Mississippi State big man Arnett Moultrie visited the Phoenix Suns on Sunday for the second time in a week. Clearly, he impressed the Phoenix brass with his skills amongst last Saturday's big man group that included lottery talents John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Meyers Leonard and Perry Jones.
So who the heck is Arnett Moultrie?
Let's hear it from Mike Schmitz, who writes for valleyofthesuns.com and does pre-draft scouting videos for Draftexpress.com:
"Moultrie has the skills of a guard yet the size of a big man. He's one of the most unique players in the draft in that he's a freak athlete with good skills and has yet to scratch the surface of his potential even after transferring from UTEP and making the rounds in the collegiate circuit.
"The difference between Moultrie and (Perry) Jones is that he has a good motor and crashes the glass hard. He can also stretch it to three-point range where he's steadily improving. He's been slotted in the mid-teens and the Suns could get a steal if Moultrie's skills translate as planned to the NBA."
Kris Habbas, who writes for SBNation AZ and nbadraftinsider.com, adds this about Moultrie: "Moultrie is the steal of the draft at this point to me."
At the moment, Moultrie is under heavy consideration in Detroit at #9, so he may be gone by the time the Suns pick. He has visited several other teams in the top 10 as well and just like with the Suns, he has impressed in workouts thanks to his unique physical skills and unbridled self-confidence.
Moultrie can rebound the heck out of the ball, on both the offensive end and the defensive end. Let's hear it from Moultrie's coach in Schmitz's scouting video, referring to the big man who led the SEC in rebounding this past year: "One thing you can hang your hat on is that he's an NBA rebounder today. You don't lead this league in rebounding (at 10.5, beating out Anthony Davis among others) if that's something you can't do."
What does Moultrie himself think he can provide as a rookie? "Right away, just being a big man, running the floor, rebounding the basketball and bringing the energy I have every night."
Great, so he's a freak athlete who can rebound. But can he score? The Suns need a scorer down on the blocks.
Offensively, Moultrie is very versatile but not great in any one area. Can score on isolations (post ups, face up and drive or shoot) and shoot mid to long range. The biggest percentage of his scoring comes on cuts to the basket at more than 20% of shots - which he makes more than 81% of the time. Very good scoring at the rim; can score with either hand and in traffic. "He's the whole package," says his coach.
Defensively, aside from rebounding? For his part, Moultrie has great confidence in himself on the defensive end: "I'm a good defender. I'm a smart defender. I can guard three positions, three through five."
On film, he is a very good on-the-ball defender - allowing only 16% shooting in those situations. But his help defense is nonexistent - which won't show up in workouts. There are also some questions on his consistency (on/off switch) and general basketball IQ. And for some reason, he has never averaged more than one block per game despite his length and agility.
But the biggest potential concern? Character. He is already on his second NBA agent, on his second college team, and his body language is really bad when he's ignored on the court (walking around, head hung, stops fighting for ball). Even threw his last team under the bus during 5-game losing streak, admitting he hadn't said anything to them before unloading on them in the media. Immaturity? Sure. But certain to go away when making millions a year? Not likely.
Kris Habbas has a more forgiving take on Moultrie's character questions, based on facts more than conjecture: "He was not highly recruited so started at Texas El-Paso. He had to try and co-exist with Renardo Sidney and an incompetent head coach. I agree he has some maturity to go through as does any 21 year old. He will be 22 in the first month or so of the season and the team he lands on will determine his development. If he lands on an incompetent team he will struggle.
"Falling in the draft will be a blessing in disguise for Moultrie's career."
Moultrie has as much talent as any big man after Anthony Davis in this draft, yet he's rated only in the teens by guys who talk to GMs on a daily basis. He is a boom (Jermaine O'Neal, Kris Humphries) or bust (Jason Thompson) player in the true sense of the word.
"I'm definitely the sleeper of the draft," Moultrie said in a recent interview. "But that's fine, they can sleep on me. I've been a sleeper all my life."
Take some time to watch this incredible scouting report on Moultrie, which contributed to much of this story today:
And then watch his draft combine interview, explaining how he did not throw his teammates under any buses:
Boom or bust, with this guy. Boom or bust.
We are one week from free agency. At midnight June 30, all player contracts for the 2011-12 season expire and those players not under contract for the 2012-13 season become free agents. At that moment, and not a moment before, teams can officially begin courting those free agents to sign with their team.
