Many people believe the Phoenix Suns have the worst collection of talent in the NBA. And with only Kendall Marshall and (now) #5 overall pick Victor Oladipo under 24 years old when next season starts, the potential development of the team to elite status as currently constructed is next to nil.

The league's second-oldest lottery team (Dallas was older) returns as many as 11 guaranteed contracts from last season's worst-in-the-West squad (if you count Shannon Brown and P.J. Tucker). After Marshall and Oladipo, only Michael Beasley, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are as young as 24. The rest of the squad is older than that.

The Plan

That's why, as the mock-Suns acting General Manager, I decided to shake up the roster as much as possible in the 2013 NBA Draft. Frankly, while the Draft is considered "weak", the top 10-15 players are still more talented and possess brighter futures than most anyone on the Suns' current roster.

Once the mock draft rules were in place and the doors opened for business, I worked feverishly to acquire up to two more lottery picks to send out there with Victor Oladipo.

I wanted a pivot man AND another shooter/scorer before the 13th pick was announced. And I wanted to use two of the Suns best players, Jared Dudley (28 next season) and Marcin Gortat (29 next season), as the bait.

My thinking was that Dudley and Gortat couldn't help the team win more than 25 games, so how much worse could it get if they were each replaced with one or more younger players? Plus, getting younger would help the Suns acquire a good player or two in the much stronger 2014 draft as well.

There is no quick fix in the NBA, so it's completely unrealistic to imagine the Suns being completely made over in one summer AND still have Gortat and Dudley in the rotation. With Gortat expiring in a year, potentially leaving with no compensation whatsoever, and Dudley at the peak of his trade value, it was time to strike.

Marcin Gortat

As soon as the bell sounded, the Portland mock-GM emailed me the offer everyone's been talking about on the interwebs. It's an offer I would not be surprised to see in real life too: Marcin Gortat for the #10 and Joel Freeland.

I wanted to use this #10 pick on the next best available pure center on the board - the one with the highest upside regardless of the time it would take to develop him.

For a while, I tried to replace Freeland with Myers Leonard, but even I was lukewarm on that given that the center the Suns would draft at 10 would likely be better than Leonard, while Leonard might stunt our rookie's growth. It's not really a good idea to have two guys who need the same amount of development playing the same exact position. Plus, the Suns would need a veteran stop-gap center to play minutes too, leaving either Leonard or the rookie on the end of the bench. Other than Leonard, Portland didn't have much to offer in place of Freeland, since half their roster would be free agents in a matter of days.

We spit-shook on the trade, giving each other an out: as long as Portland didn't use the #10 in a trade to move up, and as long as the Suns hadn't found a better trade for Gortat and as long as the Suns saw someone on the draft board they liked.

Before the Suns took Oladipo at 5, I engaged OKC on Gortat for #12. They needed an upgrade on Kendrick Perkins, and the Suns had a big hole at shooting guard. We were both willing to discuss Gortat for Perkins and the #12, straight up. The Suns would be eating about $12 million in salary over two years, so I had to decide if the #12 was worth that much sunk cost.

But then I got the Portland offer - a better pick and lesser salary in return for Gortat. In order to add Jeremy Lamb to the pot, we briefly discussed adding Lamb and Dudley to the trade.

That would have returned Jeremy Lamb, #12 pick and a $10 million salary hit for two seasons in exchange for Gortat and Dudley.

Tick tock. Teams on the clock. Portland offer (#10 and Joel Freeland) in the pocket. With the #10 or #12, I would want to get the best remaining center on the board.

Jared Dudley

Let's see what I can get for Dudley on his own. If I could trade Dudley for something equivalent to, or better than, Jeremy Lamb then I could tell OKC to take a hike. I really didn't want to eat Perkins 2-yr, $20 million contract.

I tried to engage Sacramento at #7 for Dudley, but got a quick "no thanks". I was surprised, considering Sacramento really needed a solid veteran like Dudley to supplement an already-young core, but wasn't going to squeeze too hard trying to get blood from a stone. Moving on.

Two hot options for Dudley were #8 (Detroit) and #9 (Minnesota). At 8 or 9, we could grab C.J. McCollum to play combo guard between Oladipo and Dragic. Hornacek loved his three-guard lineup in the late 80s with the Suns, and MCollum's presence would provide the Suns the secondary scorer they so badly need while allowing Oladipo to play the Tucker/Sefolosha role as defender and spot-up shooter for kick-outs.

Detroit needed a steady presence for their young squad, so Dudley was a draw for them. They also were struggling with too many combo guards and not enough pure playmaking to take advantage of their big men, so Kendall Marshall was an interesting option for them too.

