With so many topics and questions for the Phoenix Suns this summer, there is no time for even a week off. After reviewing the coaching hire, the No. 5 pick, and the No. 30 pick, here we are: back at the table this week to discuss another topic that needs evaluation. Just like any other "family", we have varying opinions and some banter to back it up.
Fourth Topic: Five Questions on the No. 57 Pick
1. Breaking the Ice: How much do you value the No. 57 pick?
Dave King: Well, I believe Gortat was a #57 pick and that's exactly what a 57 should be: an international prospect with a future. Other than that, for every Isaiah Thomas (the Kings' one), there's a hundred Dwayne Collins.
Jacob Padilla: Every pick in the draft is an asset and has some inherent value. However, the likelihood of finding a keeper that late in the draft is pretty low. But then again, having a pick, especially for a team bereft of talent like the Suns, is definitely better than not having one. I see the 57th pick as something similar to a scratch off ticket. With it, you're not likely to hit any kind of sizable jackpot, but there is a decent chance you can win your money back or perhaps even a little more.
Kris Habbas: I value it the same way that the team apparently does; like an asset. They are able to bring in a lot of different, talented prospects between the three picks, and there might be a surprise player that they love (or that just makes it) with the pick.
Richard Parker: Not too much, to be honest. It's still an asset but one that doesn't have too much value, simply due to the fact that rarely, there are very few players that get picked at the end of the second round that make a living for themselves in the NBA. However, there's still a possibility of finding talent, especially since McDonough and Hornacek (who was a mid-second round pick himself) value draft picks very highly.
Sean Sullivan: Honestly, not that much. If the Suns can manage to find a contributor of any sort with that pick, it will be considered a home run. Sure, there are always exceptions (whom always seem to find their way to the Spurs), but we shouldn't be hoping for a starter or major contributor with the 57th pick... a role player would be awesome.
2. Should the team go with the "draft and stash" approach with an international prospect?
JP: The draft-and-stash method is one commonly employed at that point in the draft and is definitely something worth considering since the Suns have three picks. Alternatively, the Suns could stick to homegrown products and try to find someone that brings at least one legitimate NBA skill and therefore can provide value as a rotation player.
KH: If a prospect like Alex Abrines or Bojan Dubljevic are there at No. 57, I agree with this strategy. They are the most talented international prospects that could be in that range, but another avenue (if they do not go center with 5 or 30) is to try and find a big able body here. Look at Walter Tavares (Cape Verde), Marko Todorovic (Serbia), Mindaugas Kupsas (Lithuania) as big me options.
RP: Sure, if they feel like it. We're most likely to bring in at least two rookies (maybe even another if Gortat or Dudley is traded) from the first round. So it'd make sense to stash the 57th pick. If we do that though, there's a big chance we'll never see that player come over to the NBA.
SS: Absolutely. If the Suns can find potential long-term value with their 57th pick in the form of an international prospect who could take a few years to "season", that would probably be the best case scenario.
DK: Yes, they should take someone who can play overseas for another year or two or three.
JP: Very, very low. Looking at the last ten drafts, the following are the best picks: Robert Sacre, Isaiah Thomas, Lester Hudson, Semih Erden and Marcin Gortat. That's 5 players out of 40 picks that have been able to have some sort of role in the NBA. If you're talking starting-caliber players, that leaves Thomas and Gortat, 2 out of 40. According to the last decade of picks, the Suns have a 5% chance of drafting a starter at 57 or later. (I spent way too much time looking stuff up before answering this)
KH: Well, those three players are the only ones that have made a significant impact at the NBA level being drafted 57th or later... So, that is a 0.07% chance to strike gold.
RP: I'd say very low - maybe 5%. That's actually being generous because I believe in McDonough's ability to find talent. It's more likely to find a fringe rotation player than to find a starter like those three guys are. Something to keep in mind is that two of them were international prospects, so there's some more support for the "draft and stash" approach.
SS: Slim to none...If we're talking about a future starter or star player, like all of the players you mentioned above. If I were to pull a random number out of a hat, I'd give it a .01% chance. But that doesn't mean we can't find a solid contributor. The chances still aren't great, but if we do our homework, it is certainly possible.
DK: Next to nothing, if they take an American. The Americans are so heavily scouted these days that it's almost impossible to find a gem that late in the draft. Internationals are a better bet, if you're good at int'l scouting. And the Suns just hired a specialist on international scouting, so maybe that's the way they are going with this pick.
4. The odds are against the team finding a player that will stick in the NBA for years, but what is your confidence in this front office to make the most of this pick?