The lucky ones get a call that night, and the truly fortunate get more than one. Often those calls are simply "hey, we love you and want you here. Give us a chance to top any competitor", rather than a solid contract offer, because you never want to outbid yourself. And you might want to call all of your Plan A, B and C candidates just to lodge interest.
The Suns are reportedly interested in four of the top 5 unrestricted free agents this summer, per this recent ranking of the Top 20 unrestricted free agents: PGs Deron Williams, Goran Dragic and Steve Nash, as well as PF Ersan Ilyasova. Of course, another 10-20 teams are interested in those same players to varying degrees, so their agents will be busy on the night of July 1.
Certainly, they don't want to sign all four of those players, who will likely be paid $45 million in 2012-13 between them. But the Suns will want all of them to know of their interest. Reportedly, Deron Williams' agent will say "thanks but no thanks", while the others will say "thanks, and we'll get back to you soon".
Interest in Ilyasova likely depends on the draft (picks and/or trades), while interest in the three point guards is hierarchical. But they will still make all of these players aware of their interest.
Most likely, the order of these players' commitments to new teams will be: Williams first, Nash second, Dragic third. And all three players know this, whether they like it or not. If the Mavericks lose out on Williams, they will likely turn to Nash. If the Suns lose out on Nash, they will likely turn to Dragic. (and then, if all else fails, reportedly to Raymond Felton via multiple outlets...ugh...).
Interest in shooting guards, like the Ilyasova situation, likely depends on the draft as well. If the Suns come away from the draft without a new SG, then Paul Coro mentions Nick Young and the possibility of interest in Eric Gordon, while John Gambodoro mentioned Randy Foye and OJ Mayo (restricted) as potential Suns targets. Shannon Brown is out there as well, loves the Suns and would love to come back. Signing any of these guys in the first week of July would be a mistake because the first week is seller's market (high salaries). Agreeing later in July could mean a significant savings.
Free agents NOT mentioned yet, and I'm really glad: Jamal Crawford (too old and one-dimensional), Ryan Andersen (no better than Frye), Michael Beasley (headcase), Jason Terry (old, but small), and Lou Williams (young, but small)
Reading Babby's comments leads me to the following conclusions:
The draft starts it all off on Thursday, then whatever the Suns don't get on June 28 they will try to fill on July 1 and later.
As Babby says to Coro for the azcentral.com: "The overall goal is to begin the process of returning to elite status and add talent and add people to infuse youth into the team," Babby said. "There is no limitation in resources available to us to improve the team. There are no artificial restraints other than the rules and good judgment.
"We are prepared to be very active with the players who are our targets. I have complete confidence that we'll be an attractive destination for them."
Git er done!
With the NBA Draft fast approaching on June 28th, we at Bright Side of the Sun want to cover all the bases regarding the possible players who the Phoenix Suns could draft with the #13th pick.
General Manager Lance Blanks has expressed his high opinion of this year's wing crop, and the Suns certainly do need help on the perimeter. However, there might also be spot opening in the frontcourt as reserve center Robin Lopez is a restricted free agent and is not guaranteed to return. With the recently reported lottery promises to shooting guards Dion Waiters and Austin Rivers, there is a very good chance a top ten caliber big men will be available for the Suns at 13.
Today's draft coverage focuses on one of those big men that could slide to the Suns: power forward Jared Sullinger of the Ohio State University Buckeyes.
Sullinger was a top-flight recruit coming out of high school who lived up to the hype as a freshman at Ohio State, posting a double-double and leading the Buckeyes to a 34-3 record and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. If Sullinger had decided to enter the NBA Draft after that one year, he likely would have been taken in the top 5.
Instead, Sullinger returned to the Buckeyes, put up similar stats and led the team on another Sweet Sixteen run. Sullinger showcased the same toughness and strength that made him a force on the block, but he also showed expanded range on his jump shot.
So then why could Sullinger be available for the Suns at 13? Make the jump to find out.So who is Jared Sullinger?
|2010-11||Ohio State||Big Ten||37||31.7||6.0||11.1||.541||0.1||0.3||.250||5.1||7.2||.704||10.2||1.2||1.0||0.5||1.6||2.4||17.2|
|2011-12||Ohio State||Big Ten||37||30.4||6.2||11.9||.519||0.4||1.1||.400||4.7||6.2||.768||9.2||1.2||1.2||1.1||1.9||2.9||17.5|
|2010-11||Ohio State||Big Ten||37||1172||30.3||.591||.545||14.1||26.0||20.1||7.4||2.0||2.0||9.9||27.0||126.0||89.6||3.9||4.2||8.2|
|2011-12||Ohio State||Big Ten||37||1123||30.2||.591||.538||12.4||23.9||18.2||8.6||2.3||4.0||11.5||27.9||121.8||85.8||4.1||5.2||9.3|
Sullinger is a beast on the block and a monster on the boards. At 6-foot-9, Sullinger has a wide, strong base and the knowledge to use it to his advantage. His entire game is based on positioning. He has a Kevin Love-like knack for being in the right place at the right time when a shot goes up, and uses his body very well to secure the rebound.