As it stood going into their pick, Detroit was holding firm wanting too much back for the #9 and a combo guard, who would have just duplicated McCollum and potentially stunted his growth. The other shooting guards in the draft (KCP, Shabazz) besides McCollum would have stunted Oladipo's growth, in my opinion. We needed a playmaking combo guard who could spell Dragic and provide scoring in the second unit while playing alongside Oladipo.

Minnesota was another option for the Suns with the #9 pick in exchange for Dudley. But Minnesota played hard ball, wanting a lopsided trade in their favor that made it unpalatable. They wanted the Suns to take back a long-term contract, plus too many draft considerations, really diluting the value of the #9 pick. Plus, I wanted McCollum at that pick.

Would either MInnesota or Detroit cave, in time for the Suns to end up with McCollum for Dudley?

Would the Suns take Portland's offer of #10 and Freeland for Gortat? Or would we find a better deal?

Tick. Tock. #7 on the clock. #8 through #12 coming up soon.


It sounds perfectly easy, or lazy, or both, for the Phoenix Suns to have selected Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo in the SB Nation Mock Draft after Noel, McLemore, Porter and Len had been taken 1-4. Oladipo was (and is) clearly one of the five best talents in the 2013 NBA Draft.

But nothing is that easy, nor should it be.

We kicked off our Mock Draft on a Sunday night, with Cleveland on the clock. Each pick would be given 24 hours maximum so teams could consider trades and consult with their "front offices."

While waiting for the Suns pick at No. 5, I received a couple of offers to trade down but declined them immediately. The Suns needed the best possible talent they could acquire, and trading down from a top-5 pick wasn't going to get it done.

I went into the draft determined to get the Suns a wing player. Specifically, I wanted either Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo with the first Suns pick. My assumption was that C Nerlens Noel (or Alex Len) was going Np. 1 to Cleveland and that SF Otto Porter was going No. 3 to Washington. Neither team needed a two-guard, since they'd just drafted two-guards a year ago at 3rd and 4th overall.

That left two slots (No. 2 Orlando, No. 4 Charlotte) ahead of the Suns into which those two favorites could easily slip and be gone by the time the Suns were on the clock.

So I got scrambling. I am not one to sit idly by with crossed fingers.

I explored trading up from No. 5. I first talked with Orlando for the No. 2 pick, but Orlando wanted me to take back long-term salary just for the right to jump three spots. I thought about it and posed the question to the "front office." Did we really think buying a guarantee of McLemore or Oladipo was worth an additional several million in salary for years (the cost of a higher pick, plus the cost of a veteran)? One of them might fall to us anyway.

Barring trades, Charlotte (No. 4) was the wild card. Orlando would take one of Oladipo or McLemore. As mentioned before, Cleveland and Washington were not a threat. But what about Charlotte? Would they take a wing, or a big (Bennett or Len)?

Considering that Oladipo/McLemore would just duplicate Charlotte's restricted free agent Gerald Henderson, I concluded that Charlotte was better off taking a big. The Bobcats had to get better in this draft, and the only way to do that was to add a big and re-sign Henderson.

Another consideration was whether Cleveland (No. 1), Washington (No. 3) or Charlotte would trade out to a team that really needed a wing, resulting in both McLemore and Oladipo being taken before the Suns pick.

That was always a possibility, but I gave the other GMs the same logic I used for myself - none of them would trade out of the top 5 this season. If anything, they'd only jockey amongst themselves for positioning. The lower teams woudn't offer enough talent to justify dropping into the lower lotto picks.

So, we declined the Orlando offer and stuck to our guns. Oladipo or McLemore would drop. And if they didn't, I liked C Alex Len, PF Anthony Bennett and SG C.J. McCollum enough to be the consolation prize. I'd try to trade down a couple spots if it got me another asset.

Ultimately, the draft went clean. No trades. Cleveland, Orlando and Washington all drafted according to form. When Charlotte took Len, Victor Oladipo was all ours.

Now, the fun starts.

It's time to pair Oladipo with another lottery pick or two...


The entire SB Nation network ran a mock draft, with each lead blogger acting as his team's General Manager. Check out the diary for Phoenix Suns blog to see how much was involved in shaping the next year's Suns.

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.

The Skinny

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?

The Front Office

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.

The Plan

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.

Watch ridiculousupside.com all week for who picked who, who traded who and how it all affected the Phoenix Suns.

PHOENIX – “I’m focusing on mainly the defensive side of the ball, rebounding and blocking shots. I feel like that’s what I’m going to be getting my minutes for in my first chapter of the NBA. That’s...

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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.

3. Over the years players like Isaiah Thomas (60), Marcin Gortat (57), and Manu Ginobili (57) have been drafted at No. 57 or later - Odds the Suns find a gem late are...?

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.

JP: Yes.

KH: Yes.

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.

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