about the difference between drafting at #5 versus #30, McDonough had this to say:

"It’s a challenge (to find the diamond in the rough) but I enjoy it. I think there are more legitimate options in terms of going in a number of different ways. That’s where the good teams pick, in the 20s and 30s every year, the playoff teams that have sustained their levels. There are good players there but obviously there aren’t as many as there are available at #5."

As a draft expert in Boston, McDonough had plenty of experience picking late in the draft and can hang his hat on several gems: Tony Allen in 2004 (25th), Rajon Rondo in 2006 (22nd), and Avery Bradley in 2010 (19th). He undoubtedly relishes the challenge of finding a quality prospect late in the first round and believes there is plenty of talent to be had with the 30th pick,

Coach Hornacek shares similar thoughts on the value of the late first rounder. He remarked that he could envision several of the prospects that have worked out for the Suns (those projected to go in that range) having a role on his Suns team.

"Obviously you have veteran guys but if you find that guy in the #30 range, and I don’t even discount #57, I was #46. So if you find that guy that’s willing to battle and push through the veteran guys, they might turn out to be better. You never know."

"I don’t even discount #57, I was #46." -Jeff Hornacek

It makes perfect sense that Hornacek understands the value of a late pick. As he states, he himself was a second round pick who went on to have a stellar career. He knows that the later picks can go a long way in bringing in players that are willing to put in the effort to try and earn a spot in his rotation (something he himself went through in his first year in the league as an unheralded prospect).

Over the course of the last week, the Suns have had seven workouts and have brought in nearly 50 prospects to examine. Although they haven't worked out many big men projected to go in the 30th range (interestingly, most of the bigs the Suns have brought in are expected to go either earlier or later), many of the prospects who have visited US Airways Center are wings that are expected to go somewhere in the range of the Suns' #30 pick, such as Archie Goodwin, Tony Snell, and Ricky Ledo.

Whereas Snell is a relatively NBA-ready player with skills to contribute to the team immediately, Goodwin and Ledo are viewed as longer-term projects, making them riskier options than others. However, McDonough acknowledged that he is open to taking a risk with the #30 pick and remarked that the team itself is in a position to be considering such low-risk, high-reward investments:

"I feel like if you’re right there at a championship level and you need one more guy to put you over the hump, then it probably makes sense to draft a more veteran guy who can come in and play right away. Where we are, we obviously need to build this. So if there’s a guy you think could be a good starter someday, even if he's 18 or 19, that might be a risk you have to take."

"So if there’s a guy you think could be a good starter someday, even if he's 18 or 19, that might be a risk you have to take." -Ryan McDonough

McDonough rightfully points out that at risky proposition of drafting a longer-term project with obvious talent, such as Goodwin or Ledo, is something that the team shouldn't be and isn't afraid to undertake. He spoke extensively on Ledo in particular, who enters the draft with a great deal of talent but many questions about his game and off-court problems (he didn't play a single game at Providence due to academic ineligibility):

"I went and watched Ricky at practice in Providence as well as in high school. He really shoots the ball well. He’s just a natural scorer and has been his whole life. I think he shot the best in the drills today from the NBA three point line. The challenge is the rest of the game, especially not having played this year. He’s never guarded guys with his size and strength and athleticism, other than at AAU or whatever. He’s got a little ways to go defensively and in play-making but obviously there’s a lot of potential. Scoring remains his strength and he’s primarily still a scorer but he can also find guys and get other guys open and is developing his point guard skills, which at his size is obviously a plus."

All in all, both coach and GM have examined many prospects during this last week and they know there is plenty of talent to be had at various points in the draft. The Suns see definite value at the 30th spot in the draft - now it's up to them to make sure they cash in.

The assistant coaching positions for Jeff Hornacek’s staff appear to be filling in. The Suns will move former big man and current vice president of player programs Mark West into an assistant...

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PHOENIX — “I’m just trying to be myself, the best version of me. You can’t recreate yourself before the end of these workouts.” – Mason Plumlee on his approach going into the draft Strengths...

