The Phoenix Suns┬ádesperately┬áneed to hit a home run with the 13th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, not just for the team’s slowly dwindling future, but for its oft-criticized front office as...

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The following contains elements of Draft Express's breakdown of Tristan Thompson in addition to my own thoughts and opinions. Although I'll do my best to educate you about the strengths and weaknesses of the former Longhorn, I still highly recommend checking out Draft Express yourself.

TRISTAN THOMPSON

  • Position - Power Foward
  • School - Texas (1 season)
  • Important Measurables - Height: 6'9"; Weight: 227 lbs; Wingspan: 7'1.25"; Standing Reach: 9'0.5"
  • 2010-2011 Stats - 13.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg (3.8 orpg), 2.4 bpg, 54.6 fg%, 48.7 ft%

FIRST WORD

Tristan Thompson is probably the name that is most commonly linked to Phoenix in mock drafts. All the signs are pointing to the Suns drafting a big man, and Thompson could be the high-potential power forward the Suns desperately need. Hit the jump for a breakdown of his game.

OFFENSE

Thompson is a high-motor player who scores many of his points on hustle plays. He's very quick and is an excellent offensive rebounder which leads to a lot of easy put-backs and close looks. But outside of his offensive rebounding prowess, he is extremely raw offensively. While watching some clips of him, I was reminded of a young Amar'e Stoudemire. Thompson does not have any sort of a developed back-to-the-basket game and often resorted to crazy fall-away shots if he couldn't get close enough to dunk it. He also is not a particularly gifted passer. However, he did show signs of becoming a good face-up player as the season rolled on, preferring to use his quickness to blow by his man and finish at the rim. You may be saying to yourself at this point, "A young Amar'e? Draft that kid!" But the problem in that he's not Amar'e. STAT is bigger, more explosive, and has a uniquely soft touch around the basket that I just don't see with Thompson. This lack of touch and his raw skillset really manifest themselves in his mid-range jumper, which is virtually non-existent. With his quickness, he could develop into a nice pick-and-roll finisher, and this might be one area on offense where he can contribute.

DEFENSE

Where Thompson has a long way to go on offense, he is much more ready to contribute defensively. His quick feet and length mean he can be a real disruptive force in the paint. Although a bit under-sized, Thompson has a strong lower body and will hopefully be able to hold his own in the post. His game against Arizona's Derrick Williams, where he held the top pick to just 4-14 shooting, shows that he has what it takes to lock down the best of the best. DX suggests that he may even be able to stay with some small forwards, which is a testament to his defensive versatility. Considering how good the Texas big man is at cleaning up the offensive glass, it may surprise you to learn that his defensive rebounding fundamentals are not quite up to snuff. He is often caught out of position and can frequently be seen watching the ball rather than looking for a man to box out. This is an area he must improve, although with the effort he shows in the rest of his game this should be easily corrected.

PERSONALITY/CHARACTER

Here's his interview with DX so you can judge this category for yourself. I will say this though: Earl Clark he is not.

Tristan Thompson Draft Combine Interview (via DraftExpress)

Oh, and he's Canadian.


BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

Tristan Thompson has a lot of potential, but he has a long way to go. He will likely be more ready to play right away than last year's draft pick Gani Lawal, and he could challenge Lawal and Hakim Warrick for the back-up PF spot as a rookie. But if he's taken, don't expect much more than Lou Amundson production.

If you don't believe me, here's DX's conclusion:

Thompson's potential, at this point at least, far outweighs his ability to contribute in the NBA and any team looking to draft him should be patient. It would be ideal for Thompson to develop alongside of a skilled center and a creative point guard, as his energy and athleticism are by far his most attractive attributes at this stage and he will likely struggle to create or produce on his own much initially. It is far more likely, however, that he will begin his career coming off of the bench and that playing time will depend on his energy level and defensive effectiveness.

I'm not sure how much of his potential Thompson will be able to realize, but judging by this paragraph Phoenix seems to be an excellent team for him to begin his career with. Marcin Gortat anchoring the middle means he can be free to move around off the ball, and Steve Nash will always get him the ball where he can be successful with it. While he's not my favorite prospect in this draft, I wouldn't mind if he's the pick at #13 (assuming players like Biyombo, etc. are already gone).

So what do you think my fellow Bright-Siders?

Poll
Do we want the Texas big man at #13?

  154 votes | Results


The following contains elements of Draft Express's breakdown of Tristan Thompson in addition to my own thoughts and opinions. Although I'll do my best to educate you about the strengths and weaknesses of the former Longhorn, I still highly recommend checking out Draft Express yourself.

