Judging Garrett based on his playing time for the Suns


Diante didn't exactly cement himself as a NBA player in his rookie season. In fact, he did much the opposite. The most glaring deficiency is his overall shooting ability. Garrett ranked 434th in eFG% out of 469 players that stepped on a NBA court last season. When factoring in that 19 of the 36 players below Garrett played less than 60 minutes the entire season it becomes readily apparent that he was one of the most atrocious shooters in the league.

The next area of infamy is the turnovers per 36 minutes. Garrett averaged 3.9, which slotted him as 16th worst in the league. Of the 15 somehow worse than him only three played more minutes.

Not all of this section consists of me making denigrating remarks about Garrett's game, though. Diante did average 7.5 assists per 36, which was good enough for 19th in the league. Only one player ahead of him played less minutes on the season, so this makes Garrett somewhat of an outlier. Interestingly enough, the Suns had three players in the top 23 in assists per 36 - Goran Dragic 7.9, Garret 7.5 and Kendall Marshall 7.3 - which contradicts the prevailing sentiment that the Suns lack of shooting was holding their point guards back.

What about thievery? Diante is morally reprehensible. His 2.4 per 36 ranks him 7th in the NBA. The top three in the league played a combined 65 minutes. The other three are Ricky Rubio, Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe.

So Garrett is one of the worst players in the league at shooting and taking care of the ball, but in the ranks of the elite at distributing and burglary. Is the chasmic difference startling? Not so much. The sample size is still microscopic enough there is no way to confirm these as definite trends. It is somewhat interesting to see these areas at such opposite ends of the spectrum, though.

Grade: C-

Judging Garrett based on his backcourt bench cohort


Neither of these guys had stellar years. While Kendall's bemoaned shooting woes placed him 12th in eFG% among Suns this season, Diante managed to finish dead last (16). In WS/36 Marshall ranks 12th again while Garrett once again is in the caboose.

Surprisingly, Garrett beats out Marshall in his one plus level skill (assists). Diante also shows his more diverse skill set with the edge in rebounding and steals.

While I give Kendall the slight nod among the rookies, I think Marshall clearly distances himself by virtue of being nearly three years younger than Garrett.

Grade: D+

Judging Garrett based on his stints with the Bakersfield Jam

Garrett excelled in his role for the Jam. He averaged 17.3 points (49.1% FG) and 7.3 assists in eight regular season appearances. He even made 13-21 three point attempts and 17-21 free throws, suggesting that his NBA numbers may not be entirely reflective of his ability. Is he awestruck or just unable to get similar looks at the highest level. Free throw shooting should be static, so maybe it's a case of the former...

His playoff numbers were even better as he averaged 21.0 points (50% FG), 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds in two games. Turnovers were still an issue for Garrett, however, as he averaged 3.0 per game over his 10 total appearances.

Garrett is eminently qualified as a D-Leaguer, but his ability to be productive as a pro is very suspect.

Grade: A-

Overall Grade: C

Garrett started the season as a fourth string rookie point guard who snuck onto the roster and played like one. He shouldn't have been better than third stringer Marshall, though he was close. He didn't do anything to make a case for an expanded role, but also fared well enough with the Jam to maintain a lambent glimmer of future potential. With an expected roster shake up it is unlikely that Garrett will return to the Suns as an end of the bench security guard, but hopefully he hasn't played himself out of the league. He will turn 25 at the start of next season and that's starting to get up there in terms of unproven prospects. I believe that Garrett met his expectations, but those expectations were practically non-existent.

Strengths Oladipo has two qualities which may be the best in the draft: his motor and his defense. Victor plays at a much faster pace than every player he shares the court with. On both ends of the...

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Besides the Phoenix Suns, there are another seven (seven!) head coaching openings this spring, And that doesn't even include Keith Smart in Sacramento who still has a job but knows a new ownership is taking over the team. Only the Cleveland Cavaliers have filled their spot with Mike Brown - formerly of the Cavs with the Los Angeles Lakers in between.

A head coach is important during the draft process to run the individual workouts with prospects and give his take on which players would be best fits for his coaching style and offensive and defensive schemes. Players and coaches have to be able to understand each other and somewhat speak the same language, or their performance on the court might suffer. Especially with rookies.

Lottery teams like the Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers all need coaches. Pseudo-lottery Milwaukee Bucks need a coach as well. Three openings exist on playoff teams: The Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers came up short of expectations and decided the coach was the problem.

Why are teams waiting so long to fill their coaching position?

The delay, which could extend to late June

Because some of the best coaching prospects are still roaming the sidelines in the Conference Finals, that's why. Brian Shaw (Indiana), Mike Budenholzer (San Antonio), David Fizdale (Miami) and Lionel Hollins and Dave Joerger (Memphis) are all on the short list of favorites.

Indiana, in particular, has declined all interview requests through the end of the playoffs. Not only is Brian Shaw on a lot of teams' lists, so is GM Kevin Pritchard to take over front office openings.

