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It wouldn't be draft season without a bit of controversy. This week, that controversy surrounds leaks to the media about work ethic and maturity issues with the top 2 overall prospects in the 2013 NBA Draft.

You have to ask yourself why these leaks are out there. Who benefits? Well, it allows Cleveland to muddy the waters a bit more on who they take #1 overall. The inevitable backlash they'd receive over passing on Noel and/or McLemore would lessen if there were fresh, legitimate questions of character. It's a lot like a political race. Smear the one you don't like to make your favorite look a little cleaner by comparison.

Nerlens Noel

Since the early days of last college basketball season, Nerlens Noel has been the top prospect coming out of college. As an 18-year old freshman at Kentucky, Noel averaged nearly 10 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game. He showed a natural ability to defend the post, provide weak side defense and alter shots near the rim.

Noel also showed a rudimentary offensive game limited to putbacks and rolls to the rim, but those limitations are skill-based which can be learned over time. He also needs to put on weight, which is true of any 18 year old. In fact, 7-foot 18 year olds who don't need to put on weight should have a red flag of their own, because it's just natural to gain weight in your 20s.

But none of those deficiencies detracted from Noel's clear No. 1 status in this NBA Draft. No other player has the upside, the ceiling of Nerlens Noel.

Yet when Noel tore up his leg (and yes, I realize the very first comment is going to be dudotski posting that disgusting gif or pic of Noel's injury because that's just what dudoski does), the fears of his wafer-thin legs' ability to stand up to the NBA rigors began to form.

Add in some character questions - recent rumors of being "handled" to much by his handlers, refusing to visit teams outside the top 2, missing meetings and interviews - and you've got a full-blown chance controversy.

Top it off with Cleveland's "need" to make the playoffs next season, we just might see an NBA Draft where the very best player is not taken No. 1 overall because he will miss a chunk of the season.

If Noel drops out of No. 1, how far does he drop?

Can Orlando, who love Vucevic and need a shooting guard, pass on him?

Can Washington, who really need a small forward, pass on Noel? Washington has veterans on the front line and a need to make the playoffs just like Cleveland and a bigger hole at small forward (Otto Porter) than center.

Or Charlotte, who need help in the pivot but really, really need an offensive force down there? Charlotte already boasts a developmental defensive whiz in Bismack Biyombo. What they really need is offense in the post.

Could Noel drop into the Suns lap? If that happens, would the Suns blink twice before taking Noel?

Suns GM Ryan McDonough said yesterday he doesn't anticipate drafting any player at 5 who hasn't visited the Valley before next week's draft, but could he really pass on Noel?

Ben McLemore

Like Noel, Ben McLemore has been stop the prospect charts all season long. He's got a sweet shooting stroke and the ability to fill it up offensively from the field, often being compared to a Ray Allen. McLemore is long (6'9" wingspan) and uber-athletic, possessing the talent to be an impact defender as well as scorer.

Yet, McLemore was passive in college. He never demanded the ball, or took over games. Part of that is because he's not good at handling the ball. He's a shooter, not a passer. Like a Jamal Crawford, for example.

And now, Chad Ford leaked that there are red flags with 19-year old McLemore. He's apparently been dogging it in workouts. We all know he's been refusing to compete against other top players (Porter has refused as well), and now Ford says he has sources who tell him McLemore was unimpressive in his Phoenix visit, having trouble keeping up in the drills designed by head coach Jeff Hornacek.

Ford:

McLemore remains in the top 5, but I'm starting to have my doubts. I love the talent. But his lack of preparation for the draft is hurting him. Multiple sources told me that his workout in Phoenix was not impressive; he wasn't in shape, and he struggled to keep up in the workout. I heard similar things in Orlando. McLemore is in a tug-of-war right now between adviser Rodney Blackstock and his agency Rivals. It's kept McLemore out of the gym and for the most part, out of workouts. How much will all of this affect the draft stock? I'm told teams are worried. But how worried? Enough for one of the most talented players in the draft to slide further? If the Suns pass on McLemore, both C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams are possibilities here.

What I recall is Hornacek lauding McLemore's shooting stroke, in the post-workout interview. He liked that McLemore didn't need that extra step to gather himself on a catch-and-shoot. That his stroke was pure and quick, making it harder to defend.

The latest ESPN mock draft has Oladipo going #2 to Orlando, while McLemore drops to Phoenix at 5th.

