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As last year's winner I would like to pass the baton to another great champion. I was basically an abject failure in defending my crown, but repeating can be hard. Especially without a Chris Bosh to score zero points in a series clincher.

Thanks again to everybody for participating. Here are the final standings:

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Before you dive head first off the deep end of a shallow pool or throw your computer out the window, remind yourself that the Celtics (from whose front office the Phoenix Suns pilfered draft help) have not overdrafted and kept any significant players in the past decade.

Granted, they have been drafting recently in the bottom of the first round. This allowed them to be opportunistic in their draft selections, waiting for players to drop. But at least they didn't overdraft.

On Thursday, the Phoenix Suns will be on the clock at the #5 position with four players off the board. Which four players is a complete mystery.

"There's no player or subset of players, even at five, that I can put aside and say, ‘OK, this guy or these guys definitely won't be there. I don't need to worry about them,' " Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said yesterday after another draft workout. "I feel like, even at five, we need to be prepared for every scenario, like every guy on the board could be there."

The most common, logical rumors have the Cavaliers taking a big man (Nerlens Noel or Alex Len), the Orlando Magic taking a shooting guard (Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore), the Washington Wizards taking a small forward (Otto Porter has refused to even visit anyone below the Wizards pick) and the Charlotte Bobcats taking a big man (whichever of Noel or Len is available, or PF Anthony Bennett).

But that doesn't mean it will happen that way. With trades and smokescreens, the NBA Draft has always been a crapshoot and this year is crappier than most.

According to ESPN's Draft Tiers, not one player in this draft is a shoe-in to make an All-Star team. Some could make it someday, but none are projected as sure-fire All-Stars.

At the third tier, projected long-term NBA starters, there are "the six" mentioned above. By process of elimination, the Suns will be able to choose from among two of those six.

None of those top six are point guards. So why even bother worrying about whether the Suns would take a point guard at #5 overall?

Because Ryan McDonough has hinted all month that the pool of best players at #5 is wider than six. At the start of the month, he said he was looking at 10-12 players for that 5th spot. The other day, he had narrowed it down to "6, or 8, or 10".

The Suns held a point-guard heavy workout earlier this month in which Trey Burke worked out alone, while Michael Carter-Williams, Shane Larkin and C.J. McCollum dogged it out in the group workout. All but Larkin are projected to be drafted in the lottery, with a high chance that Burke (Pelicans), MCW (Kings) and McCollum (Pistons) are even gone by the 8th selection.

Remember, McDonough has said his draft pool as #5 is as big as "6, or 8, or 10".

Paul Coro of azcentral.com/sports, who only reports based on intel he's received rather than conjecture like I do, wrote yesterday/this morning:

If the Suns draft one of those players or perhaps a point guard surprise like Lehigh's C.J. McCollum or Michigan's Trey Burke, the choice likely will be more of a building block than a blockbuster in the rebuilding work.

...

The Suns will take a best-player-available approach into this year's draft, not even ruling out a point-guard selection with Goran Dragic under a long-term deal and Kendall Marshall and Diante Garrett coming off rookie seasons.

See how he just innocuously slipped that in there?

Last week, radio host John Gambodoro (plugged into the Suns front office at the highest levels) tweeted that the Suns love Michael Carter-Williams.

That's how teams prep their fans for a surprise. They sprinkle out an unattributed rumor in a good light through the beat reporters. Then later in the week it becomes something more substantial, but by that time the fans have had time to digest the idea. By draft day, it's even more clear.

Yet this rumor of maybe a point guard pick could all be just that: Rumor. Smokescreening.

Why would the Suns pass up two of the conventionally-listed "top six" just to duplicate the only position that is passably covered for the next three years?

Tomorrow I will be posting the draft history of both the Celtics and the Suns for the past decade. In that, you will see that the Celtics never overdrafted a player that high and kept him. Twice they drafted in the top ten (Randy Foye and Jeff Green) but traded them for better assets by the end of the night.

Don't expect the Suns to trade out of the 5th pick. It's probably more likely they trade up to #2 to guarantee their choice of McLemore/Oladipo than trade down.

The interest in Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams may be real. But it's more likely that interest is in taking whoever drops to a later pick. Later than #5, through some kind of trade.

But that's just my guess. I deal in conjecture on this here blog.

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5th Pick: Victor Oladipo (SG)

Measurables:

Height: 6' 4.25"

Weight: 213

Wingspan: 6' 9.25"

BF%: 6.6

Verticle (Max): 42"

Stats:

Totals:

Per Game:

Advanced:

Videos:

Combine Interview (courtesy of Draft Express)


Draft Scouting Video with in-depth analysis (courtesy of Draft Express)


And if his playing alone isn't reason enough to draft him, which it most certainly is, he could also fill in as the half-time entertainment on any given night if need be. The man can sing!


Potential Draft Range: 2-5

While it's anyone's guess who the Suns will actually end up drafting with the 5th pick this Thursday, I feel comfortable saying with relative certainty that if Oladipo is still available by the time the Suns' make their selection that he will be their guy.

