Former ASU standout Jahii Carson showed his best basketball to his hometown Phoenix Suns in a predraft workout that also contained big man (and Mark West lookalike) Patric Young.
The Phoenix Suns are going to see a lot of players in the next four weeks leading up to the Draft. Last year, they saw 60 players work out on their turf, doing their drills, seeing who would best fit the profile the Suns want.
"We try to do that at least initially to have two point guards, two wing players and two big men," 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."
Today, the Suns will follow that model again. Joining the big men will be first round prospect and muscleman Patric Young, while the guards will include ASU standout Jahii Carson.
Overview of the Workout
Patric Young made a name for himself by being the most chiseled guy on the court. In fact, he looks like a 22 year old Mark West just walked back in that door. Young will have many of the same characteristics that Mark West displayed for Hornacek's team in the late 80s/early 90s - rebounding, toughness and a great, great attitude.
"With my maturity and attitude and work ethic," he said. "I can bring good chemistry to a team. If they need someone to just come in an defend and rebound, I can be that guy."
This was Young's first workout, but he wasn't surprised by the drills. In fact, he recognized many of them from his Florida days.
"It's pretty similar to University of Florida," he said. "We're pretty high-paced as well. We did a three-on-three transition drill here that's something we do at Florida as well so I wasn't surprised with that. Everything else was... well, I'm not in a position to be very picky on what system I can fit in. So if I'm chosen here to go up and down I'm going to play that role the best I can."
Young is very well-spoken 22-year old kid who already recognizes his role as an NBA rookie - to fit in and provide whatever the coaches want him to provide.
Former ASU and local high school standout Jahii Carson measured out as the smallest player at the Draft Combine but he plays plenty big on the court. He mentioned Isaiah Thomas (the Sacramento kid) and Nate Robinson as guys he uses for confidence that his game will translate to the NBA level.
"I think I fit in pretty well," he said of the chance to get drafted by the Suns. "Hopefully they like me."
He says it "would be a dream come true" to be the "triple threat" of high school, college and pros in the same city. Channing Frye has come close, but went to high school in Phoenix (St. Mary's) and college in Tucson and wasn't originally drafted by the Suns out of University of Arizona.
Carson would provide the pure trifecta, but he knows he doesn't have an easy road to the NBA.
"My freshman year I couldn't shoot the basketball, so that was a flaw," he said of last year when he was projected to go in the first round. "Then this year I got my team to the NCAA tournament but I should have gone my freshman year. Everybody has speculation."
Carson says he's been told his draft range is in the 25-40 range, according to feedback he's gotten since the Combine, and that he has 10 more workouts already on his planner with another two still to be firmed up.
Doug McDermott ended his college career as the NCAA's fifth all-time leading scorer, putting up huge numbers with ridiculous efficiency throughout his four years at Creighton. How much of his game will translate?
McDermott is an elite, NBA-ready shooter who will be able to make an impact in that role from day one. He has great form, getting his feet set and squaring up with a quick and consistent release. He can shoot from everywhere on the floor, including deep NBA range already.
McDermott can get his shot off in a lot of ways: catch-and-shoot, off the dribble, coming off screens... He can do it all. He even developed a mid-range game as a junior and senior, including a Dirk Nowiztki-esque one-legged fadeaway. His percentages from two, three and the charity stripe are all ridiculous, and he maintained those percentages at a high volume and as the primary focus of every defensive game plan.
No matter what happens with the rest of his game, this is one area that will translate. Nik Stauskas is regarded as the premier sharpshooting wing in this class, and as the reports of workouts around the draft combine can attest, McDermott went shot for shot with Stauskas.
Seriously, read this piece by Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn on the shooters in this draft. McDermott scored almost two points per possession on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers. If he's open, that sucker is going in.
As good a shooter as McDermott is, he was primarily a post-up power forward in college. He has phenomenal touch around the basket and can use either hand to finish. He has an excellent feel for using the glass and can get the ball in and out of his hands as quickly as I've ever seen.
He has excellent footwork and an array of hook shots, up-and-unders, drop-steps, flip shots and scoops. He also likes the turnaround jumper, and uses the Nowitzki-shot in the post as well as from mid range. When the double comes, McDermott can also make the right pass, something he got better and better at throughout his career as he got plenty of practice at it.
