New General Manager Ryan McDonough and President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby have surrounded themselves with some very smart, skilled and experienced folks to help lead the Suns into the next era.
Pat Connelly has been named Assistant General Manager after seven years with the Washington Wizards. His most recent position with the Wizards was Director of Player Personnel. Connelly's path has been similar to McDonough's, working up through the ranks of the Wizards organization from video coordinator.
"Connelly is very well respected," said a long time NBA scout about Connelly joining the Suns. "He definitely fits the mold of what McDonough has described as an evaluator who can do pro, int'l and college scouting."
Ronnie Lester has been added as a scout. Lester last worked in the Lakers' organization for 24 years, most recently as Assistant GM to Mitch Kupchak when they built the latest title winning team. His contract, along with those of 20 other Laker staffers, was not renewed at the end the of the 2011 season when the NBA lockout occurred.
"Both excellent hires," said the scout of Lester and Connelly. "These are experienced guys who have done the job before."
The Suns also named Emilio Kovacic to the position of International Scouting Consultant. Kovacic's last position was European General Manager of Synergy Sports Techonology, a scouting service used by all NBA teams, after a long European basketball career. Long time Suns fans might remember Kovacic from the Suns' 1992 summer league squad. Kovacic also played at Grand Canyon Community College for Paul Westphal in 1988 when they won the NAIA Championship together.
The three new additions supplement the incumbent staff from last season.
Trevor Buckstein, formerly Director of Basketball Administration, was promoted to Assistant General Manager. Trevor worked the last three years in a basketball administration role (CBA interpretation and application, cap management and trade and contract negotiations).
John Treloar will remain the team's Director of Player Personnel, while John Shumate and Bubba Burrage remain as scouts.
Lon Babby oversees the entire staff as President of Basketball Operations.
My takeaways from the third round series:
San Antonio beats Memphis 4-0
Doesn't this series feel like it concluded a long time ago? That's because it did. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 24.5 points and 9.5 assists per game in the series, including 37 points in the series clinching game. Tim Duncan, the ageless wonder, helped neutralize the Memphis bigs (which had appeared to be an advantage for the Grizzlies going into the series) and San Antonio was able to rise to the occasion with games on the line. The Spurs beat Memphis twice in overtime on their way to wielding the broom.
Miami beats Indiana 4-3
The Heat were able to overcome the Pacers in a competitive and wildly entertaining series despite Dwyane Wade struggling due to
a failing body injuries and Chris Bosh playing like an absolute scrub. Having the best player on the planet helps. Bosh was exposed by Indiana's bigs (and his overall lack of talent), going a combined 8-34 from the field in the final four games while pouring down 7 (yes, 7) points per game. LeBron was LeBron. The Pacers dominated the painted area with Roy Hibbert playing like the best center in basketball (which makes his lack of regular season production discomfiting). Paul George further cemented himself as a true gamechanger in the league.
My Finals Pick:
San Antonio over Miami 4-2
I didn't think Miami was nearly as dominant going into this year's playoffs as most. Early discussion from
people who think they know basketball national pundits portrayed the Heat as not only a juggernaut that wouldn't be tested, but also a team that may not lose a game while skipping along to their second consecutive title. After last round's vanishing act left LeBron as the "big one" I don't think people are overestimating the Heat anymore. The Spurs main strengths at the point (Parker) and in the middle (Duncan) are the Heat's main weaknesses. San Antonio's role players are also better across the board. Still, the Cleveland Cavaliers Miami Heat have James, which is absolutely huge.
And the third round standings...
It's a two man race now, folks. Since both contestants at the top of the heap have the same winner and number of games... the contest will be decided by a gladiator style battle to the death. Or a tiebreaker where Eric and Mike will give a new Finals prediction consisting of the winner, number of games and total points in the decisive contest.
Everyone else feel free to give your revised Finals predictions as well, since damn near all of us had OKC in this matchup.
Thanks to everyone for participating! I hope you all had fun
handing my ass to me.
This workout was originally billed as a mass group workout, but evolved into an individual workout for Ben McLemore (Big Board Ranking No. 2) and the other six involved in the group. McLemore is only doing individual workouts starting here with the Phoenix Suns and up next he heads to the Orlando Magic.
McLemore, the former Kansas Jayhawks star, is projected to go in the Top 5 and is the consensus No. 2 overall prospect looking at ESPN, Draft Express, and NBA Draft Insider.
Of that group only Singler and Berggren stand out as those may not belong as fringe second round prospects, but both give unique match-ups for the top tier prospects. Singler played his ball in the PAC12 for Oregon and Berggren with Wisconsin in the Big Ten.
Overall this group allowed new General Manager Ryan McDonough and new head coach Jeff Hornacek the opportunity to meet the players and get to know them on a deeper level. All the top prospects have either gone out to dinner or lunch with the team including McLemore last night. All of the top prospects are options for the team with their No. 5 overall pick.
After the workout McDonough commented on the workout and his comments indicate that McLemore and Oladipo are about neck-and-neck on his rankings. He did not delve into detail, but his comments on the two seem to be that he is very high on both and does not favor one over the other.
Here is a scouting take on the group: