Welcome in to another Bright Side Roundtable. Last week we reviewed the coaching decision to hire Jeff Hornacek and now we take a peek behind the curtain for what the team could, would, and should do with their Top 5 pick.
Last week there was more of a consensus than I gave the crew credit for. Everyone played nice. However, this is a topic where a few of us have very strong opinions, and not many of us agree on the prospect that should be targeted with the No. 5 Overall pick.
Second Topic: Five Questions on the No. 5 Pick
1) Breaking the Ice: Were you disappointed in "dropping" back to the fifth overall pick in this draft?
Jim Coughenour: Define disappointed. I would much rather be picking fourth or higher (really third or higher), but it wasn't much of a letdown since the odds indicated that was the most likely outcome and I predicted we'd get the fifth pick in advance of the lottery (went out on a limb). Shouldn't we all be numb to unfortunate circumstances after this season anyway?
Kris Habbas: Whenever there is a chance to win something, a realistic chance, there is a level of disappointment. The biggest disappointment in falling to five is that there is a realistic chance that all the top perimeter players will be gone by the time the Suns are on the clock.
Dave King: No I wasn't. It would have been nice to get higher, but I'd rather save the "luck" for next year. I don't think the talent drops at 5 like many others do. Bennett, Len, Burke will be good NBA pros with as much upside as the top 4. Still think Oladipo goes #5 anyway.
Jacob Padilla: I was slightly disappointed as this was the first time that the Suns have had any realistic shot at a top 3 pick. However, the No. 5 was the most likely outcome so it was the one I prepared myself for.
Sean Sullivan: Yes, but not surprised. I was really hoping for a top 3 pick, of which we had around a 37% chance combined. However, we instead landed the 5th pick overall which was out highest singular possibility. There will no doubt be a very good player still available at 5, but I would have liked having a sure bet of drafting either Noel, Oladipo, or McLemore...Now we'll either have to get lucky to land one of those three players, or move up to ensure it.
2) Survey says Otto Porter, Ben McLemore, and Victor Oladipo are the top three targets, which of the three should the team target if they are all available?
KH: Upside suggests McLemore, best all-around skill leans towards Porter, and somewhere in between is Oladipo. The Suns need talent in a big way so McLemore and Porter have to be at the top of the list.
DK: Well, the Suns could use all three of those guys. Any of them becomes an instant 30+ minute per game starter. If all three were somehow available at 5, I say to take McLemore first, Porter second, Oladipo third. I'd rather have Ray Allen, then Nic Batum then Tony Allen/Aaron Afflalo.
JP: McLemore is rated the highest, and Oladipo is the fan favorite here on the site, but for some reason I think I like Porter the best out of the trio. McLemore and Oladipo could be really good, but both have weaknesses that worry me. Porter is a more complete player at this point and he does all the things you need if you want to win.
SS: I say Oladipo without a doubt. His all around game, energy, and defense are attributes that could change the culture of this team going forward. He may not have the highest upside, but I love his game.
JC: The three players I like best are Noel, McLemore and Oladipo in that order. I was turned off of Porter when I read a scouting report that included the words Tayshaun Prince and role player. Noel projects as a shutdown big. McLemore and Oladipo have similar physical gifts, with McLemore forecasting as a 20+ ppg scorer and Oladipo a relentless all-defense type of force.
3) Of those three, who fits the Suns the best?
DK: With Hornacek in the fold promising the Suns will have a wide open offense, I think McLemore is the best overall fit. But all three would do well.
JP: All three would be great fits. McLemore would bring much-needed outside shooting. Oladipo's athleticism, motor and relentless defense would be a great fit next to Dragic. And like I said, Porter can do some of everything for you and would fit anywhere. All are great options for Phoenix.
SS: Again, I have to give the edge to Oladipo for the reasons I stated above. However, McLemore's shooting makes him a close second. The Suns are in desperate need of a player who can knock down the three reliably, and McLemore will give us that no doubt. As much as I like Porter, I'm not keen on taking a SF this year with the quality of SG's available. Next year should be a much better year for top tier SFs, with players like Wiggins, Parker, and Glenn Robinson III all likely to be lottery picks. But I also understand the argument of drafting best player available, and if Porter is the guy who we think gives us the best chance to win out of the available
JC: McLemore, between those three. Last year there were only nine players in the league that averaged over 20 points a game. I think McLemore can be a top 10-15 scorer in the league (efficiently) while providing solid defense. I would be happy with either him or Oladipo, though.
