Welcome to the Madhouse! Bright Side of the Sun is an amazing and diverse community and it deserves a place where the tyranny of topicality does not rule. And that's what The Madhouse is. It's Bright Side of the Sun's place to talk about whatever you want, whenever you want: favorite TV shows, news from around the league or how The Madhouse took a Memorial Day holiday. It's all fair game here.
Draft workout season began today, May 27, at US Airways Center with the Suns hosting several second-round prospects.
Last year, the Phoenix Suns brought in a league high 60 players to US Airways Center to participate in group workouts of 4-6 players at a time. New GM Ryan McDonough organized the workouts with a bare bones front office missing most of its current shape and certainly all playing with a brand new deck of cards.
This year, McDonough and his full team can focus on nothing but basketball. Watch out, NBA. The Suns are starting nearly a week earlier, hosting their first group workout on Tuesday with reportedly another on Wednesday featuring Jahii Carson, one on Thursday with P.J. Hairston and another on Friday featuring Russ Smith.
The Suns have picks number 14, 18, 27 and 50 in the Draft, meaning they will probably try to exceed last year's count of 60 prospects simply because their pick range is everywhere and anywhere.
Today's workout was loaded with second round talent, but only Deonte Burton and Artem Klimenko are projected to be drafted in DX's latest mock draft.
There was no media access to the players today, but here's what the Suns GM and Head Coach had to say about today's workout:
On this group of players and who stood out:
"Alec Brown's shooting really stands out at his size...Artem Klimenko was the youngest player at the workout and his skill for his size stood out. Jakarr Sampson and Jamil Wilson's ability to guard defensively and athleticism stood out. Deonte Burton is very stong and pretty productive college player...Keith Appling had a lot of success on one of the best teams in the country at Michigan St. and he stood out in three on three play."
"They all had their moments, nobody dominated the workout"
On having multiple picks in the draft:
"The good thing about our picks is flexibility...We feel like we can get anywhere in the draft, except for the high, high end of the lottery...We can get anywhere we want to get."
"If there are guys who are undervalued and we need to move to get them, we'll do that...like we did last year with Archie Goodwin".
On how he and Ryan McDonough view prospects differently:
"As coaches we naturally tend to think...can they play immediately? Whereas Ryan has done this now for 11 or 12 years and he sees guys and how they develop...and I think he has a better view on how they can be four or five years down the line."
On what he liked from today's group
"They're very athletic, and they all played hard...I think there's some of these guys that if they can improve their shot it will give them a better chance of playing in this league. They all lend their different things...whether it's shooting, rebounding, or going after the ball. When we do some of the drills we really want to see if they can pass the ball at the right time, especially for the point guards that we bring in, and I think these guys did it."
Another workout is scheduled tomorrow...Stay tuned
Can pass, defend, slash and score in the open court, but comes into the league having trouble making jumpers. Yep, that fits the new Phoenix Suns draft model to a T.
One of the late risers in this NBA Draft is a rangy point guard who can play both offense and defense, though he is quite rough around the edges and played only in the smaller Sun Belt Conference. Point guard Elfrid Payton has the size, athleticism and talent to be one of the best players in the Draft, but he is not a great scorer nor is he very aggressive on offense when his team needs him to score.
A look at his strengths and weaknesses makes you think of Rajon Rondo or Ricky Rubio - guys with great athleticism who can get by in the NBA with passing and high level defense, but who cannot shoot with consistency no matter how open they are.
Even years into their careers, Rondo and Rubio cannot be counted on to make open shots and don't even want to try unless forced or they're feeling especially good about their game. And we're not talking jumpers from distance here. Rondo and Rubio both struggle to even make their open layups with consistency. But they can make up for their lack of shooting by hounding their opponent into a bad shooting night as well.
Payton is the same type of player in nearly every respect. Where Rubio and Rondo rank ahead of Payton is their incredible ability to find the open man even when the defense sags off. Those two can get 10 assists before they get 10 points. Payton has to prove he can do this too, or figure out how to score. He was second in the NCAA in assists per 40 minutes (6.7).
In many respects, Elfrid Payton is the "new Suns model" - great athleticism and basketball IQ that just needs to learn how to score (and make jumpers) consistently. His shooting form is awful, and will have to be completely remade. We'll see how that process works this season with Archie Goodwin, another young guard with everything going for him but shooting.
As rookie, Goran Dragic could not finish at the rim or make jumpers with any consistency. He got his points at the open court. As the years passed, Dragic figured out how to use his athleticism to create separation and score at the rim. Then he became a dead-eye shooter this past season.
Bledsoe couldn't shoot either, and still really struggles to make long jumpers with consistency. But he figured out how to score at the rim with his thick body, and he developed a short-range jumper in the paint as well.
On the Suns, Payton would be a supersized Ish Smith who could spend the next couple of years developing into the next great point guard prospect if he can learn how to score with consistency.
The Phoenix Suns have three picks from 14-27 and Payton could be taken with any of them. Payton would be a high end prospect as a good insurance policy in case Dragic or Bledsoe leaves in free agency or trade in the next year or so.
In the meantime, Payton is young enough and comes from a small-enough background to slide right into Ish Smith's third point guard role and the Suns wouldn't miss a beat, while Payton has a much higher ceiling than Smith. Payton is bigger and has a much better game at the rim than Ish.
Years ago, a Suns coach couldn't imagine rotation time for a point guard who couldn't shoot (Rondo), no matter how talented he was in every other area. Think Jeff Hornacek feels the same?
Elfrid Payton and Archie Goodwin could be the back court of the future for the Suns IF either or both can figure out how to make consistent jump shots.