KH: Very confident. Be honest, raise your hand if you knew every player that the team has brought in the past week and half... waiting... waiting... Ok, I put my hand down. There might be an NBA player in there, so I believe the ground work was laid to make the best of this pick.
RP: I have good confidence in this front office to get the most value out of all the picks, including the 57th. However, the nature of a late second rounder is that there isn't much value, and it often tends to be more of a crapshoot at that point. So if they misfire on the 57th pick and miss out on a better player taken in the next three spots, I won't hold it against them, as long as they make the most out of the first rounders.
SS: Not sure. We really don't have much to go on yet, as this will be the first draft with all our new front office guys in the same room. Most of them have had success in one way or another on other teams, but can they pull together and form a successful brain trust here in Phoenix?
DK: Well, I have no idea really. The Celtics have not done much with late second-round picks over the years. They did take Lester Hudson with 57 four years ago, and Luke Harangody with 52 recently. But it's tough to find anyone with a good track record in the late second round.
JP: Most of us have been impressed with the new FO to this point, and I'm going to give McDonough and company the benefit of the doubt until they prove they deserve otherwise. The sheer amount of prospects the team has brought in certainly leads me to believe the team is doing its due diligence and will be able to make the most of the pick.
5. Should this pick play more games next season for the Phoenix Suns than Michael Beasley?
RP: If the goal is to tank for Wiggins, then no. If the goal is to induce less heart attacks in and increase the life expectancy of Suns fans, then yes.
SS: Ideally, yes because Beasley would be gone by the start of the season. However, with his contract, I don't know if that happens, so I'm going to say no.
DK: No, they should play exactly the same number of games for the Phoenix Suns: 0.
BONUS: Who would you love to see drafted in this spot?
SS: I mentioned this in my previous article on the 57th pick prospects as well, but I would like to see someone who can specialize in one area and do at least one thing really well, ala Ryan Kelly. I don't think there's much hope for an all-around player at 57, but there's always room on the roster for a guy who can come in off the bench, space the floor, and shoot threes at a relatively high percentage.
DK: A UofA kid like Solomon Hill or Grant Jarrett would be good to draft, if nothing more than to wake up the fan base a tiny bit. ASU's Carrick Felix will be gone before then, but if he's available then definitely take him.
JP: I'm going total homer on this and saying Gregory Echenique, the big man out of Creighton. The Suns are bringing Echenique in for a workout on Friday I believe. He's not going to score many points in the NBA, but he is a tremendous defender. He's incredibly strong at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, he's an immovable force in the post and is surprisingly nimble for a man of his size with the ability to step out and guard the pick-and-roll. He'd probably be the best defensive big man on the team from day one.
KH: Of course Jacob went homer... He wanted to say Doug McDermott, but he is still in school. Based on my preliminary thoughts on the 5th pick (Alex Len) and the 30th pick (shooting wing), I like the team going with another major need in athleticism on the perimeter with someone like James Ennis, Tahj Tate, or D.J. Stephens.
RP: Myck Kabongo is my favorite here (if he lasts that long). He's a quick, solid playmaker that needs to develop an NBA-level body and scoring game. Ryan Kelly is another option as a one-trick pony that can develop into a Steve Novak-type player that can spot some minutes every now and then.
Here we are, folks, just 11 days from the actual, real live 2013 NBA Draft!
To add a little intrigue to the waiting period, SBNation.com decided to have each blog participate in a FIRST ROUND MOCK DRAFT. The Draft was conducted via email, texting and whatever other communication technology each team wanted to use, over the course of 7 days, from June 3-10.
RidiculousUpside.com is posting a few picks per day, starting today, over the course of the week before the draft.
Each NBA blog picked a designated General Manager and most of them used their entire blogger core as their de facto Front Office.
The most fun part of the mock draft was the ability to execute trades with each other. As long as the trade involved at least one team's first round pick, any trade that fits in the salary cap would count. We also decided that trade "promises" could be made, to finalize the trade once the new league year began in early July, if that was necessary to complete the trade under the cap rules. These trades have been promised for years in real life, so why not in the blogosphere?
On the Bright Side, the whole writing staff participated in the selection and trades process. We got offers to consider, as well as proposing trades of our own. Just as I suspect is true in real life, some GMs were interested in making trades while others had no interest at all. And the longer the draft went, the more interested were the later teams in making a trade.
We didn't play parts, like in a movie, or draw straws on who was who in the Suns real front office.
But what did play out was quite similar to the Suns actual front office today:
Seth Pollack, NBA league manager for SBNation.com and former editor of the Suns blog, happened to play the part of Robert Sarver. He participated in trade and pick discussions and even proposed one trade to another team without consulting the rest of us! But overall, he let the day-to-day guys run the show, so props to Seth!