The still-working coaches

Fizdale and Joerger, who have never been head coaches in the NBA, are wanted by the lottery-bound rebuilding teams.

Hollins, whose contract expires in June, is coveted by teams with big aspirations like the Clippers, Nets and maybe even the Hawks.

Shaw and Budenholzer are wanted by everyone - they are long-time #2 men ready for the #1 position. They have the perfect profile for any coaching position. They will have their pick of openings.

The openings

For established coaches, the Clippers and Nets openings are the very cream of the crop. Guys like Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan will be hot after those positions because your first year could include a Conference Finals appearance without adding any new talent. Those teams want the best of the best, and will likely try hard to grab Lionel Hollins before anything else.

The Atlanta Hawks position is quite interesting as well: they have a GM with an open pocketbook intent on adding huge names this summer. If they land Dwight Howard and Chris Paul in a package deal, the Hawks could be playoff contenders. But if they miss on Howard (most likely to return to LA or sign with Houston if Paul doesn't come to Atlanta too) and Paul, the cupboard is bare. Josh Smith wants out, and he's the next best free agent on the market. So this position is a wildcard risk. Latest rumor has Budenholzer at the top.

The other openings all have tough days ahead. All are in the lottery or just on the cusp of it. There's an exciting challenge to taking over a non-playoff team, but also a lot of pressure to make it work quickly.

The Phoenix Suns

It's still hard to tell exactly which guy is at the top of the Suns priority list. Suns GM Ryan McDonough hinted the other night that his timeline had slowed down on the coaching front, partly because of the complexities involved in interviewing coaches still in the playoffs.

J.B. Bickerstaff (Rockets) and Steve Clifford (Lakers) formally interviewed this week for the Suns job. Lindsey Hunter interviewed last week, and Jeff Hornacek (Utah) and Kelvin Sampson (Houston) are likely coming to town very soon. So too will Quin Snyder (Russia) and maybe even Mike Malone (Golden State). McDonough said he's conducted a number of phone interviews as well.

But there is no end in sight, and McDonough is prepared to host prospects in Phoenix without a coaching staff and without even his primary player development guy still under contract (Corey Gaines, who is coaching the WNBA Mercury right now).

Without a coaching staff or a player development staff beyond Ralph Sampson, who exactly is going to conduct these player workouts? That's a big question. Bench coaches Dan Panaggio and Noel Gillespie are still available, I believe. Probably, the Suns will bring in some hired-guns to help organize and conduct the workouts.

Update: Lead Assistant Igor Kokoskov is still under contract through end of June as well, and could be tapped to lead workouts. Kokoskov coaches the Georgian team each summer, so I'm not sure when he leaves. Plus, his contract is up soon.

Expect the Suns to run a tight ship and make the player workouts as good as anyone's. Certainly, their medical evaluations, headed by Aaron Nelson, will be world class. The Suns identify good players. But it's not ideal if your entire coaching staff isn't taking part in the evaluation process.

The leaders?

While the Suns already have access to most of their favorites, my guess is that Shaw and Budenholzer are way up there and McDonough won't want to make a decision until he can at least talk to both of them.

Budenholzer has been made available for interviews between series, but nothing has been made public of a formal interview with the Suns.

Shaw has not. He hasn't talked to a soul. It seems he's at the top of everyone's list, though Hollins and other established coaches might get the nod in Brooklyn and LA.

McDonough hinted that his list is growing and shrinking at the same time, meaning the names are changing. It's possible he's also after Lionel Hollins himself. Hollins used to coach in Phoenix, so it wouldn't hurt to at least talk to him right?

McDonough may also want to talk to Joerger and Fizdale as well.

Regardless, don't hold your breath on a new coach yet. Just hope the Suns get the guy they really want, not the first available.

Strengths One of the best pure shooters in the 2013 draft class, California Golden Bears guard Allen Crabbe played three years of efficient ball for well-respected head coach Mike Montgomery. At...

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The 2013 NBA Draft is still just over four weeks away. While NCAA games have been over for two months and the annual Draft Combine is in the books, we just figured out the draft order.

Now the NBA's worst teams can start honing in on single players at their pick with full knowledge of who's ahead of and behind them. While there's plenty of talk of trading away picks and moving up and down a few spots to get the right value, the likelihood is that the top 5 picks will go to the teams who currently hold the top 5 picks.


Because this is the NBA, and individual talent is king. Only five guys play at one time, and a single player can mean the difference between winning and losing. Talent trumps all. You can't win with marginal players. So why would a team drafting in the top 5 trade away their pick?

It's happened, but almost never to the benefit of the team that gave away that top pick. Boston traded the #5 overall pick in 2008 to acquire Ray Allen. Memphis and Minnesota swapped the 3rd and 5th picks a few years ago. Minnesota traded the #5 overall pick to Washington for a couple of role players. Sacramento traded it's #5 pick seven months later to the Rockets for a bag of beans and a lint ball.