Sullinger is more polished in the post than most college big men, which is what makes him so tough to defend. He has excellent footwork and a soft touch around the basket. He's a bruiser who loves contact and has the strength to finish through it. He has the ability to establish deep post position, and is tough to stop when he gets that close to the basket. If he can continue to refine his game and add another move or two to his arsenal he'll be an excellent offensive option.
Sullinger complements his blossoming post game with an improving outside shot. He has a nice stroke from mid-range and shoots free throws at a good rate for a big man. This season Sullinger even extended his range to the college 3-point arc, hitting 40 percent of his attempts from deep on the year. He also shows a little bit of a face-up game, which allows him to be effective both from the low and high post.
While he's not a point-forward by any stretch of the imagination, he is a willing passer who will kick it out of double-teams, which often results in hockey assists and open shots for other teammates. He also improved as a defender in his second year and is a solid positional post defender.
Sullinger's biggest problem heading into the NBA is that he's not overly athletic, nor is he very tall for an NBA big. Short, earth-bound and slow-footed is not a good combination. The results of his athletic test were very poor at the combine. He was the slowest of all the power forwards that participated, and his max vertical leap was fourth to last at just 31 inches. He also did poorly in the bench press with only 9 reps, tied for second worst. His conditioning is not the greatest either, as even though he lost about ten pounds between his freshman and sophomore year his body fat percentage is still high at 10.7%.
We saw a glimpse of what might happen to him in the NBA when he played against college teams with more length in the froncourt. For example, he went just 5-19 with 13 points against Kansas and their 7-footer Jeff Withey. He gets his shot blocked far too often around the basket. And there are times where he just throws himself into the defense hoping for a foul call or that the shot would go in. He needs to play under control more and make smart decisions around the basket. Sullinger will have to prove he can still be effective when he's not playing against guys his size or smaller. His lack of athleticism also hurts him on defense, as he's not going to be much of a rim protector.
But even more troubling is that his back was medically red-flagged by doctors at the combine. Sullinger missed some time as a sophomore due to back problems, and this latest development could scare some teams off.
Sullinger isn't the prototypical big man that we have seen succeed in Phoenix's system. While his jumper is improving, he's much more of an inside threat than a stretch four. Plus, with the drafting of Markieff Morris last season and the wholes in other areas, a power forward may not hold as much value for the Suns in this draft.
However, he's a darn good player and based on talent alone should be gone long before the Suns pick. Should the Suns' trainers sign off on Sullinger's back, the Suns should take a long look at drafting him at 13 if he falls.
Maybe this Q & A session with Slam Online is your preferred fare, we have quite the extensive menu to satisfy the most discriminating palates... Check it out for more on soccer, Amare's engagement, and the 2010 Western Conference Finals.
Still need more Nash news? How about this juicy rumor:
An SI.com report suggests Nash may have pared down his list of potential destinations and lists them as follows:
"I heard from national-media types from around the U.S., and at least one prominent agent as well, that believe that Steve Nash has a short list," Smith said. "From what I have heard from these people, and they could be wrong, but these are coming from some pretty legitimate sources, it is a three-team race for Steve Nash in free agency: Portland, Phoenix and Toronto."
Still looking to fill your daily allowance of Nash related topics?
Look at all the contenders in each conference... They have a primetime All-Star caliber PG already. I said before the season that other than Portland, Atlanta, and Indiana there are no "playoff" teams that need Nash. Two years ago it was different.
That is my two cents.
Habbas also offered this relative to Toronto's situation:
They can let Bayless go and bring in Nash, their No. 8 pick, and Jonas (Valanciunas) next year.
Not only could the Raptors do that, but with their auspicious cap situation they might even have enough left to bring in another free agent. Maybe that doesn't sound so bad compared to Phoenix after all....
Hopefully this will help take the edge off, Nash withdrawals are no laughing matter.