Jim Coughenour offered advice and suggestions but went out of his way to remind people that he wasn't a prospect talent evaluator. He weighed in more on trades and cap rules than anything else. Yep, sounds like Lon Babby to me too.
Kris Habbas, our resident NBA Draft Insider who scouts in real life all year long, played a part that I imagine mirrors John Treloar (Suns' Director of Player Personnel and draft guru) in real life. Kris ended up being the guy who offered the most insight on each prospect but did not participate much in trade discussions. When we couldn't decide on which prospect to draft, Kris often helped us break the tie by giving us an on-the-spot scouting report and recommendation.
Sean Sullivan acted as a scout on draft prospects and weighed in on trade suggestions and discussions. He was a jack of all trades that appears to mirror the contributions Ronnie Lester was hired to perform in real life for the Suns.
Jacob Padilla was also a scout and confidant for the GM, providing insight in all areas of the draft. Let's call him our very own Bubba Burrage, who remains a scout for the Suns after the front office shakeup. Jacob has been around BSotS for years and still provides great insight into the current team and where the team should be headed.
Brand new blogger Richard Parker played an active role in the discussions on all levels, from capology to data analysis to trade offers and prospect evaluation. He played a key role in many decisions, so let's call him our Pat Connelly (Suns new Asst. GM) - new to the scene but with a high level title.
That leaves one major role left, and I appointed myself the perfect guy to fill that role. Acting as the team's General Manager, the loudest voice in the room, I initiated and ended all discussions when the time came. I made all the final picks, good or bad. I was our Ryan McDonough.
The only problem is that I haven't watched a whole lot of anything on these prospects, while McD watches everything and has been watching and evaluating for years, I fully expect that I made dumb decisions (at least one that the rest of the FO disliked, that's for sure). But that's what happens when you put bloggers in charge of the draft: dumb decisions.
So I used as much input as I could handle from the guys, and I made the best decisions I felt I could make.
First up, I had to decide the course of action for the Suns this season.
My first issue was that the Suns were one of the oldest lottery teams in the league (second to Dallas), and yet the Suns collection of veterans had still only won 25 of 82 games. Let's not forget that. The Suns won only 25 games all season - the second worst winning percentage in the history of the franchise.
That winning percentage was consistent all season, with the first 41 games at 13-28 and the final 41 games at 12-29. In the first half, Gentry played the veterans the most minutes and enjoyed almost perfect health. The second half had Gortat missing most of the games, and O'Neal missing many. But otherwise, no more injuries. Stlll, the Suns nearly matched their first-half totals.
In short, this roster as constituted is "old" and unlikely to significantly improve to contender status with time. So, I decided it was time to shake things up with the draft.
First order of business: getting the best possible talent with the first selection.
Did we draft Alex Len? Or Ben McLemore? Or Victor Oladipo? Or someone else? Did we move up from 5? Did we drop down?
Coming later today, ridiculousupside.com will reveal the Suns' first pick in the MOCK 2013 NBA Draft. Once that pick is made, I will post my diary of how that pick came about.
My Dad and I don't always think the same way or appreciate the same things in life. We don't share the same political persuasions, and we're not the touchy-feely types who delve into each other's psyche or try to solve each other's problems.
Occasionally, our adult conversations get a little stilted. We want to talk to each other, but we often run out of common ground to share.
Luckily, sports bridge the gap. Somewhat.
I am into pro basketball, pro football and some college sports - mostly ASU. He's into golf, baseball and some college sports - mostly U of A. Where we can somewhat bridge the gap between us is the Phoenix Suns.
He was excited for me when I told him I got media passes to Suns games this past season. He called me when the Suns hired Jeff Hornacek, and when he heard Dan Majerle got a head coaching job somewhere. When all else fails, we can talk Suns.
My Dad was once an avid Phoenix Suns fan but burned out/swore off the team in late 90s. He began buying season tickets in the late 80s, after the rug scandal and after my sister and I were both off to college. Games were still at the Madhouse on McDowell - Veterans Memorial Coliseum. My Dad would go to every Suns home game and then often re-watch the game on his VCR late that night. He worked his schedule around Suns games. He went to the season ticket-holder events.
He lived and breathed the KJ/Chambers/Majerle/Hornacek teams. He lauded the acquisition of Charles Barkley, and proudly took his seat at the brand, spanking new America West Arena in 1992. Like the rest of the valley, he went nuts during the 1992-93 playoff run with the Chuckster and the two heartbreaking losses to Houston the seasons after that.
When the Suns went through a lull in the late 90s, my dad was done. He kept his tickets in his name, but sold them off each season to others. In decade+ since then, he's barely attended a game.
