Suns GM Ryan McDonough gives in depth detail to the NBA Draft workout process.
With the Suns having the 14th, 18th, 27th and 50th picks this can be a more extensive process for them than other organizations, especially when you include the flexibility to move up or down with the four picks.
General manager Ryan McDonough gave a general overview of what he likes to get out these sessions.
"You hope the workouts do confirm what your eyes have told you all year," explained McDonough. "Our scouts have traveled around the world to see these guys in person. We've watched a lot of videotape on them."
"We want to get them in here to see how they've developed and what they've been working on since their season's ended. Also see what kind of condition they're in and have them get a lot of shots up. Put them in some different situations that they may not have been put in with their college or international teams. It's a bit of all that, but most importantly for us to get to know them a little more and spend some time with them and get to see where they are as players."
In this setting Phoenix's brass gets to see the hopeful draftees in different situations than they're typically exposed to.
"Most of the time these guys played, whether it be for their college teams or internationally, they're the best player on the court or the best player at their position," said McDonough. "This is obviously a process of elimination for us. In some ways it's kind of the best against the best."
"We try to match up the top guy at certain positions and have them go. There's no hiding out here. There's no guys that aren't comparable to NBA players physically, athletically or in terms of their production. We try to match them up and have them go head to head and see who the best guys are."
Within those matchups the groups of at most six are put together with a specific thought process in mind even though because of the tight time frame it isn't always able to be pulled off.
"We try to do that at least initially to have two point guards, two wing players and two big men. You can only have six players in a workout at a time," the Suns GM walked us through on how he preferred to have the workouts be organized.
"We feel like doing it this way simulates game action the best. You can see some pick and roll situations, you can play some three on three full court, you have individual match ups that are pretty good, you get to see how guys guard different positions if they're cross matched."
"We've tried to do it that way early. As you guys know there's a limited time that we have to get these guys in, the draft is in less than a month and there's 29 teams trying to do the same thing we are. We take them whenever we can get them, ideally we'd like to set it up this way."
Despite having a lengthy history in the league, last offseason was McDonough's first year as the man in charge of everything. Going into year two the adjustment period is over and it's full steam ahead.
"I feel like we've streamlined everything," he said. "Last year as this was going on we hired a head coach, putting together a coaching staff and tweaking some things with our training staff with how we wanted it to go. This year we've been through it."
"The format this year was very similar to what we ended up with last year, not necessarily what we started with throughout the workout process, we added things, added different drills. This year everybody is comfortable working with each other. The coaches know their roles, they've been through it once as well. There weren't any drastic tweaks, I just think we're more organized this year."
When it comes to the actual workouts McDonough takes a back seat and leaves the job to head coach Jeff Hornacek and his staff.
"Jeff and the coaching staff put together most of it," said McDonough. "It's pretty standard. We don't change it that much."
"We feel like we have a good variety of some competitive action - 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3, we go up and down a decent amount, we do a lot of shooting. We try to mirror how the Suns play as much as we can. We did the three-minute conditioning run at the end, which the guys hate. If you're gonna play like we play and try to lead the league in fast break points you're gonna have to get up and down. We try to simulate game action as much as we can while only having two to six guys on the court at a time."
While observing what's going on McDonough explained what he likes to keep an eye out for.
"Personally I like to get a feel for what they've been doing since their season ended. We watched them practice during the season; we watched them play during the season. We're trying to get a feel for what they've been working on, have they improved, what kind of shape they're in."
"You'd be surprised the guys come in at different levels of conditioning and readiness for these workouts. Some you can tell have been doing similar workouts are very well prepared. They come in and nail the workout, and other guys are either out of shape or unprepared. We try to take that all into account. Most importantly we spend that one on one time with them cause that's really the thing we don't get during the season."
Draft workouts clearly aren't the be all end all when evaluating prospects, but you can see from McDonough's comments on Tuesday the value they have as an information gatherer in the process.
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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