Tonight, the Phoenix Suns try to get lucky and move up in the draft for the first time since 1987. There are two ways to move up - via the lottery system, or via trade. The Suns have benefited from the lottery system only once (1987, Armen Gilliam) and have rarely drafted higher than their record-based slot.
The Suns did acquire Atlanta's future #1 pick in 2005, which finally conveyed to Phoenix in 2008 as 15th overall (Robin Lopez). But they have never made a draft-day trade to move up to get a player they liked.
Other than those three times, the Suns stayed right where they were to take the best player.
The Suns have the 4th-highest chance to move up to the top-3 pick tonight - nearly 33% overall.
Their chance to get #1 overall: 11.9%
Chance for #2: 12.2%
Chance for #3: 13.3%
Lon Babby will represent the Suns tonight in the lotto room.
"My grandson (Josh) is playing on a T-Ball team at age 4 so he's got a little baseball card. I got him to sign it for me so he wrote his name on it. I'll have it in my pocket," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said to Arizonasports.com.
"I don't know if he's good luck, but I always like having his picture with me, anyway. That will be my good luck charm."
So, no personal superstitions?
"I didn't say that. Everybody is superstitious," he said. "I used to have a lucky pair of pants that I wore for every exam in college. The trouble is they don't fit anymore.
"The other thing is," Babby continued, "I'm going to stay as close as I can to (Orlando Magic senior vice president) Pat Williams because he's won it four times (with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1986 and the Magic in 1992, 1994 and 2004). I'm going to see if I can touch him a couple of times just to get some good luck."
On the opposite end of the move-up spectrum, the Suns have traded away at least one first round pick a whopping ELEVEN times (1990, 1991, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012) in the last 26 years, since Gilliam was drafted in 1987. The 2008 and 2012 picks were "second" picks, later in the first round. But still. Gulp.
Since the draft lottery came to fruition in time for the 1985 draft, the Suns have been bad enough to get ping pong balls ten times, including this year (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013).
While the Suns have never drafted #1 overall in their existence, twice the Suns have drafted as high as #2 overall. The first time, they lost out on Lew Alcindor on a coin flip (settling for Neal Walk at #2 overall).
The second time, the Suns moved up to second overall in the 1987 lottery. The Suns lost out on David Robinson, instead taking Armen Gilliam #2 overall in 1987.
No matter what happens tonight, the Suns will draft no worse than 7th overall. This guarantees the Suns their highest selection since Tim Perry in 1988 - 25 years ago.
Other top-7 picks - besides Walk and Gilliam - include Corky Calhoun (4th, 1972), John Shumate (4th, 1974), Alvan Adams (4th, 1975), Walter Davis (5th, 1978), William Bedford (6th, 1986), Tim Perry (7th, 1988).
The lottery drama begins at 5:30pm AZ Time on ESPN, with picks revealed in inverse order. Start paying attention immediately. The Suns begin in 4th position overall. If a later team jumps ahead of the Suns, then the Suns will drop to as low as 7th unless they too win a higher spot.
First, let me qualify the rest of this review by disclosing that not much was expected from Haddadi. Hamed was a throw in for a trade that sent Sebastian Telfair to the Toronto Raptors for a second round draft pick. The only reason he played as many minutes as he did, which wasn't many, was due to injuries and leaves of absence to players above him on the depth chart.
I just felt it was somewhat obligatory to preface the rest of this scathing analysis by offering that Hamed's bar was pretty low. Somehow he still managed to crawl under it.
Judging Haddadi based on improvement
As the chart depicts, Haddadi regressed quite declivitously from the 2011-12 season. As I mentioned previously, Hamed just turned 28... which made him 27 during the recently concluded
bloodbath campaign. The fact that a player at that age bottomed out in that fashion is... unsettling. Is it possible that Haddadi could regain his previous form? Quite possible. Does it suggest that scenario is the best possible case moving forward? Quite possibly.
Just because his numbers were worse nearly across the board isn't completely condemning in and of itself, though. Haddadi could have been coming off a
less futile career year. Or not.
While Hamed's numbers in 2011-12 were gaudy compared to other seasons, his performance last season was well below his career averages. Also note that many of those career numbers were drug down by his miserable "contribution" in 2012-13. For instance, Haddadi's career points per 36 for his first four seasons was 12.5, but after five years it has dipped to 11.6. His recent numbers were detrimental to his career averages in many ways.
It is basically unarguable that Haddadi showed significant decline, not improvement.
Judging Haddadi compared to the Suns' other centers
This comparison is probably unfair considering that both of the other two players have significantly better pedigree than Hamed. One is a former multiple time all-star selection and the other is a solid starting center. Hamed, on the other hand, is a career
bench warmer backup.
Obviously those two preponderate Haddadi's less than stellar numbers. To further illustrate this dynamic, he wouldn't even have seen the limited minutes he did if it weren't for unfortunate circumstances. Ironically, I can vaguely remember some whispers that the Suns wouldn't even miss Gortat when he went down to injury. Then Haddadi made a solid contribution in two straight games, including being a major cog in a win against the Rockets. That game was the highlight of Hamed's time as a Sun. Pretty much the only highlight.
The Suns finished the season 4-17 after Gortat's injury. Even worse, they went 2-14 in games Haddadi appeared in.
Judging Haddadi re: Memphis vs. Phoenix
Finally an area where Hamed
is less putrid shines... and by shines I mean is still well below most of his career averages. It's kind of like going from living in a tent to sleeping in a box to taking refuge under a bridge. Sure the bridge looks good compared to the box, and Hamed is a serviceable troll, but the whole situation kind of sucks. Do I come off as being too captious? Well, that's how I roll.
Still, he did increase his production, so give credit where credit is due (just not too much).
Overall Grade: D-
I was going to give Haddadi another grade based on physical appearance, but that just seemed cruel. Haddadi falls somewhere between journeyman and bench towel in terms of his NBA career. He will most likely bounce around for a couple years because of his size despite his glaring lack of basketball skills. I just hope it isn't for the Suns. Even if Channing Frye doesn't come back, Jermaine O'Neal leaves in free agency and Marcin Gortat is traded I still wouldn't want Haddadi as a third string center behind two rookies. His full potential has already been realized, and it makes Markieff Morris look like a gamechanger.
I would rather take a 22 year old big from the D-League on the Powerball-like chance he actually turns into a legitimate NBA player than keep Haddadi around. Buy out his $200,000 and send him on his way. The Suns don't need anymore middle-aged (in terms of NBA years) players with no futures. We've already had enough of that.