TRISTAN THOMPSON

  • Position - Power Foward
  • School - Texas (1 season)
  • Important Measurables - Height: 6'9"; Weight: 227 lbs; Wingspan: 7'1.25"; Standing Reach: 9'0.5"
  • 2010-2011 Stats - 13.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg (3.8 orpg), 2.4 bpg, 54.6 fg%, 48.7 ft%

FIRST WORD

Tristan Thompson is probably the name that is most commonly linked to Phoenix in mock drafts. All the signs are pointing to the Suns drafting a big man, and Thompson could be the high-potential power forward the Suns desperately need. Hit the jump for a breakdown of his game.

 

 

OFFENSE

Thompson is a high-motor player who scores many of his points on hustle plays. He's very quick and is an excellent offensive rebounder which leads to a lot of easy put-backs and close looks. But outside of his offensive rebounding prowess, he is extremely raw offensively. While watching some clips of him, I was reminded of a young Amar'e Stoudemire. Thompson does not have any sort of a developed back-to-the-basket game and often resorted to crazy fall-away shots if he couldn't get close enough to dunk it. He also is not a particularly gifted passer. However, he did show signs of becoming a good face-up player as the season rolled on, preferring to use his quickness to blow by his man and finish at the rim. You may be saying to yourself at this point, "A young Amar'e? Draft that kid!" But the problem in that he's not Amar'e. STAT is bigger, more explosive, and has a uniquely soft touch around the basket that I just don't see with Thompson. This lack of touch and his raw skillset really manifest themselves in his mid-range jumper, which is virtually non-existent. With his quickness, he could develop into a nice pick-and-roll finisher, and this might be one area on offense where he can contribute.

DEFENSE

Where Thompson has a long way to go on offense, he is much more ready to contribute defensively. His quick feet and length mean he can be a real disruptive force in the paint. Although a bit under-sized, Thompson has a strong lower body and will hopefully be able to hold his own in the post. His game against Arizona's Derrick Williams, where he held the top pick to just 4-14 shooting, shows that he has what it takes to lock down the best of the best. DX suggests that he may even be able to stay with some small forwards, which is a testament to his defensive versatility. Considering how good the Texas big man is at cleaning up the offensive glass, it may surprise you to learn that his defensive rebounding fundamentals are not quite up to snuff. He is often caught out of position and can frequently be seen watching the ball rather than looking for a man to box out. This is an area he must improve, although with the effort he shows in the rest of his game this should be easily corrected.

PERSONALITY/CHARACTER

Here's his interview with DX so you can judge this category for yourself. I will say this though: Earl Clark he is not.

Tristan Thompson Draft Combine Interview (via DraftExpress)

Oh, and he's Canadian.


BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

Tristan Thompson has a lot of potential, but he has a long way to go. He will likely be more ready to play right away than last year's draft pick Gani Lawal, and he could challenge Lawal and Hakim Warrick for the back-up PF spot as a rookie. But if he's taken, don't expect much more than Lou Amundson production.

If you don't believe me, here's DX's conclusion:

Thompson's potential, at this point at least, far outweighs his ability to contribute in the NBA and any team looking to draft him should be patient. It would be ideal for Thompson to develop alongside of a skilled center and a creative point guard, as his energy and athleticism are by far his most attractive attributes at this stage and he will likely struggle to create or produce on his own much initially. It is far more likely, however, that he will begin his career coming off of the bench and that playing time will depend on his energy level and defensive effectiveness.

I'm not sure how much of his potential Thompson will be able to realize, but judging by this paragraph Phoenix seems to be an excellent team for him to begin his career with. Marcin Gortat anchoring the middle means he can be free to move around off the ball, and Steve Nash will always get him the ball where he can be successful with it. While he's not my favorite prospect in this draft, I wouldn't mind if he's the pick at #13 (assuming players like Biyombo, etc. are already gone).

So what do you think my fellow Bright-Siders?

Poll
Do we want the Texas big man at #13?

  169 votes | Results




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To countdown the days (4 left) until D-Day, your faithful servants here at Bright Side of the Sun will try their best to bring you a wee bit of knowledge about some of the likely candidates to be chosen by the Phoenix Suns. Be excellent to each other.

As we look at draft prospects, comparisons to proven NBA players provide a point of reference. Sometimes they're a bit optimistic, but they tell us the mold of the player. Jimmer Fredette idolizes Steve Nash. Chris Singleton compares himself to Scottie Pippen. Bismack Biyombo has "Ben Wallace" written all over him as a best case scenario, while Kenneth Faried projects as a Lou Amundson-type hustle player. May I interest Suns fans in a player who models his game after Paul Pierce? Jump it to meet Texas SG/SF Jordan Hamilton.