KH: If we are factoring in Goran Dragic as the point guard of the future then his backcourt mate needs to fill his holes and balance his game out. Like I said above, McLemore and Porter should be at the top of the list, with Porter being the better "fit" due to his ability to be a secondary ball-handler.
4) There are no "superstars" in this draft; would it be wise to trade out of the lottery?
JP: I don't think so. Like McDonough said, there are at least five really solid prospects in this draft, and Phoenix will get one of them.
SS: No, I think we need to get a top tier prospect now. While there may not be any Lebron's this year, there are quite a few players who could end up being potential all-stars. Noel, McLemore, Oladipo, and Porter could all legitimately reach that level...There could be others as well. If we want to acquire more picks, we should do so by trading players, not our lottery pick.
JC: Probably not unless some bad teams want to give us unprotected lottery picks for next year. I have a hard time envisioning a scenario that would be enticing. If someone wants to throw one out for consideration, go for it.
KH: Unless you net back a talent to build around or at the very least off of in return you have to keep the pick. There is talent to be had here in this draft to build with even if there is not a star to build off of.
DK: No. Anyone in the lottery is potentially better than all but 2 current Suns (Dragic, Gortat), so you have to stay in the lotto. No reason to drop from 5 at all.
5) Should they aggressively try to move up if the opportunity presents itself?
SS: If the price is right, absolutely. I really want one of the three prospects between Noel, Oladipo, or McLemore, and I think Orlando's 2nd pick makes a lot of sense for us to look into. If they really do like Burke, he will certainly be available at #5, and they may be willing to swap picks with us if we offer to take on a contract, like Turkoglu, and maybe throw in a second rounder or something. I don't want to give up too much though, and I'm not sure it would be possible without having to give up more.
JC: I would love to move up to 2, 3, or 4 (depending on who's on the board). I really only like three players in the draft. Since I don't think we can maneuver into getting Noel, I would at least like a chance at McLemore or Oladipo. I see potential for a deal with any one of Orlando, Washington or Charlotte. Since Dudley is probably involved in any of those possibilities, it also depends on what Phoenix might be doing in terms of acquiring an extra later lottery pick. Higher picks tend to be better (shocking), especially in a class that isn't too deep in high end talent.
KH: Yes. If the price is not too high there is no downside to moving up to get the most talented player in the class in the teams eyes. Right now the price for the No. 1 pick has been rumored to be Kevin Love or DeMarcus Cousins, which are talents the team does not possess.
DK: I really don't think so. The only way you move up from 5 is to take on long-term salary or give up other valuable assets, and the Suns really shouldn't be worried about that. Orlando likely wants someone to take Glen Davis (2 yrs), for example, in order to trade down from #2. Yet the talent in a McLemore is not much better than the talent in Oladipo or Bennett.
JP: No, I don't think moving up is worth it in this draft. I'd love to get one of the top 3 wings, but if it doesn't happen I'm perfectly OK taking someone like Alex Len at five. There isn't enough of a difference in talent to give up what few assets we have.
BONUS: Who do you feel will be the best player in three years from this draft class?
JC: Nerlens Noel.
KH: It is fun to poke fun at this draft class, right? Well the truth of the matter is that there will be a lot of talented players to come from this class including some potential All-Stars. Nerlens Noel has the most upside as a defender and athlete, with McLemore and Porter not too far behind him.
DK: Definitely Noel. He's just scratching the surface offensively but can already dominate a game on the defensive end. Worst case, in my mind, he's Tyson Chandler.
JP: This is a tough one. The top prospects have big holes in their games (Noel, McLemore) while the next tier maybe doesn't have as much upside (Porter, Oladipo). I don't love Anthony Bennett either. I guess I'll continue my theme and say Porter just for the heck of it.
