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The Suns have announced that athletic trainer/voodoo practitioner Aaron Nelson has been promoted to Vice President of Athlete Care and Head Athletic Center. They also re-signed Mike Elliott, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach/Assistant Athletic Trainer, to a multi-year contract.

Lon Babby had this to say about the news:

"We are delighted to enter into multi-year agreements with Aaron and Mike. The Suns' training and medical staff has been justly recognized not only among the very best in the NBA, but in all of professional sports. Their innovative approach to athlete care and performance recovery is world class."

This is great news for the franchise and its fans, as the widely respected training staff has been one of the team's best strengths in not only helping players recover, but to also attract free agents (see Grant Hill and Jermaine O'Neal). This is a huge move for the Suns' future. Kudos to Babby for getting it done.

Keep workin' that magic, Aarron!

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Atlanta Hawks - stevedavis_

Out: DeShawn Stevenson, Lou Williams, John Jenkins, Mike Scott, #17, #18

In: Thomas Robinson, Wes Matthews, Greg Steimsma, Kelly Olynyk (26)

The Hawks added about $3.5 million to their cap number, which poised them to be a big player in free agency, while not significantly adding to their young talent. Matthews is a slighlty more expensive/slightly better replacement for Williams, Robinson is a calculated gamble and Olynyk (a top 20 talent) is great value at 26... but the moves appear mostly lateral for a team that currently lacks a definitive identity.

Grade: B-

Boston Celtics - arvin123

Out: Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee

In: DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Willie Green, Gorgui Dieng (16), Ricky Ledo (25)

The Celtics transition from one era to the next is looking painful. The Celtics didn't lose much in these deals, considering Garnett is 36 and Terry is 35, but didn't really improve either. $11 million for nine points and seven rebounds a game (Jordan) isn't wise resource allocation. The trades give Boston a little bit of cap relief after next season, but a straight salary dump would have been preferable. Dieng isn't a reach at 16, but Ledo at 25 probably is.

Grade: C-

Brooklyn Nets - Richard Bowman

Out: Brook Lopez, Reggie Evans, Marshon Brooks

In: Javale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Andre Miller, Anthony Randolph, Tim Hardaway Jr. (22), Lucas Nogueira (27)

Usually the team who gets the best player wins the trade. The 25 year old Lopez was the best player in this trade, so read between the lines. Or I'll just lay it out. The Nets took a major frontcourt hit without a significant upgrade at any other position. Hardaway is a reach at 22, but Nogueira is an interesting prospect that could be a steal at 27. Still... trading a franchise center is fairly indefensible. Brooklyn basically dealt a steak for three chicken wings.

Grade: D

Charlotte Bobcats - sunfromunder

In: Victor Oladipo (4)

Never confuse activity with achievement. Charlotte gained positive momentum by standing still. The Bobcats may have come away with the best player in this draft class while continuing to build around a young core... that has them poised to compete for another top five pick next season.

Grade: A

Chicago Bulls -babypa

In: Mason Plumlee (20)

Plumlee is a solid value at this pick and fills a need in Chicago's frontcourt, with Joakim Noah the only center on the team under contract next season. Mason will likely be able to step in right away and contribute in spot minutes behind Noah. This is a situation where BPA and need complement each other.

Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers - Suns Fan For Life

Out: Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, #19

In: Lou Williams, Jeremy Lamb, Will Barton, Trevor Ariza, C.J. McCollum (6), Otto Porter Jr. (1), #40

With Varejao out the door, and no bigs returning from a bevy of moves, Tyler Zeller becomes Cleveland's full time starting center. Yes, the same Zeller that averaged eight points and six rebounds a game last year while shooting 44%. His backup... *crickets chirping* The Cavs roster is now set at the guard and wings position, but leaves Tristan Thompson to play all the minutes at the four and five. I'd rather take a big #1 and Porter would probably still be available at #3. Despite my infatuation with McCollum the overall picture is kind of muddled. Maybe free agency or future trades can help balance the roster but... Kyrie Irving is probably pretty stunned right now.

Grade: C-

Dallas Mavericks - jc79

Out: Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, rights to Petteri Kaponen, rights to Nick Calathes, #13, $3 million

In: John Henson

Dallas achieves its salary dump AND returns the best player in the deal. Hard not to see this as a coup for Dallas... except for the fact that they still owe ~$23 million to a declining 35 year old and will probably strike out with their $30 million in free agency cap room.