The thing that made McDermott so good, though, was his motor. He never stopped moving, never stopped fighting for post position. He drew plenty of off-ball fouls simply due to his movement and effort. He runs the floor well and looks to get early post position.
McDermott is not going to be able to post-up in the NBA like he did in college. The players are bigger, stronger and more athletic. However, it is things like his ability to score in the post given the right match-ups that separate him from the other shooters in this draft.
McDermott is an incredibly skilled player with a high basketball IQ. He has a tremendous work ethic as well, and has both improved his skills and added things to his game every year.
He has a great feel for playing off the ball - working for position in the post, spotting up on the perimeter or running off of and reading screens to get open. He's effective on curls and cuts to the basket because of his touch and how quick he gets the ball into and out of his hands.
Once he gets into a zone there wasn't much college defenses could do to stop him - as his slew of 30 and even 40-point games (career-high of 45 on senior night) can attest to. He developed into a clutch player as a senior who wanted the ball in his hands in late-game situations, hitting a couple game-winners and go-ahead baskets late.
He has improved his handle and is much more comfortable dribbling, but he still has a long way to go. He doesn't have much in the way of advanced moves and can struggle to break down good defenders off the bounce.
In his own words, McDermott just has a natural feel for the game, and he's not even sure how he makes some of the shots he does. McDermott isn't just a shooter; he's a scorer. Though he won't be able to play exactly the way he did in college, he's skilled and smart enough to find a way to put the ball through the hoop; his nickname is Dougie McBuckets for a reason.
McDermott was a solid rebounder in college, but he didn't consistently clean the glass. There were games where he pulled down double-digits boards and there were games where he only ended up with three or four. He has good hands, good instincts and a good motor. He reads the ball well coming off the rim and has excellent touch on put-back attempts.
However, his size is an issue and he can get beat by bigger, stronger or more athletic opponents.
Overall, McDermott isn't going to be pulling down 10 boards per game. However, he works hard enough and his instincts are good enough to allow him to make an impact on the glass.
Defense is McDermott's biggest weakness, and it's due largely to his tweener size. He struggles to hold his ground against bigger players in the post and stay in front of quicker opponents on the perimeter. His block and steal numbers are almost nonexistent, although that is partly by design.
Creighton could not afford to have McDermott stuck on the bench with foul trouble, so he was coached to avoid reaching in or going for the block. Even so, his arm length is merely average and he doesn't have great instincts or timing for steals or blocks.
His physical limitations mean he won't ever be a true difference-maker on this end, but his lack of athleticism is overblown as his combine numbers have shown. In the interviews above, McDermott spoke about being able to be more aggressive defensively without having to worry about fouls so much. He appears to have slimmed down a bit for the combine, weighing in at 218 pounds, and that will help him transition to defending wings - something McDermott knows he has to do and is ready for as he said in the interviews above. McDermott could also play the four down the road in the right match-ups as he gets stronger under an NBA training regimen.
Individually he isn't great, but McDermott's IQ isn't restricted to offense. He's also a very smart defender who knows how to rotate and be in the right spot. His knowledge of the game means he should be able to fit into a team defense and play his role within that.
McDermott is a deadly offensive player who can score in a variety of ways from everywhere on the floor. He's a really smart player that will be able to pick up and fit into any system and can get his without demanding the ball be in his hands at all times. He proved himself against NBA competition at the Team USA camp, holding his own and was lauded as the best shooter in a gym full of pros.
Multiple sources said Creighton's Doug McDermott has blended in with the young NBA guys at Team USA Minicamp. "Has shot it extremely well."
He is a very high character player and an incredibly hard-worker. He wowed teams and analysts in interviews and is no stranger to being in front of a microphone (something that I've seen first hand in the three years that I've covered him).
If McDermott is put into the right situation, his strengths can be exploited and his weaknesses can be minimized - making him a true weapon.
Fit in Phoenix
McDermott would be tremendous in Hornacek's system as both a three and a small-ball four. His shooting would be deadly paired with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe's penetration, and his post game and off-ball work could be a second option with right match-ups. I see him initially fitting into Marcus Morris' role as a shooter and scorer off the bench and progressing from there.
