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Grading Scola based on his main competition:

Scola_medium

Morris was given a chance to supplant Scola from the starting lineup last season and was an abject failure in his quest disinterested attempt. Scola beat the second year player, who showed no improvement from his rookie campaign, soundly. Upon Scola's acquisition he was the de facto starter at PF even if the role hadn't been officially bestowed upon him. He earned that role when given the opportunity.

Luis Scola vs. power forwards playing at least 25 minutes a game:

  • 14th in FG%
  • 13th in rebounds per game
  • 10th in points per game
  • 9th in FT%
  • 9th in turnovers (fewest) per game
  • 7th in assists per game

So not only did Scola raze his counterparts on the Suns, he also was a productive starting power forward relative to his competition across the league.

Grade: B+

Judging Scola based on his 2012-13 season compared to 2011-12:

Scola_2_medium

When Scola showed a significant drop off in the 2011-12 season it was easy to extrapolate that his production would continue to decline since he entered the season 32 years old. That conjecture, however, turned out to be misconstrued. Scola shook off a bad season and nearly returned to his previous production from his 30 and under years. On a team where nearly nobody exceeded expectations, Scola was on that short list.

While it's improbable Luis will be able to improve on this season's numbers as a 33 year old, it isn't a stretch to wager he'll still be an effective player next season.

Grade: A-

Judging Scola based on hustle, heart and equanimity:

As the season trudged along it would have been easy for a veteran like Scola to disassociate himself from what was a disappointing season laced with savage beatings. He could have sulked from being stuck in a bad situation at this stage of his career. Scola, however, is not that type of player or person. Despite being visually disturbed at times off the court talking to the media in perplexed and critical fashion (on occasion), Luis was always accountable for his part in the underwhelming results. Luis is also not the type of person to let these kinds of issues affect his demeanor on the court, either. Luis gave a consistent effort when many of his teammates struggled to do so. He was a leader by example. Unfortunately, a majority of the Suns chose not to follow suit.

Grade: A

Overall Grade: A-

Scola was claimed on waivers after being amnestied by the Houston Rockets and stepped into a team with an identity crisis possessed of the insane misplaced mindset that they could actually compete for a postseason berth. Things didn't work out that way.

Scola acquitted himself as a true professional in these circumstances.

I didn't like the acquisition of Scola last summer. I thought he would be a good fit as a backup for a contending team, but he didn't make sense for one going through a massive overhaul. I still don't like the move, but as it turns out he was a bright spot in a mostly somber season (even if he may have cost us a better draft pick). I never really cared for Scola as a player, either. I thought he was kind of soft and wasn't enamored with his whiny savvy play. He changed my mind this season and I respect the way he navigated the tribulations of the season.

I hope the Suns can find a deal this summer that is mutually beneficial for both Scola and the team. I think there will be interest, and if the Suns can send him to a playoff team while picking up a young player with upside or a 2014 pick, it would probably be the best thing for both parties.

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Not every workout is going to draw in the top level talent for the Phoenix Suns as they continue to prepare for the 2013 NBA Draft later this month. Today, for example, the team was looking at six prospects that could be options for their late second round pick this year.

The Suns have two picks in the first round (5 and 30) as well as one in the second round (57) to work with.

All six of the prospects brought in are more realistic as late second round picks. The big names were Grant Jerrett (former Arizona forward) and Vander Blue (Marquette). Both have the potential to be quality NBA players, but are coming from very different situations. Last year, as a freshman, Jerrett was not utilized like he could have been in a deep Arizona front-court. He had to share time which led to a reduced role and a decision to leave early for the NBA Draft. On the other hand Blue is a junior that saw his stock soar after a very quality showing in the NCAA Tournament.

Jerrett played ball here in Tucson, but former Hamilton High School star Ryan Evans was also in this workout creating a very hometown feel. He played four years for the Wisconsin Badgers on an unassuming team with an unassuming role. Working out for his hometown team for a spot in the NBA Draft had to be a dream fulfilled.

The rest of the group included Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, and Scott Woods. Here is a quick breakdown of the workout participants from a scouting perspective:

  • Grant Jerrett -- Arizona -- Freshman power forward: A good shooter and translates immediately as a stretch-four. Jerrett has the talent to be a very good prospect, but didn't show it consistently at Arizona this year and looked out of shape in Chicago for the Combine.
  • Vander Blue -- Marquette -- Junior shooting guard: Not a scorer, but when forced into that role proved to be resourceful. Has the physical tools to be a great defender on the perimeter with a terrific athletic profile.
  • Kenny Kadji -- Miami -- Senior forward/center: He can stretch the floor as a shooter, but with his size Kadji can forget that he belongs in the paint. Not a great athlete, but solid. Today, Kadji is 25 years old.
  • Ryan Evans -- Wisconsin -- Senior wing: The best athlete in a long time for the Badgers, but the last player with that distinction was former Sun Alando Tucker. Evans is a better basketball player with the ability to be an impact defender and has improved each year on the offensive end, as a ball-handler, and as a shooter.
  • Durand Scott -- Miami -- Senior combo guard: Another undersized two guard that plays the one. More of a scorer that had his most efficient year as a senior scoring and shooting the ball.
  • Scott Wood -- N.C. State -- Senior wing: Great shooter, but other than that Wood is not an NBA level athlete. He is very smart and played his role well for the Wolfpack, but he is not an NBA athlete, lacks strength, and ball-skills to play on the perimeter. For his career Wood shot 809 threes (41.3%) and 256 twos (45.3%).

Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday.

Strengths Above all, Ohio State Buckeyes forward Deshaun Thomas is a scorer by breed and by trade. He put up 15.6 shots per game as a junior in 2012-13 and 5.6 of those were from three-point range....

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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.

20130129_mjr_su5_188

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.

Don't spend big assets to move up from #5

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.

Don't give away any 2014 picks

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.

Don't take on lots of long-term salary

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.

Add another lottery pick or two

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!

If you add another lotto pick or two, stash/trade #30 and #57

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?

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