Grade: B+

Denver Nuggets - BringBarkley17

Out: Javale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Andre Miller, Anthony Randolph, #27

In: Brook Lopez, Reggie Evans, Marshon Brooks

The Nuggets turn a quartet of average to below players into a top five center (who might be better than anybody taken in this year's draft). Seems like a big win even though I don't think Lopez is the best fit for the Nuggets style. Then again, who knows what the Nuggets style is with the hiring of new head coach Brian Shaw.

Grade: A

Detroit Pistons - nateman48

Out: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Viacheslav Kravstov, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (8)

In: Danny Granger, Lance Stephenson, George Hill, Tony Mitchell (23)

The backcourt of Stephenson and Hill is an upgrade, but swapping from eight to 23 for the pleasure of one year (~$14 million) of a 30 year old question mark in Granger seems suspect. If he can play and produce the Pistons might find a way into the playoffs as a lower seed, but he could also become an expiring deal at the deadline. Mitchell fits the profile of a high ceiling risk, but the Pistons would probably be better off biding their time and building around a young core.

Grade: D+

Houston Rockets - jc79

Out: Thomas Robinson

In: DeShawn Stevenson, Giannis Adetokunbo (18)

Adetokunbo is an 18 year old project that won't be able to contribute for years and Stevenson is a roster spot with two years left on his contract. While Houston was obviously looking to move Robinson it seems like they should have been able to get something better to help win now than a crappy 32 year old journeyman.

Grade: C- B- *see comments below for grade adjustment

Indiana Pacers - khalid.h

Out: Danny Granger, Lance Stephenson, George Hill, Tony Mitchell (23)

In: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Viacheslav Kravstov, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (8)

You know those trades that end up being lose-lose. Yeah. The idea of a contending team trading two starters to go after the point guard of the future makes my brain hurt. After being one game away from the NBA Finals the Pacers' fans are definitely going to have to temper their expectations... or organize a sedition. Sometimes it's better to stay the course, especially when the Pacers entire team is 27 or younger besides David West and the returning Granger.

Grade: F

LA Clippers - blank_38

Out: DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Willie Green

In: Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Gorgui Dieng (16), Ricky Ledo (25)

The Clippers add youth and pieces that should help them compete for a championship next year. IF Chris Paul is on board (assuming he gave his blessing) this is a great deal. PLUS I'm sure that bringing on Doc Rivers as head coach played into this decision. ;)

Grade: A+

Milwaukee Bucks - gallen89

Out: John Henson, Epke Udoh, #15

In: Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Jae Crowder, rights to Petteri Kaponen, rights to Nick Calathes, rights to Nemanja Bjelica, Anthony Bennett (9), Tony Snell (21)

The Bucks return a hodgepodge of players that don't help the team win now but don't hurt the team moving forward. Picking up Bennett at nine is solid, but he better end up being a better pro than the precocious Henson or else this trade will probably look like a huge whiff in hindsight. Snell may also be a little bit of a reach at 21.

Grade: D+

Minnesota - STUPID KERR

Out: rights to Nemanja Bjelica, #9, #21, #52

In: John Jenkins, Mike Scott, Epke Udoh, Sergey Karasev (13), Steven Adams (15)

I'm assuming the logic behind this trade is that neither Karasev or Adams was likely to be available when the Wolves pick at #21. Rather than reaching for one at #9, they end up with both. Time will tell, but it appears that Minnesota executed their plan and got their guys.

Grade: B+

New Orleans Pelicans - hoiberg

Out: Lance Thomas, #6

In: Isaiah Thomas, Shabazz Muhammad (12)

I'm not sure I understand the quizzical rationale behind a team trading for a starting point guard who is worse than their current starting point guard. Even if Muhammad is coveted it's hard to imagine that A. there won't be a player taken between 6-11 that isn't better and B. that the Pelicans couldn't have filled a position of greater need. Not a good start for the large water birds...

Grade: D

NY Knicks - The Solution

In: Glen Rice Jr. (24)

Rice is projected as a late first/early second, so this isn't really that much of a reach... but not a value pick either (on the surface). He does fit the style of the three point bombing Knicks, though, and does fill a need as a backup three. Seems like a decent pick where the Knicks are slated.