It is true the Suns need more help on defense than they do on offense, but if Ryan McDonough has a chance to draft him he should do so. McDermott's ability to get buckets in an incredibly efficient way would both fit in well to Hornacek's run and shoot system and would allow Dragic and Bledsoe to do what they do best even more.
McDermott is mocked in the top 10 by most places, and I doubt he falls all the way to 14. But if he does, or the Suns have a chance to move up a few shots, he would look great in purple and orange.
Want to see your work on the cover of Bright Side whenever you write an article? Sign up! We need more writers on staff and you just might be the perfect person.
I have been so impressed with the fanposts lately. Some content on the fanposts is better than the content generated by us on the staff, and I don't hesitate to reward that work with a promotion to the cover of the site.
What's in it for YOU?
Well, you get the love and admiration of crazy Suns fans who devour your work. And if you're quite good, you might even be able to turn this work into a profession. At worst, it helps the resume.
Bright Side has seen a number of former writers move to fully paid jobs in the industry. Seth became a real-life overlord in Washington. Former editor Dan Hilton now works for the Suns in their digital analytics department. Other sites have had writers promoted right out of there into real work - Michael Schwartz and Mike Schmitz got full-time jobs based partially on their writing for Valley of the Suns. Many, many other writers have turned pro bono blogging into full-blown careers.
But most of us aren't in it for a career. We just do it for the fun of it. Most of us have a full time career/school "on the side" as well as family and maybe even school commitments.
Even if you don't want a career in basketball or writing, this is a great place to vent your thoughts. It's like a pressure-release valve. When I joined, it was because I had a lot to say about the Suns and needed somewhere to say it. Once I realized people actually wanted to read my work, I was hooked.
You are an active member of the Bright Side community
You are a huge fan of the Phoenix Suns
You spend more time than you should every day reading and commenting on Suns stories, especially those on Bright Side
You can write a complete sentence, and have an understanding of story-writing (beginning, middle, end)
You ask yourself at least once a week 'why isn't there a story on _______ out there?' and realize you have a lot to say about it
You get a kick out of fellow readers turning your comments purple
You take pride in the accuracy of your comments. You don't overstate things just to get a rise out of people. Instead, you sometimes even run a google search or two to confirm that what you're writing isn't completely wrong.
You don't get offended easily, when someone disagrees with you.
You refresh your twitter timeline at least 10 times a day
You execute google and twitter searches like 'suns trade', 'suns draft', 'phoenix suns news' more than once a day, so you don't miss anything
You come to Bright Side to talk about the latest news before we've had a chance to post the story
You write too-long comments because you have so much to say on many Suns subjects; often ending the comment with a 'tl;dr' summary
More wish list
I would love to get a furrener (sp?) on the staff who can report from across the globe. The great thing about the internet is that it brings the entire world together in one place. We have a number fans on here who can write better English than most Americans even though English is their second, third or fourth language.
What kind of help I need
I really need someone who will help report the latest Suns news in a very timely fashion. People come to Bright Side when they see a rumor or news item on the Suns, hoping to read our take on the news and talk about it with other Bright Siders. The sooner we can cover it with our own fresh take and opinions, the better.
This individual has to have a flexible schedule, so that they can take 20 minutes to post a Bright Side article within a couple hours of news breaking across the globe. We can follow up with in depth analysis the next day if need be, but having a quick post can be a huge boon to our readers.
Each Bright Side writer helps on a regular rotation - game coverage (in season), weekly feature (ie. Going Gorilla), prospect profiles (pre-draft), season previews and season recaps.
What kind of help I want
While I need, need, need the news reporting to keep the site current with latest news, what makes this community special is having a group of writers with a "voice" who can provide an informed opinion.
I really need people who care about what they write, and don't like to be proven wrong when they quote a fact. The people I need are those who would rather be correct than provocative.
Am I talking about you?
If you find yourself nodding, then hit me up to discuss a spot on the staff (email me). Generally, we start with a review of your fanposts. If you haven't done a fanpost, we may ask you to write one to show your talents there.