Other the other hand, I've stayed a loyal Suns fan the entire time. I knew every player on the team every season since the 80s. The best part of Christmas in 1996 was hearing the Suns had acquired Jason Kidd. My lord, Jason Kidd! The Suns would be reborn! Then Rex Chapman joined Kidd to light up the scoreboard with sweet jumpers. Then the Antonio McDyess scandal 1998. McDyess, acquired as the PF of the future from Denver, blew up the Suns grand plan when he returned to the Nuggets as a free agent once the 1999 lockout was over. I vividly remember accounts of the Suns sitting in a car outside Denver's arena, locked out, calling McDyess and his agent asking for a face-to-face before he signed with the Nugs. No dice.
Then the Suns hit that lull. Backcourt 2000 was a flame out. Kidd got into domestic trouble and was unceremoniously shipped to the Nets for Stephon Marbury. Marbury was good, but did not fit the team's mold. The Suns were just another basketball team, and fans started losing interest.
The Suns were reborn again in 2004, with Suns fever sweeping the valley. But even during the Nash run, my Dad didn't take his tickets back. Late in 2005, I hooked up with his friend (and buyer) and worked a deal to get 10 games a season. Until 2012, I went to 10-12 games a year. I watched the game-tying Raja Bell "3" from the corner to stay alive vs the Nuggets in 2006. I watched the Suns lose Game 5 without Amare and Diaw in 2007 against the Spurs.
My Dad is an all-or-nothing kind of guy. He dove in head-first for about ten years, starting with the Suns rebirth under KJ and Chambers and Hornacek and Majerle. The Suns were surprise team in the West, a scrappy underdog that found a way to win with the three-guard lineup that loved to shoot from deep. People love underdogs.
When I completely dove into the fray was in 2006, when the Suns were once again the scrappy underdog team who found a way to win with a great PG passing to shooters from all angles.
It was during this period that I took advantage of the Suns to develop a closer relationship with my wife's step Dad. He and my wife were in danger of drifting apart after the passing of her mom, his wife, to cancer in 2003. It happens. Human beings move on, and sometimes drift apart when your link to each other brings such painful memories.
Mutual love for the Suns helped me bridge that gap. We have shared that partial season of tickets for the past seven years, giving us a connection beyond family. His new wife is wonderful, and we still hang out together nearly every week.
My Dad flamed out after a decade of hard-core fandom, after the team was no longer that scrappy, lovable underdog. Maybe I'll end up the same, but so far my Suns fandom hasn't wavered. Even during the super-lull of the last couple of seasons, I've only become more hardened as a follower rather than backing away.
Yet I'm not quite ten years into my deep, deep head-first dive, so we'll see how the next few years go.
My kids are all girls, so I'm not sure I can pass off my Suns fandom to a new generation like my Dad did but we can all hope. There are female Suns diehards out there.
It would be nice to have that common ground on which to stand as we get older and draw apart. My kids are getting to that age when friends and jobs are more important than time with Dad. I am losing them the same way my parents lost me. I can't resent it, can't fight it. It's just the way of the world.
As I watch my kids fade away from me, as I realize the strength it takes to let them go, I have more appreciation than ever for my own parents. It's haaaaaaard to watch your kids develop their own lives, their own loves, their own allegiances. It's haaaaaard to remind oneself that they love you all the same. They need to spread their wings, and it's okay to do so without Mom and Dad helping with every decision.
At times, I find myself missing my kids even when they're right in front of me. Texting, tweeting, snapchatting, facebooking, instagramming. They are somewhere else even when they're not. Yet so am I. I carry my phone around just as much as they do. I'm following twitter, checking Bright Side and a dozen other sites, filling those gaps in conversations with my own favorite things. And I love my kids just the same, so I have to remember they do too.
I wonder how the rest of our lives will go, when or if any of the kids will turn out to be close to me or if they will all go their separate ways. I went my own separate way from my parents. Moved away to college, stayed away afterward, visited only a handful of times a year even in my twenties. It was only when I divorced a decade ago that I circled back to parents.
And now as I watch my kids fade as they reach and experience the college years, I have that much more appreciation for Dad and Mom. I call them more than ever (though still not enough). We keep in touch in many ways. I love my Dad and Mom. I have always loved them, whether I always showed it or not. They have made me the person I am, which I'm told is a pretty good one.
Maybe one of my kids will take up that Suns baton when my flame burns out. It would give us something to talk about when all other conversations fail. The further apart we get, the harder the conversation.
Maybe I'll just hold onto this baton for a while longer. Possibly a long while longer.
Tell me, Suns fans, how does sports link you to your Dad or your kids?