There's a couple more examples, I'm sure, but the point is that teams keep their top-5 picks almost all the time.

So let's look at the team needs at the Top 5 of the Draft. I am going primarily with the adage that with a top-5 pick you don't draft a position where you're already boasting a young up-and-coming player who projects to be just as good.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs have gotten lucky with the ping pong balls lately, but that has yet to turn into wins. Drafting #1, let's only look at the best 6 players in the draft: C Nerlens Noel, SG Ben McLemore, SF Otto Porter, SG Victor Oladipo, PF Anthony Bennett, PG Trey Burke.

Really, for the #1 pick you have to narrow down to Noel, McLemore and Porter. Maybe Burke, but probably not.

With former #1 overall Kyrie Irving at PG, former #4 overall Dion Waiters at SG and former #4 overall Tristan Thompson at PF, I am guessing that the Cavs will not draft at those positions when they pick #1. This rules out SG Ben McLemore and PG Trey Burke.

I assume the choice is down to two players: Noel and Porter.

Noel is the better top-end talent, but he's injury-prone.

Porter is healthier and appears to be a great fit with big-time scorers already on the wings in Irving and Waiters.

My pick: Nerlens Noel

Orlando Magic

The Magic did a huge tear-down last summer and brought in a number of young player who performed well last season, showing promise that will continue to flourish in the years to come.

With young Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless at SF already, the Magic are unlikely to look hard at Otto Porter.

With Nikola Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson at PF, the Magic are unlikely to zero in on Anthony Bennett.

But C, SG and PG are currently being manned by veterans who won't be around when the Magic start winning again. With Noel off the board, that leaves McLemore, Oladipo and Burke as the choices for the #2 overall pick.

Given McLemore's talent, youth and upside, I have to go with McLemore here.

Secondary option would be PG Burke - who just may end up being the younger version of the guy already starting at PG for them: Jameer Nelson.

But still, McLemore has the highest upside. Gotta take him.

Washington Wizards

The Wizards look to be in great shape right now. They jumped up from the #8 spot while enjoying a playoff-caliber second-half run on the backs of former #1 PG John Wall and former #3 SG Bradley Beal.

With those two already on hand, I will rule out McLemore, Oladipo and Burke.

Otto Porter would be a great fit at the SF, just like he would have been for the Cavs. Putting Porter in there to do everything except dominate a game would be a nice compliment to scorers Wall and Beal.

A secondary option for this team would be PF Anthony Bennett. The Wiz need front court scoring, and Bennett can provide points galore.

Still, I go with Porter. Perfect fit, and the best remaining talent on the board.

Charlotte Bobcats

Poor Bobcats keep getting terrible records and keep losing out in the lotto. After missing out on Anthony Davis a year ago, they drop to the fourth position here in 2013.

The Bobcats still need everything, though they do have youth at certain spots that's not worth drafting to replace right now.

The Cats (soon to be Hornets) boast a good young PG in Kemba Walker, a good SG in Gerald Henderson and last year's #2 overall pick in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The presence of MKG rules out Porter if he's still available.

The remaining options on my version of this draft are Anthony Bennett, Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo would be a great fit if the Bobcats decide to let go of Gerald Henderson. But for a team that would struggle to sign free agents, why let a 25-year old SG leave just to replace him with a rookie? Better to fill other holes than to create one that doesn't already exist.

The Bobcats need talent at the PF or C position. If Noel is somehow still on the board, they take him for sure. Maybe you even bring a new name into this mix here: C Alex Len. Len won't be working out for anyone in the next month, so I have no idea how his stock would rise this high, but it could.

Still, the best fit at this spot, given who's already been taken, is PF Anthony Bennett. Bennett can give the Bobcats a legit front court option to go with their talent on the wings.

Phoenix Suns

Who's left?

The best remaining, in my humble not-a-scout opinion: SG Victor Oladipo. PG Trey Burke. C Alex Len.

To me, Alex Len is just a younger version of Marcin Gortat. Maybe a bit tougher, but otherwise he's at least 2-3 years away from proving he's even close to a double-double machine that Gortat already is. And the Suns have proven that a double-double center doesn't win you basketball games.

With Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall already in the fold, the Suns have to pass on Trey Burke.

The downside of Oladipo is that GM Ryan McDonough said the Suns need what we all know the Suns really, really need: shooting. Oladipo isn't a shooter. He may be everything else, but he's not a pure shooter or shot-creator. It's quite possible that a C.J. McCollum jumps all the way to #5 to the Suns because of just that - shooting. But the mark against McCollum is that he's a combo guard who profiles best as a scoring PG, and the Suns already have one of those in Goran Dragic.

Like the Bobcats who don't need to replace Henderson when they have a lot more holes to fill, the Phoenix Suns don't need to replicate Goran Dragic already.

Time to fill a hole that's already deep at a position of need with the best remaining talent.

Drum roll please...

Phoenix Suns take Victor Oladipo!

Celebrate, Suns fans. And hope that Oladipo develops a consistent outside shot.

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