Now that SG Victor Oladipo (5th overall) and C Rudy Gobert (10th overall) are Phoenix Suns, should the team just draft a guy at 30 and walk away happy?
No, I say!
This is a mock draft, my only chance to be something slightly more than an armchair GM. After this draft is over, I just might be banned by BSotS from participating in next year's Mock Draft, but for now the baton is mine. Mine!
I went into this draft with a desire to remake the Suns roster with youth, and allow free agency to surround that youth with short-term rental veterans until the young guys matured.
My version would be better than Dallas' a year ago,who only did the short-term veteran part. More along the lines of Houston, who drafted three guys in the first round last summer and then supplemented the kids with veterans in July (Lin, Asik, Delfino) and October (boom! James Harden).
First, you have to start with youth. With the help of the BSotS front office, I drafted 21-year old SG Victor Oladipo and then traded soon-to-be free agent Marcin Gortat for the #10 overall pick. Everything was going great, until I picked a guy at 10 that everyone and their unborn child hates: 20-year old French C Rudy Gobert. But I still love Gobert's upside, so I'm happy with that pick.
Next, I decided that the roster needed even more youth - and not just what the #30 pick would bring.
My best trading assets were: recent lotto picks Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris, Shannon Brown (1 yr, $3.5 million, $1.75 guar), Hamed Haddadi (1 yr, $1.3 mil, mostly non-guar), P.J. Tucker ($.788, non-guar), #30 pick and... Jared Dudley (3 yrs, $4.25 mil/yr).
Once I couldn't turn Dudley into a top-10 pick (both Detroit and Minnesota offered bad deals, IMO) or even a late lotto pick (more on this in a moment), most of the BSotS front office said it was time to pull Dudley off the table.
Yet, I'm looking at Dudley and I see a guy who would do great on a winning team but cannot be "the man" on a losing one. Last year took its toll on Dudley emotionally. He prefers, and thrives in, a winning environment. Another 2-3 years of losing before he was a free agent - past his prime by that time - is probably not the best plan for him.
Once I decided the Suns were better off turning Dudley into a rookie who could grow - either now, at next year's trading deadline, or next year's draft - I had to decide "who" would be worth the trade.
I did that with Marshall, the Morrii and Dudley all together and apart.
The middle of the first round was unexpectedly unfertile.
Sacramento had just traded down to 7 from 11, so they wanted to keep their pick (Michael Carter-Williams).
Oklahoma City (12) had wanted Gortat, but he was gone by that time. In hindsight, the deal offered by OKC might have been better than what I ended up with by the time OKC was on the clock. OKC had offered Perkins' $20 million, the #12 and Jeremy Lamb for Gortat and Dudley. At the time, I had wanted something better than Lamb for Dudley (was still in talks for #8 or #9 to take McCollum) and didn't want to take on Perkins' $20 million for two seasons. Plus, I already had the #10 for Gortat.
In hindsight, I could still have taken my favorite big man at 12, had Perkins play most of the C minutes while Gobert/Adams/Zeller/Plumlee developed into starters, and had Jeremy Lamb to share minutes with Victor Oladipo. Actually, if I had agreed to the OKC deal pre-draft, I could have taken Anthony Bennett at #5 instead of Oladipo (remember, Alex Len was gone at #4). A perfect scenario would have been Len at 5, Zeller/Muhammad at 12, Lamb for the shooting guard position and Perkins as 2-yr stopgap C while Len developed. But Len was gone and Oladipo was the pick at 5, leaving the 10 or 12 pick needing to be a C to replace Gortat.
Anyway, moving on.
Unexpectedly, Dallas (13) was completely uninterested in any deal I had to offer. I thought they would want to dump the pick for some future seconds, even the Minnesota 2014 lottery-protected #1. I even offered to take back Marion in exchange for non-guaranteed contracts that would have saved them $7 million for free agency. But my pitch was wrong, apparently, and Dallas kept their pick after all.
Utah (14 and 21) was a potential trading partner with a GM interested in trades, but they already had youth all over their roster. Everywhere except PG. We talked about Kendall Marshall for either the 14 or 21 (most likely 21). If I could have done that (Marshall for 21), I would have taken Dudley off the block. But alas, Utah took PG Dennis Schroeder at 14 and the Marshall deal was dead.
Milwaukee (15) was a non-starter. They didn't want anything I had to offer, which I guess meant I wasn't offering the right deals. They announced to all the bloggers that they would anyone BUT Henson or Sanders. With most of the roster about to be free agents, that didn't leave much left. Nothing got done here.
Boston (16) decided to keep their pick as well. So did Atlanta, surprisingly uninterested in trading either of their 17 or 18 picks. I thought sure ATL would want to clear cap space for Howard/Paul, but they weren't interested.
And then they went and took one of the guys I was targeting for a mid-first pick: Giannis Adetokunbo. But ATL snapped him up at 17.
As these picks were being made, I kept watching another one of my favorites - Jamaal Franklin - falling down the board. Franklin has been injured and is just now rising up the boards. Franklin is a SG/SF swingman who led his under-talented team in every category last season - points, rebounds, assists and steals. Franklin is a crazy-hard worker and, with a 6'11" wingspan, a top notch defender. He does everything well except long range shooting, but even that has been impressive in recent workouts.
To take Franklin this late in the first round would be a steal, in my opinion. I could easily see him as a secondary ballhandler/scorer in the lineup alongside Goran Dragic and Victor Oladipo. That three-guard lineup could wreak havoc offensively and still play defense, getting turnovers and easy points.
By this time, with the Marshall trade off the table, and no one interested in the other Suns assets (in a mock draft, the value of Brown/Haddadi/Tucker non-guaranteed deals is nil) at this point, I was ready to trade Dudley if I could pick up Franklin.
However, no one else in the BSotS front office was of the same mind. While they didn't lynch me, or execute a coup to replace me, many expressed a desire to keep Dudley if he couldn't get a lottery pick in return.
I disagreed. Dudley was #21 pick himself, and is best suited in a 6th man role or 5th best starter. If I could draft a guy who could within 2 years (and for 10 years after that) be a full-fledged starting-caliber shooting guard/small forward, I had to make the move.
I was targeting Cleveland (19) and the Bulls (20). Cleveland could really use a guy like Dudley to make the playoffs next season. And the Bulls could always use another veteran who could shoot. Rip Hamilton just wasn't giving them what they needed.
Watch the mock draft today to see how it shook out.
The Suns will acquire new players both today and tomorrow.
The last six picks will be announced on Friday, including the Suns final pick. The Suns still had lots of young tradeable assets and the #30. And surprisingly, late in the first round there was a lot of chatter about the Morrii, Marshall and the 30 for proven, but still young, veterans who would help the Suns transition while the kids learned how to play the NBA game.
Stay tuned for today's pick, and then tomorrow for what the Suns do with the #30.