Grade: C

Oklahoma City Thunder - jack.kremmer22

Out: Nick Collison, Jeremy Lamb, #12

In: Marcin Gortat, Mike Muscala (29), Reggie Bullock (30)

Lamb and #12 is too much for a year of Gortat. The Thunder should be able to do better (like dumping Perkins). Sam Presti must have picked the wrong week to start taking psychotropic drugs. Does this mean that the Thunder basically traded James Harden for the aging duo of Kevin Martin and Gortat? Talk about trading a dollar for two quarters.

Grade: D-

Orlando Magic - Eric Fong

Out: Glen Davis, #2

In: Channing Frye, Trey Burke (7)

If Burke is truly Orlando's man trading down makes sense... if they can get something by doing so Without a guarantee that Frye can play, however, this seems like a head scratcher. A sunk cost contract swap for the privilege of moving down five spots? Can Frye even be traded? Seems like he would have a hard time passing a physical...

Grade: D

Philadelphia 76ers - phxpurple

In: Dennis Schroeder (11)

Schroeder is a quality pick at this position, but don't expect him to get any much playing time ever behind 22 year old stud Jrue Holiday. I guess duplicating a position based on BPA isn't the worst thing, but this is a little discomfiting.

Grade: C-

Phoenix Suns - Richard Parker

Out: Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Channing Frye, #30, #57

In: John Salmons, Glen Davis, Nick Collison, Danny Green, Nando de Colo, Nerlens Noel (2), Ben McLemore (5), Jamaal Franklin (19), #32

The Suns managed to walk out of this mock with Green, Noel, McLemore, Franklin AND without Beasley... which probably makes them the biggest winner in this fabricated scenario, even if Noel and McLemore weren't my top two prospects (which they are). Either the Suns new GM truly is a miracle worker, the other GMs are rubes that got fleeced, or people had an ulterior motive to help put the Suns on the fast track to rebuilding.

Grade: A+ (hmm...)

Portland Trail Blazers

Out: Nolan Smith, Wes Matthews, Will Barton, #10, #40, #45

In: Anderson Varejao, Cody Zeller (14)

After rumored interest in Marcin Gortat (or a big in general) the Blazers hit a home run instead of settling for a double. Varejao and Zeller (good value at 14) combine with LaMarcus Aldridge and Meyers Leonard to turn a suspect frontcourt into one of the strongest in the league.

Grade: A

Sacramento Kings - brawadis

Out: John Salmons, Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette, #7

In: Bradley Beal, Jared Dudley, Nene, Lance Thomas, Alex Len (3)

The Kings cleaned house by sending out the players who played that vast majority of significant minutes last season and ushering in a new cast. The biggest pieces to move in these deals were Cousins, #7, Beal and #3. Since Cousins was unlikely to be part of this team's future it seems like a big win for Sactown.

Grade: A-

San Antonio Spurs - y2kctiger

Out: Danny Green, Nando de Colo

In: Michael Beasley, Rudy Gobert (17), Allen Crabbe (28), #57

This seems like exactly the type of shrewd move the Spurs are known for... or the complete opposite. I'm not going to dignify this with a further explanation.

Grade: D-

Utah Jazz - Air Deke

Out: #14, #21

In: Nolan Smith, Michael Carter-Williams (10), #45

Utah flips picks #14 and #21 for their (potential) point guard of the future. Well played.

Grade: A-

Washington Wizards - blank_38

Out: Bradley Beal, Nene, Trevor Ariza, #3

In: DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette, Patrick Patterson, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee

The Wiz got six players to fill out a rotation around Wall, Webster and Okafor, but this trade seems hard to gauge without knowing how the Beal/Len - Cousins/Waiters swap plays out. I tend to like the stability and (slightly) ceiling of Beal/Len better so I count this as a loss. John Wall is probably calling Kyrie Irving right now having a WTF conversation.

Grade: C-

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So there you have it. Remember that I'm grading these moves as an impartial (somewhat) bystander that has not followed any of these proceedings up to this point. I have no idea of any of the discussions or mentality that lead to these moves. Feel free to plead your case, champion your victories, or lob vituperations in my general direction in the comments below.