SS: I think Noel has the best chance if his knees hold up. He really is a game changer on defense and blocked shots at close to the same rate as Anthony Davis when he was playing. He will have to put on substantial bulk as well, but his frame looks like it could accommodate the extra size, and I really like his chances to be a great player in the NBA.
This NBA Draft is considered weak, primarily because there is not a superstar or two at the top. Fine. But the fact remains that there are many, many players in this draft who will some day be better than anyone currently on the Phoenix Suns roster
The Phoenix Suns own the #5 overall pick, #30 and #57 in the 2013 NBA Draft.
The Suns also own their own (probably high) pick in the much more ballyhooed 2014 NBA Draft, as well as the rights to Minnesota's 2014 first round pick (as long as the Wolves make the playoffs). Let's hope that team stays healthy. In addition, the Suns have two high second round picks (Toronto's and their own) in 2014.
The question is what to do THIS year.
If I were GM of the Phoenix Suns, here would be my ground rules for NBA Draft season.
As much as many people like the top four this year of Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter and Victor Oladipo, none of those guys is a sure-fire All-Star. Because of this, there is a likelihood that one of those four drop to #5 without the Suns having to move up. And if one of them doesn't drop, there isn't much difference between them and Anthony Bennett, Alex Len or Trey Burke to name a few.
The worst thing the Suns could do is trade a good asset or take on a lot of long-term salary just to move up a couple of spots.
The 2014 NBA Draft is much stronger at the top, so there's no reason to sacrifice either of those first round picks in any deal to get a 2013 pick. In fact, I'd work with Minnesota to get that 2014 guaranteed to the Suns if at all possible.
The Suns have about $5 million left on the 2012-13 cap, which is still what counts until a week after the draft. In any draft trade, the Suns can take more salary back than they send out. But any incoming salary should be less expensive in 2014+ than anything going the other way.
Why not take on long-term money? At some point, the Suns are going to want to spend free agent money on real, desired free agents rather than somoene else's scraps, so they will need cap room in 2014 and 2015.
The only exception to this rule is if the incoming talent is so good that it's worth adding a LITTLE long-term money to get it.
There are rumors of teams trading out of the lottery. The Suns should pounce on that. The Suns have two very good assets for teams trying to make the 2014 playoffs that might exchange a lottery pick for their services: Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat. Each could garner a 7-12 pick in this draft by themselves. The trick is making the trade work under the CBA.
Even though this draft is "weak", I'll repeat that many lottery picks in this draft will some day be better than anyone currently on the Suns roster. I write this knowing the Suns have several recent lotto picks (the Morri, Marshall, Beasley) on their roster already, but they have been underwhelming and the right lotto pick(s) could end up better than any of them.
If a player the Suns like falls to the 9-12 range, why not trade Gortat or Dudley to get them? Neither is a rebuilding piece. Add them to the fray!
It's tough to get rotation minutes for too many rookies. Drafting a Euro guy later in the draft is a good idea. Or, trade the pick for a 2014 or 2015 pick that might be a little higher instead.
What say you, Suns fans?
Do you agree with these rules? Do you have any others to add?
Abraham Lincoln once said, "I am not concerned that you have fallen - I am concerned that you arise."
On July 11, 2007, Grant Henry Hill, coming off seven unfortunate and injury-riddled seasons with the Orlando Magic in which he had fallen time and again, signed with the Phoenix Suns as an unrestricted free agent. Over the course of the next five years, Grant won the hearts of Suns fans with his great play on the court and even greater behavior off it.
As a Sun, Grant Hill put behind him the injuries that had unfairly robbed him of a legendary career (though he will always remain a legend to many fans) and arose, reborn much like a Phoenix. Today, we celebrate the retirement of the brilliant player and even better individual with the top ten moments during Grant's tenure as a member of the Phoenix Suns:
Grant Hill made his regular season debut for the Suns on November 1, 2007 against the Seattle Supersonics (Kevin Durant's rookie year). He had the type of game fans would come to expect from him in following years: 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, perfectly complementing stars Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion. I couldn't find a video of his debut performance, but here are some highlights from that game:
In what is perfectly representative of Grant Hill's personality, he (along with fellow fan favorite Jared Dudley) participated in the following PSA advising fans to omit homophobic slurs from their trash-talking vocabulary. I'm guessing Roy Hibbert has never seen this before:
The 2008-2009 season was a disappointment for Phoenix, but it marked a remarkable achievement for Grant Hill. For the first time in his career, and at age 36, he played in every game of the regular season and reaped the benefits of the Phoenix Suns training staff with plays like this:
After enjoying back to back healthy seasons in Phoenix, Grant Hill received attention from several teams in the summer of 2009, when he was once again a free agent. The New York Knicks offered him more money and the championship-caliber Boston Celtics also offered him a contract. However, Grant returned to the Valley on a very cheap contract, displaying his loyalty and endearing himself to Suns fans even more. This would prove to be a smart move on both his and the Suns' parts, as the team had a very successful 2009-10 season in which it would get within 2 games of reaching the NBA finals.
In yet another example of the class, sophistication, and likability he exhibits, Grant Hill won the NBA's Sportsmanship Award in 2009-10, becoming the only player to ever win the award thrice (the first two coming during the 2004-05 and 2007-08 seasons). One of the reasons Grant is so beloved by Suns fans is that he seemingly always makes the right play both on and off the court, with the latter evidenced by the well-deserved recognition of his sportsmanship and philanthropy.
The 2009-10 season was the most successful one of Grant's entire career in Phoenix (and arguable the most successful of the whole Nash era). Much of the team's success can be credited to great chemistry both on and off the court, which Grant recently alluded to as one of the favorite parts of his 19 year career. While the team had lots of success, Grant also enjoyed some highlights of his own:
Because it's Kobe...is an explanation necessary?
The 2010-11 saw the Suns missing the playoffs after a season in which they reached game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. However, the team remained competitive right down to the stretch and produced many memorable games. On November 5, 2010, the Suns beat the Memphis Grizzlies in a very tight and entertaining game. The play of the game (which was reminiscent of a very famous pass made by Grant long, long before he was a Sun) occurred when Grant threw a perfect inbounds alley-oop pass to Jason Richardson, who laid it in with 0.4 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime:
Although the 2010-11 season was disappointing for Suns fans, Grant's play did not disappoint. He averaged the highest points per game of any of his seasons in Phoenix (13.2 ppg) and continued his remarkable health, playing in 80 games. The highlight of his season was perhaps his brilliant performance in Indiana, when he scored a career Suns-high 34 points and hit a game-tying three pointer to send the game into OT (where Channing Frye would hit the first of his two game winners in back-to-back nights):
One of the things Grant Hill never achieved through his magnificent years in Detroit and because of his injury-plagued years in Orlando was a playoff series win. One would assume that much of the reason behind him joining the Suns as a free agent in 2007 (other than Phoenix's renowned training staff) had to have been the fact that they were a contender. However, the Suns would lose in the first round during Grant's first year and miss the playoffs altogether in 2009. Despite these failures, Grant remained loyal to his team and re-signed with them and ultimately helped guide them to a Western Conference Finals berth the following year.
In the 2009-10 season, Grant elevated his game to help the Suns by making the right plays on offense and defending up to four different positions on the other end of the floor. The Suns entered the playoffs as the 3rd seed in the West in 2010. They eventually defeated the Portland Trailblazers in six games, giving Grant the first playoff series victory of his career (making him the oldest player to do so). The Suns went on to sweep a familiar playoff rival, the San Antonio Spurs, in the second round but ultimately lost in the Western Conference Finals to another familiar foe, the LA Lakers. Despite this, the 2009-10 season was a success and it holds a special place in many fans' hearts. Grant's best highlight of that postseason came in the first series and is the epitome of the heart and determination he played with:
Congrats on a great career, Grant. I wish you could've retired in Phoenix, but I know you will always be a Sun for many of us fans (ok fine, Pistons fans can make their claim too). We hope you will come back to our franchise in some form or fashion but more importantly, we wish you the best in whatever you choose to do. Happy retirement, BAMF.
Now, if only that other former Sun in LA would just give up and call it a career...