The commitment varies per person. For me, each article takes about 1-2 hours to research and write, unless you're really going for some deep analysis. Those can take longer. But I caution those who take a ton of time for any one article because generally you're not going to get any "eyes" on it than one written in less than an hour. Today's ADD reader (yes, I'm talking about you) only devotes so much time to one article.
Testimonials from the guys on staff
On why they decided to join the staff, despite no pay:
Sreekar: What sold me were the writers that were already on board (Dave, Jim Kris, Sean, Jacob, etc.) and the number of people that really engage with the content on a daily basis.
Mike Lisboa: It was finding a community that was as devoted to the Suns as I am. It was a place to take the fanaticism that even my friends who were Suns fans couldn't quite fathom. Frankly, it's an easy place to let my purple and orange freak flag fly. It was the chance to not only share my fandom, but the idea that in a like-minded community, it might actually have an impact somehow.
Kris Habbas: It was a great opportunity to work with the local team and have my work read by a rabid audience.
Sean (formerly 7footer): I joined way back in the day along side of "dahking" (Dave), when the Suns were still atop the Western Conference and we had our "Eyes on the Prize"! I loved reading the articles on BSOTS, and I often left lengthy comments. When I was approached to write, I couldn't turn it down.
Jim: I was asked several times about writing for the staff before I came on. The lure was being able to unleash my thoughts and opinions on a subject I'm deeply emotionally invested in (no, not being an asshole... the Phoenix Suns). Writing here has been a great creative outlet.
Favorite part of being a writer on BSotS:
Sreekar: My favorite part is knowing that my work will be read and received (whether positively or negatively) by a large, active and loyal community.
Mike: Game coverage. I like the focus that having a deadline brings to my viewership of a game. I like trying to tease out narratives of the "random number generator" that is an NBA game. That's really my favorite thing to do as a BSOTS writer.
Kris: Flexibility and freedom. Now, there is structure and guidelines, but those are sensible things that are easy to follow since we learned most of them in Kindergarten. The freedom comes from being able to write about an array of topics and what interests you.
Scott: My favorite part of being involved in the writing/community is that there's basically something for everyone. And if there's something you don't think is represented fairly then what a chance this is to bring your own interests to the forefront. Additionally for the most part the people writing are just like you - they also have day jobs that pay the bills and just have a passion for the Suns that they want to share. This also means people are pretty nice to each other and support each other when a post goes up - beyond certain fun people talking about how much of a waste of time your article was.
Sean: I'm a huge Suns fan and I have a background in writing (academically), so it's a nice change of pace for me to write content that is fun and entertaining for a change. I also love talking with other fans and the community of BSOTS. We have a great group!
On the time commitment per article:
Sreekar: Depends on the article. On original, numbers/research-heavy piece can take a few hours but most of the time, an hour or less.
Mike: 1-4 hours. I would love to spend more time sometimes, but I have to limit myself. My eyes are frequently too big for my writing stomach.
Kris: I like to research and have as much information as possible before diving in to any article, so the research may take a few hours with an hour or so to write the actual article. Sometimes longer, but overall they take in the neighborhood of 2-4 hours for an article. Maybe 30-45 minutes for news blurbs, and a full week to detox the Jim off me after a podcast.
Scott: I don't think I'd help much with recruitment since every time I write something it's painstakingly researched, 10 times as long as it needs to be, and written for basically me and Lisboa.
Sean: That depends. My favorites to write are definitely the scouting/draft articles, but those also take the longest to do right...sometimes as long as four or five hours. Other articles can be as short as an hour or two.
Jim: What made me take pause was the time investment. I don't know how much time other people spend on their feature articles, but I can sink 6-8 hours into a story without blinking. Sure, Player X wins award Y... or 2014-15 schedule is released only take an hour or so to throw up, but a lot of my articles require research, include graphs and tables, etc. that makes them more laborious.
Not scared off yet?
Then let me know. It's got be a voluntary thing. But if you have someone in the community you want to nominate, feel free to put that in the comments. Maybe others feel the same way and will support the nomination.
To get started, you need to write a Fanpost to demonstrate your writing ability. If that's well done, we can discuss giving you the byline to stardom.
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.