Nothing in sports represents quite the crapshoot that a draft is. Scouts spend all year studying prospects, yet every year teams blow high picks on busts and unearth steals in the later rounds....

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Walter Davis. Sweet D. The player with the silky smooth stroke was also the last player selected by the Suns at the #5 overall spot when he was taken in 1977. It was also the only time the Suns have picked fifth in their draft history. Which means the Suns have a proven track record of hitting on the #5 pick! That propitiates well for tomorrow tonight... barring an unlikely trade to move from the spot.

Walter Davis was my first favorite Sun. Coincidentally, whomever the Suns pick at #5 tomorrow will be my new favorite Sun. Eerie.

Listen in as professional scout Kris Habbas and (insert defamatory remark here) I break it on down before the festivities. And let's all hope the Suns get their new Prince Charming... instead of watching their shiny new player turn into a pumpkin.

Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 28

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#5 Pick: Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore from Kansas University was arguably the best freshman in all of college basketball during the 2012-13 season. Before the start of the season, no one was expecting McLemore to be a lottery talent in the 2013 draft. A year later (and a day before the draft), he is considered to be one of the most talented prospects in his draft class and could go anywhere in the top 5.

Measurables

Height w/Shoes Wingspan Weight No Step Vert. Max Vert. Lane Agility 3/4 Court Sprint
Ben McLemore 6'4.75" 6'7.75" 189 32.5" 42.0" 11.97 3.27

After he was ruled ineligible to play for the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2011-12 season due to issues concerning his multiple transcripts from different high schools, McLemore went on to enjoy a remarkable redshirt freshman year in 2012-13. He posted very remarkably efficient numbers to lead his team to a #1 seed, averaging nearly 16 points per game on 50% shooting from the field, 42% from three, and 87% from the free throw line. He was also a great rebounder for his position, grabbing over 5 per game, and was a solid (albeit a bit inconsistent) defender during his year at Kansas.

Ben McLemore would bring a much needed scoring punch to this Suns roster. Coach Hornacek has commented on the need for three point shooters in the offense he plans to run, and McLemore would bring that in bunches. As a super-athletic shooter (boasts a 42" max vertical), he would be a great complement to Goran Dragic in the backcourt. One thing he would not bring, however, is playmaking ability. Much like the other member of the top two shooting guards in this year's draft, Victor Oladipo (check out Sean Sullivan's preview of Oladipo), he needs to work on his ball-handling skills to get better at creating offense.

McLemore has also faced his fair share of controversy. His former AAU coach recently revealed that he accepted money and benefits from an agent to influence McLemore's decision to commit to Kansas. Moreover, McLemore just signed with the very agent that made those payments to his former coach. On top of this controversy are the academic ineligibility issues he has faced.

However, I really wouldn't put much stock into any of these issues. Ben McLemore dealt with a notoriously tough childhood riddled with poverty and hunger. By all accounts, he seems to be a very humble 20 year old with a good head on his shoulders. He is also a smart basketball player and doesn't make many mistakes, as evidenced by his very efficient playing style.

There have been recent rumblings that McLemore's stock has fallen as a result of poor workouts in Orlando and Phoenix. I have no idea how to interpret this, since it could very well be a play by a team's front office (maybe our own) to lower his draft stock.

All in all, I would be thrilled to see Ben McLemore wearing a Suns hat by the end of Thursday night. OH WAIT.

Check out my comparison of McLemore and Oladipo here.




#30 Pick: Tony Snell

Tony Snell from New Mexico is another efficient player that the Suns could target, this time with the 30th pick in the draft. Possessing stellar size and length for a wing player, he projects to be a solid small forward prospect for the Suns to target at the end of the first round, if he's still on the board.

Measurables

Height w/Shoes Wingspan Weight No Step Vert. Max Vert. Lane Agility 3/4 Court Sprint
Tony Snell 6'7.25" 6'11.5" 198 30.0" 36.5" 10.36 3.25

Tony Snell has some of the best measurements of any wing player in this draft. At over 6'7" tall with a wingspan of nearly 7', he has great size for the SG/SF position. On top of that, he displayed amazing quickness at the combine, with a lane agility score higher than both McLemore's and Oladipo's. He also possesses solid athleticism and speed. One area of his physical attributes that he needs to work on however, is his weight. In order to defend NBA small forwards, he will need to gain a decent amount of weight and get stronger.