Summary:

I've been on the Oladipo bandwagon all year long, and have made no secret of my love for his game. He was without a doubt my favorite college player this past season, and I am convinced he is one of the top three prospects in this draft. In my opinion, it would be a great value if the Suns end up drafting Oladipo with the 5th pick in the draft. The Suns can only hope that they are fortunate enough to do so. There have been rumors surfacing lately that the Orlando Magic like Oladipo better than McLemore now, and could select him as high as the 2nd pick. In order for Phoenix to draft Oladipo, they need either Trey Burke or Alex Len to crack the top 4. If either of these scenarios happen, the Suns' chances of drafting Oladipo increases significantly.

30th Pick: Ricardo Ledo (SG)

Measurables:

Height: 6' 6"

Weight: 197

Wingspan: 6' 7.25"

BF%: 10.25

Verticle (Max): 33.5"

Stats:

N/A

Ledo was one of the top guard prospects in the nation (ranked as high as #6 overall by Rivals.com) and a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school last year, but was declared academically ineligible last season at Providence and didn't play a single game in college.

Videos:

Combine Interview (courtesy of Draft Express)

Draft Workout Preparation(courtesy of SLAM Magazine)

Potential Draft Range: 16-35

Summary:

Ledo is without question one of the biggest question marks in this year's draft. On one hand he could be the same player who was ranked ahead of top prospects like Anthony Bennett, Marcus Smart, and Glenn Robinson III just last year (according to Rivals.com); or he could be an unproven high school phenom who fails to make the transition to the NBA after missing out on the experience of playing in the NCAA.

Ricky Ledo is without question a very talented young prospect who was one of the best scorers out of the entire class of 2012. In addition to his ability to get to the hoop and score from nearly anywhere on the court, he has incredible handles, a knack for creating off the dribble, and the skills of a combo guard with the ability to create for teammates with very good court vision and passing.

So why isn't he a lottery pick?

Well, there are a couple major red flags.

In addition to missing his only NCAA season due to academic ineligibility, and the lack of game tape with which to evaluate him, there are some legit character concerns as well.

He has built the reputation of being a locker room cancer in the past; so much so that one anonymous coach of his was reportedly quoted as saying that Ledo was, " the single worst human being I'd ever been associated with on a basketball court” and a “program killer.”

However, other coaches of his have had much better things to say about Ledo, and by all accounts he has had very impressive interviews and workouts with the teams he has visited, including Phoenix.

Ledo has eased many of the on-court concerns with his showing at the combine as well as with teams workouts. His biggest obstacle will be overcoming those character concerns. Still, most analysts claim that Ledo's stock is rising fast, so once again, Phoenix will likely need a little luck if they plan on drafting him.

So is Ledo really worth the risk? Absolutely. If Ledo is still available at #30 when the Suns pick, they shouldn't hesitate to make him their selection. He has top prospect potential and ability, and in my opinion, would be an absolute steal at the end of the first round.

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Now Ford is lauding the opportunity to be the first in the world to see the next Phoenix Sun walking up to David Stern for a handshake sometime about 4:55pm on Thursday, June 27. He dreams of watching that draft pick don a Suns cap, flash those pearly whites and point to the sky over his great fortune.

Ford anticipates standing as close to the dais as possible, hoping to lock eyes with the kid and maybe even share the knuck-bump as he heads off to his first NBA interview as a Sun.

Ford loves the Suns.

Amiright, Suns fans?

Seriously though, Ford did post the names of the first ten NBA players who were invited to sit in the 'green room' on Draft Night.

Those invited are: Nerlens Noel (Kentucky); Victor Oladipo (Indiana); Otto Porter (Georgetown); Alex Len (Maryland); Anthony Bennett (UNLV); Ben McLemore (Kansas); Trey Burke (Michigan); Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse); C.J. McCollum (Lehigh) and Cody Zeller (Indiana).

Surprisingly, the top ten invited to ESPN's 'green room' are the same top ten that Ford lists on the ESPN Big Board for 2013.

Hand to mouth.

ESPN is airing the broadcast, and somehow perchance the first ten players invited are the top ten on Ford's Big Board. But Ford does introduce some room for differences, though there were none.

NBA general managers are polled to determine which players are likely to be drafted in the lottery.

In the past, the NBA has expanded the list of green room invites as the draft date nears. Typically, the NBA has invited 13-to-15 players.

This year, the league has told a number of agents it may add a few names to the list as the draft approaches.

In 2011, the NBA invited both Morris brothers to the 'green room' despite being ranked only 21 and 22 by Ford. This year, Ford names a few guys who could get the late call:

Several others players, including Georgia's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Pittsburgh's Steven Adams, UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, Russia's Sergey Karasev, Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk and Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo, could be extended invites.

Ford inexplicably left Rudy Gobert off the list of possible late invites. Not sure how that happened, but I'm sure there will be a retraction/apology/re-write very soon. Possibly later tonight.

PHOENIX — Arizona swingman Solomon Hill and ASU forward Carrick Felix aren’t supposed to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft, but they’re arguably doing more than anyone...

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