If McLemore drops to Phoenix at #5, I would be ecstatic. I would be happy with either McLemore or Oladipo. They bring different skills to the table, but McLemore has the offensive skills that Phoenix desperately needs.

Oladipo and Len

The obvious beneficiaries of Noel and McLemore dropping are the next best center (Alex Len) and the next best shooting guard (Victor Oladipo).

Alex Len has been in a boot this whole workout season with a broken foot, only visiting teams for interviews. So, he has not had a chance to mess anything up. By not even participating in workouts, and not getting a rep for avoiding them, Len can only rise up the charts. There's a chance he goes #1 overall to Cleveland, with a floor likely at #4 (Charlotte).

Victor Oladipo, on the other hand, has been totally healthy and participating in every single workout against every other shooting guard prospect he can find. He has no qualms against competing and he's a heck of a good interview.

Oladipo might just be taken #1 overall by Cleveland, but my guess is that's ONLY if Cleveland has traded the pick to someone else. Cleveland already has Dion Waiters at shooting guard. It's possible they go with a three-guard lineup, but that's not the blueprint you lay out with your top picks.

Oladipo's most probable landing spots for Oladipo are #2 Orlando and #5 Phoenix.

What this means to the Suns

Well, I guess it means that Nerlens Noel might-just-might drop to #5. If that happens, likely both Oladipo and McLemore are already off the board.

But the most likely scenario still has Phoenix getting whoever drops to 5 between Oladipo and McLemore.

Either way, the Suns are winners.

Whether the San Antonio Spurs and their fan base consider the Phoenix Suns a rival or not matters little. Two of the Western Conference’s winningest franchises have quite the history because of...

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Whether the San Antonio Spurs and their fan base consider the Phoenix Suns a rival or not matters little. Two of the Western Conference’s winningest franchises have quite the history because of...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
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The Phoenix Suns held their eighth workout leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft that included more options at No. 57 and a familiar face for the third time. No big names. No first round prospects. Just another workout showing the due diligence nature of GM Ryan McDonough as well as his thorough approach to his first draft running the Suns.

This workout was highlighted by no players rated on the Top 75 of the Big Board, but had some familiar faces. Korie Lucious (Iowa State) was in for the third time for a workout. By now hopefully the team has his number picked out for Summer League and his locker name plate printed out.

Another familiar (name) with ties to the Suns today was Elston Turner Jr. His dad was an assistant here in Phoenix for a few years before being unceremoniously left out of the mix as the interim head coach.

Turner Jr. is a defensive stopper with great size and strength to defend multiple perimeter positions, but was inconsistent as an offensive weapon in college. He has the potential as a shooter, but as a one-on-one scorer he has a ways to go on the offensive end as a whole. Pledger has a similar build as a big, physical guard.

The rest of the workout group had some interesting prospects like Snaer, who became a household name for his heroics including multiple game-winners during his career. Clark is a combo guard that can play both positions and at times was the reason Belmont was so successful in their two-guard system. A system that is relevant in today's NBA.

Dunk City was in attendance as well with Brown who has a nice overall skill-set and was afforded this opportunity based on his teams success in the tournament.

Six months ago, to tell you the truth, I would not have been able to tell you I would be here in this moment. I knew that I had the talent to be here, but I didn't think I was going to have the chance to showcase it.

Here is a scouting take on the prospects:

  • Michael Snaer -- Florida State -- Senior shooting guard: Over the years he has collected his share of game-winners (four, see below) and has the ability to knock down tough shots. He is undersized as a full-time two and lacks the ability to consistently create offense for himself.
  • Elston Turner Jr. -- Texas A&M -- Senior wing: Big, strong physical wing that can be imposing on the defensive end when he is not trying to be an offensive player. He is a quality shooter with space, but not a iso-heavy type scorer. Turner has pedigree with a father that has played and coached in the NBA.
  • Sherwood Brown -- Florida Gulf Coast -- Senior guard: The glue to "Dunk City" is more that just a highlight reel. He can handle the ball, score, get to the rim, and rebound the ball well for his position.
  • Ian Clark -- Belmont -- Senior point guard: Not as highly regarded as his teammate from Belmont, but Clark has the size and play-making ability to be a quality point guard at any level. Quality athlete, good scorer, and feel for the game.
  • Korie Lucious -- Iowa State -- Senior guard: Third time around the Suns know him well. Combo guard, quality defender, and good shooter. Had some issues off the court leading to a transfer, but made the most of the situation at ISU.
  • Steven Pledger -- Oklahoma -- Senior guard: Another sturdy wing with great strength and size for position. Quality defender and good three-point shooter.