On top of his stellar physical profile, Snell has another skill that scouts love: his ability to shoot the ball. He is very good in catch-and-shoot situations as well as weaving through screens to get off his jumpshot (he shot 39% from three and 84% from the free throw line). He is also a good playmaker for his position, averaging 2.9 assists during his junior year. On the other side of the court, Snell has proved to be a very solid defender, where he uses his great physical profile to his full capacity.

Even though he is a very good shooter (or perhaps because he is), Snell has a tendency to settle for jumpshots, with a staggering 48% of all of his shots coming from the three point line. Although he is a good athlete, is extremely quick, and has decent ball-handling skills, the biggest knock on Snell has been his lack of aggressiveness. In 2012-13, his junior season at New Mexico, he only averaged a shade over 12 points on just 9 attempts per game. To his credit, he has addressed this perception of him in draft interviews and has vowed to prove critics wrong (and is apparently having great workouts). Another area of weakness is rebounding - he only pulled down 2.6 boards per game, which is a pretty terribly number for someone with his measurables.

Although he sometimes seems to lack a motor (unlike a player he has the potential to be, and that's not just because of the corn rows) and is a poor rebounder, I really like Snell's chances of success at the next level. I think he could be a good "D-and-3" player, much like Brandon Rush, Danny Green, or Dorell Wright, and has the potential to be as good as Kawhi Leonard (minus the rebounding), given that he improves upon his weaknesses.

I think Tony Snell be a great pick for the Suns at 30, but I doubt he lasts that long.




Bonus Pick: Steven Adams

If the Suns obtain an additional late lottery pick, possibly through a Gortat (to Portland or OKC) or Dudley trade, one prospect to look out for is Steven Adams. The 7 footer from New Zealand was limited in his one season at Pitt, but showed enough of his talent and potential to scouts to be considered a mid-first round pick in the 2013 draft.

Measurables

Height w/Shoes Wingspan Standing Reach Weight No Step Vert. Max Vert. 3/4 Court Sprint
Steven Adams 7'0" 7'4.5" 9'1.5" 255 28.5" 33.0 3.40

Steven Adams' main assets as an NBA prospect at this stage are unquestionably his physical attributes. He has one of the best physical profiles of any of the center prospects in the draft. He is a legitimate 7 footer with a great wingspan, solid weight, and good speed and athleticism.

Adams is a defensive center with great size and length. He is very quick for his size and uses his speed and mobility to not only block shots but to also defend quicker players. He runs the floor extremely well and possesses a very high motor.

While Adams' body is NBA-ready, his offensive game is not. He is a very raw prospect and it will take time for him to contribute in the NBA. He was a late bloomer to the sport (he also turns only 20 in a month) and his unpolished offensive game limited him in his lone year at Pitt, where he only played 23 minutes per game, averaging over 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in those minutes. While he was efficient from the field, he shoot an extremely poor 44% from the free throw line.

At Pitt, he was never the focal point of the offense, only responsible for 11% of his team's total possessions. In fact, most of his touches came from offensive rebounds, which he grabbed tenaciously. Adams uses his size, length, motor, and intensity to corral misses at a high rate. However, he is not a great finisher, lacks touch, and needs to improve his footwork and post moves.

Although Steven Adams is a very raw talent and will be a long-term project, I believe his potential as an NBA center, coupled with his great physical profile, makes him a good prospect to target with a mid-first round pick. While his offensive game will take time to develop, he will be able to contribute on the defensive end immediately. Furthermore, he apparently had some great workouts in the last month.

If the Suns acquire a late lottery or mid-first round pick, Steven Adams could be a solid candidate to consider. Also, he has a cool accent and is one of the best interviewees in the draft.



A draft that nets the Suns Ben McLemore, Tony Snell, and Steven Adams in Phoenix would have to be considered a success. In the first two, the Suns would get talent, athleticism, shooting, and depth at the wing positions and in the latter, they would get a great big man to groom for the future.

With Ryan McDonough seemingly targeting prospects at every stage in the draft, anything can happen. Stay tuned for more prospect previews...and of course, the draft on Thursday!
Poll
If the Suns acquire a late lottery/mid-first round pick, how would you rate the selection of Steven Adams?

  231 votes | Results

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