Tale of the tape

Jordan Hamilton

  • College: Texas, played 2 years of college basketball.
  • Age: 20
  • Height/Weight: 6'8", 228 lbs
  • 2010/2011 stats: 18.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.1 APG on 48.1% 2 ptrs and 38.5% 3 ptrs

Hamilton is a smooth scorer, a volume shooter who is also efficient. He attempted 6.5 3s per 32 minutes last year, making 39% of them. While an excellent spot up shooter, Hamilton showed significant improvement in his second year at Texas at creating his own shots with runners, mid-range jumpers and floaters. His length allows him to get his shot off against most other SGs and he has terrific size for the NBA as well, comparing favorably to Joe Johnson in that area. Scouts agree that Hamilton will score effectively at the NBA level, and should be able to contribute right away. Texas won 28 games with him as their go-to scorer last year, as Hamilton was named 2nd team All-American and made the Academic All-Big 12 team. He may have left school early, but he's no dummy. Let's hear from Hamilton himself.

Defensively, he's a work in progress. His fundamentals are poor right now and, as per Draft Express, "his intensity level isn't very high". Matt Patton of the Big 12 Hoops blog here on SBN paints a more positive picture of Hamilton's work on that end of the floor (note also that he has Hamilton as Texas' MVP last season, and not Tristan Thompson) but I think it's safe to say that defense is not his strength. Regardless, here's their summary at DE:

All in all, Hamilton is clearly a big time offensive talent with a game that is probably better suited for the more wide-open style of the NBA. The superior spacing and faster pace of the professional game will make his shooting and overall scoring ability stand out even more. If he wants to reach his full potential, though, he must improve his mentality on both ends of the floor.

Hmm, does that remind you of any particular NBA team? A certain one with a floppy-haired Canadian point guard and a coach who often ends sentences with "OK?" Hamilton could do a lot of the things Jason Richardson used to do for the Suns except that, at age 20, there is still hope that Hamilton's questionable defense can improve, while J-Rich is what he is at this point in his career. And, Hamilton's rebounding average of 7.7 per game last year translates to 8.6 per 36 minutes, outstanding even for a small forward should he end up playing that position, and stellar for a shooting guard.

I hear the questions you all have. "Aren't the Suns trying to add defense and either a big man or a PG to succeed Nash? Hamilton sounds like more of the same for this team. He also sounds more like a SF, and don't we already have like 25 of them?"

Fair questions, but hear this: none of the current Suns wing players have the dynamic scoring potential of Hamilton. Grant Hill obviously did in his prime, but he'll be 39 when next season eventually begins and his prime is far behind him. Jared Dudley showed some promise in expanding his offensive game, but how much more can realistically be expected? Josh Childress' jump shot is, um, not great. And Mickael Pietrus is a loose cannon chucker, albeit an occasionally effective one.

Besides, how many of those guys do we expect to be around for the long haul? While it might seem like Hill will play forever, he won't. Would love to keep Dudley for years, but we might need to trade him to secure help elsewhere. Pietrus is also a trade chip, and he's in the last year of his contract. Due to Childress' contract, he's probably here for awhile, but his game isn't Hamilton's. Adding Hamilton adds no redundancy of skill set.

A team's needs change, so we have to think long-term. The most important thing in the draft is that you end up with an NBA-skilled player. Hamilton's that player. I have no doubt he'll have a long career in which he scores a lot of points. His defensive weaknesses can be improved through maturity and coaching. He has the tools to be fine on that end. It won't address our needs at PF or PG if we draft a player at one of those positions who isn't legitimate. Hamilton is legitimate at what he does. Let's look at some more pretty moving pictures.

In a weak draft, getting Hamilton at #13 would provide great value, and I want him on the Suns. He has weaknesses, but all of the prospects do. His strengths outweigh them, and will be magnified playing on the Suns. This is a player who can grow into a guy we want taking late game shots, and those aren't easy to find. At the very least, he's firepower off the bench. Sure, it won't address our needs at other positions, but that's where Babby and Blanks need to earn their keep and pull off a shrewd trade or two. Drafting a PF just to "fill a need" won't do us any good unless the PF we take is the real deal, and the ones who are likely to be available at #13 aren't all that impressive.

What say you? If Hamilton's available at #13, should we draft him?

Poll
Should the Suns draft Jordan Hamilton if he's available at #13?

  209 votes | Results


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