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Phoenix sports talk radio dude and well-connected Suns leaker of non-classified franchise secrets, John Gambadoro, tweeted the following about the new additions to the Hornacek staff:

The Phoenix Suns will add Jerry Sichting and former Sun Mark West to Jeff Hornacek's coaching staff.

— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) June 11, 2013

Mark West, you know very well. He played for the Suns for eight-ish seasons and finished his life in the NBA with a career average six points and five rebounds per game. West has been with the Suns since 2001 and since 2006 as the VP of Player Programs (aka Official Big Brother).

Jerry Sichting has about ten years experience as an NBA assistant coach, including last season with the Washington Wizards where he apparently worked with the Washington big men(?). He played about 10 season in the NBA as a guard where he averaged 12 points and six assists for his career.

As our own Kris Habbas pointed out, Sichting famously fought with Suns player development coach Ralph Sampson in Game 5 of the 1986 NBA Finals.

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The further the mock drafts go, the more difficult it is to accurately predict the players who could be in play. When it comes to the Suns 57th pick overall in the second round, there is little consensus about which players will still be available, or which players will even be drafted at all.

One hint we have available to us are players that the Suns have brought in for workouts. Another clue is the players who have been mocked in and around the end of the second round who could have attributes or skill sets that the Suns could be interested in.

But make no mistake about it, it's a complete crap shoot this deep in the draft.

With that in mind, I've compiled a list of seven players that constitute my best guess of who the Suns could be looking at with their final pick the coming NBA Draft.

1. Vander Blue, SG, 6'5" 197 lbs, Marquette:

Vander Blue is a fast, quick slashing type of player who can also be an effective playmaker and defender. He's not a great shooter though and has a tendency to take poor shots at times, but his defense, ability to score, and versatility as a combo guard makes him an attractive option in the second round.

2. Solomon Hill, SF, 6'7", 226 lb, Arizona :

Hill is a college hometown favorite from UofA who has been one of the most consistent and productive players on the Wildcats over the past few seasons. He's the most versatile player on this list and did a little bit of everything last season, averaging 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game. The biggest drawback for Hill is that while he did everything pretty well in college, he doesn't have any one area that he really excels at which can help him translate his game to the next level.

3. Grant Jarrett, PF, 6'10", 232 lbs, Arizona :

Sticking with our local prospects, Jarrett is another Wildcat who could be a realistic option for the Suns' 57th pick. Unlike his teammate Hill who is a senior, Jarrett was a freshman last season who although struggled off the bench last season, still showed some NBA potential during his short stint at UofA. Jarrett is a stretch four who is an excellent shooter, a very good passer for a big man, and reportedly has a high basketball I.Q.

4. Kenny Kadji, PF, 6'10", 242 lbs, Miami:

If he's still available, Kadji will likely be the most talented big man left in the draft by the time the Suns choose their last pick. There's no doubting his talent, measurables, and leaping ability. He's a good shooter for a big man and a pretty good defender. His biggest drawback is that he's already 25 years old and probably has very limited upside at this point. Still, his measurables and frame make him NBA ready, and he could be a nice option in the second round if the Suns are looking for another big man.

5. Ryan Kelly, PF, 7'0", 228 lbs, Duke:

Kelly is what he is, a three-point specialist in a 7-foot frame. While it may be tempting to compare him to our own Channing Frye, you have to remember that Frye was a much more versatile player in college and a high draft pick, and even now Channing is a fairly decent defender and rebounder for a stretch four. Kelly is none of those things. He literally has one skill, and that is shooting lights out from beyond the arc. Still, he is exceptional at that one skill, and his height should help him ensure that he is still able to get off quality shots even at the next level as a catch and shoot player.

6. Phil Pressey, PG, 6'0", 177 lb, Missouri:

Pressey is an interesting prospect for a second round pick. He is a very athletic, explosive, and fast player who is also a good floor general and an excellent passer. If the story ended here, you're looking at a potential lottery pick...but it doesn't. The problem with Pressey is that he's undersized, and has a tendency to take a lot of bad shots, and he's not a very good jump shooter to begin with. He is also a questionable defender, even more so when projecting him at the next level. He has the ability to be one of the best point guards in this draft class and all the tools to make it in the NBA, but can he learn to play within himself?