***Jeff Hornacek will coach the Summer League team with at least Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Diante Garrett, P.J. Tucker, and the draft picks this year

***Overall, the count is now at 56 total players worked out

***The team might have a few more group workouts here this week as early as Thursday

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As has been rumored for weeks in real life, my "mock" front office saw the logic in making a trade Marcin Gortat to the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for Joel Freeland (2 yrs, $3 mill per year) and the #10 overall pick.

SB Nation Mock Draft

Suns acquire #10, draft Gobert


Trading Gortat

It's time to get the most possible for Gortat, and the Trailblazers obliged with giving back the #10 pick. While the Blazers need to get "older" with a veteran center to play next to LaMarcus Aldridge, the Suns need to get a lot younger.

The trade, as rumored in real life and executed in this mock draft, cannot be completed until the new league year starts. But that didn't stop us, and it doesn't often stop real teams either. (though that might have allowed GS to wiggle out of the Amare trade in 2009, because it wasn't finalized on draft night, but that's just a rumor)

Really, the Suns need to get younger and Marcin Gortat, who will be 30 and playing for another team this time next year, is one of their best assets. Getting a 2013 lottery pick - #10 even! - is a heckuva deal.

Rudy Gobert

At the time of the mock draft (two weeks ago today), 21-year old Rudy Gobert was ranked on most sites the best available pure center after Nerlens Noel and Alex Len. With those two off the board, it was still a toss up between Gobert, Cody Zeller (20) and Steven Adams (19) for me.

My fellow front office folks were also torn between the three, and even Mason Plumlee, but nbadraftinsider,com's Managing Editor and the only real live NBA scout in our "mock" front office Kris Habbas gave a great scouting report on Gobert to sell us all on him.

Obviously there is a chance for him to not pan out, but in all honestly, what is the difference between Gobert and Noel? They are both quality defensive prospects with one main skill to hang their hat on; Shot-Blocking.

Noel is a better overall athlete, but Gobert is further along physically and has the tools to be a great defender. He is efficient on offense and has to improved year-by-year on that end showing potential of being a 10-10-3 type player.

Can he be a bust? Absolutely, but so can Noel, Len, Zeller, Adams, and the other high profile big men. That is the risk with drafting a big.

Who should they target at 10? If you have Oladipo already and are losing Gortat the easiest thing to do is draft a five. Gobert is the highest rated five to me left. If you are not in love with Gobert then I shy away from the position altogether because Olynyk and Zeller have higher bust potential than Gobert.

Well, I really wanted a five and so Gobert was the pick. On the actual draft night, the Suns' pick might be different. Gobert came to Phoenix weeks ago - at the start of the workout season - while Steven Adams came in at the end, just a few days ago. It's possible they like Adams more.

The wildcard here is Mason Plumlee, older than the others but extremely athletic. If the Suns see too much bust potential in Gobert and Adams, then maybe they go with a more sure thing in Mason Plumlee from Duke who will already be 23 or 24 next season as a rookie. Lower ceiling, but higher floor.

Why not Cody Zeller? The mock front office thinks he will be a 4 in the NBA, not a 5. The Suns have a few guys who play the 4, and are bringing back Channing Frye next year too. They really need a 5.

But then again, maybe Zeller has the highest ceiling overall and so maybe he's the better pick.

But I took Gobert. Deal with it.

What of the other lottery pick trades?

None of the others worked out. We decided that none of the trade offers from Detroit (8), Minnesota (9) and OKC (12) gave the Suns enough of a return. Better to hold onto Dudley than to take on salary.

If Dudley goes, then salary needs to be cleared AND the Suns need to get a young prospect as well.

What's next?

With Victor Oladipo and Rudy Gobert officially "mock" Phoenix Suns, that is not all. Oh no, that is not all.

The Suns still hold a lot of cards - Dudley, young players Morris, Morris and Marshall, and the #30 overall.

Surprisingly to some Suns fans, these were somewhat coveted assets to teams outside the top 10.

Since Dudley was a #21 pick himself and is not a true NBA starter on a championship team (as Eric from canishoopus.com said: "we missed the part where he is a multi-time All Star"), maybe the better deals are a few picks away.

I spent the next few days of our Mock Draft negotiating for more youth - I wanted at least two new young players with the second half of the first round.

The more youth, the better.

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