7. Peyton Siva, PG, 6'1", 181 lb, Louisville:

Peyton is probably the most recognizable name on the list as the starting point guard on the team who just won the NCAA National Championship. He is extremely quick and athletic, a great defender with excellent lateral quickness, and a good distributor. However, he is not a good shooter, and like Pressey, has a tendency to believe he is. While Siva is often referred to as being undersized, I think this is much less of a concern than his perimeter shooting. If Siva can develop a consistent jump shot and be more selective with his shot selection, he could be an absolute steal in the second round for a team looking for a young point guard.

Here is a look at how this group fared in the NBA Combine last month:

Measurements:

Name Height W/O Shoes Height With Shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach Body Fat Hand Length Hand Width

Vander Blue (SG, Marquette)

6' 3.5''
6' 5.25'' 197.4 6' 6'' 8' 4.5'' 4.6 8.5 9.5

Solomon Hill (SF, Arizona)

6' 5.5'' 6' 7'' 226 6' 9'' 8' 7''
7.6
9 10.5
Grant Jerrett (PF, Arizona) 6' 8.75'' 6' 10.25'' 232 7' 2'' 9' 1'' 10.05 8.5 9.25
Kenny Kadji (PF, Miami) 6' 8.75'' 6' 10'' 241.6 7' 3'' 8' 10.5'' 7.45 9 10.25

Ryan Kelly (PF, Duke)

6' 9.75'' 6' 11.75'' 228 6' 11.5'' 9' 2'' 14.75 9 10
Phil Pressey (PG, Missouri) 5' 9.5'' 5' 11.5'' 177 6' 2.25'' 7' 8''
4.7
7.75 9.75
Peyton Siva (PG, Syracuse) 5' 11.5'' 6' 1'' 180.6 6' 3'' 7' 9'' 6.05 8 9.75

Results:

Name 3/4 Court Sprint Time
Lane Agility Time
Modified Time
Standing Vertical
Max Vertical

Vander Blue (SG, Marquette)

3.14

11.85

3.02

28.5

33

Solomon Hill (SF, Arizona)

3.19

10.77

2.91

29.5

37.5

Grant Jerrett (PF, Arizona)

3.51

11.85

3.23

28.5

34

Kenny Kadji (PF, Miami)

3.44

11.47

2.88

34

38

Ryan Kelly (PF, Duke)

NULL

NULL

NULL

NULL

NULL

Phil Pressey (PG, Missouri)

3.13

10.86

3.02

33

38.5

Peyton Siva (PG, Syracuse)

3.16

10.59

2.93

33.5

41.5

My Take:

The issue with late second round prospects is that they are extreme long shots. Never mind the highly unlikely chance of finding a starter, even finding a role player who can contribute off the bench would be considered a home run.

For this reason, I would rather the Suns draft players late in the second round with highly specialized skills who can do at least one thing very well. While someone like Solomon Hill may be the best all-around player out of this list, how likely is it that he will be used for all of the things he is pretty good at? On the other hand, a guy like Ryan Kelly who is a very good three point shooter, but does absolutely nothing else, could find a role on the Suns as a Mike Miller-esque type of guy who can knock down open shots in limited minutes on the floor.

Of course, Kelly has yet to workout with the Suns, so perhaps they aren't interested in a one-trick pony at all. They have worked out other big men who can also shoot the ball like Grant Jerrett and Kenny Kadji though, so maybe they are looking for a guy who actually has a chance to not only stretch the floor but also rebound, defend, and score inside a little as well.

Either way, the reality of the situation is that player they pick at #57 will be a stretch to even make the final roster. However, if the Suns' FO and scouting department does their homework, they could certainly land a player who can help the team in some capacity...which is about the most you should even hope for with this pick anyway.

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