Now that the Suns are extremely out of the Western Conference Playoff race and words like "future" are being tossed around liberally by fans I started to think of June's NBA draft. As you're likely aware, the Suns will be slotted with anywhere from 12th - 14th pick in the draft depending on how they finish out this season. Sure they could hit the lottery jackpot and wind up in the top 3 but that probably won't happen.
Considering that was the general area the Suns were going to be picking in I decided to try and take a look at how that portion of the draft had fared in recent years. Since the draft can easily be broken up into sixth's I've expanded our range from the 11th pick overall to the 15th pick in the first round (which is currently the first pick out of the lottery). So how have things been going for teams in that range?
Well, bad. In fact, the 11-15 slots have basically been fruitless for the past 14 drafts.
If you're looking for someone who has developed into an All-Star player (even 1 appearance) from the 11-15 draft spots you have to go all the way back to 1996 when some schlubs named Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic and Steve Nash went 13, 14, and 15. Since then? Zero.
That's 70 different draft picks over the course of 14 years, none of which could muster 1 All-Star appearance. Sure there's still time for the 2010 middle picks - Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry, Ed Davis, Patrick Patterson, and Larry Sanders - but apparently the odds are quite long.
If you're looking for an All-Star comparison over that same 1997-present period here it is (listing all the guys with at least 1 appearance):
1st - 5th pick: 24 All-Stars (Duncan, Brand, K. Martin, Yao, L. James, D. Howard, D. Rose, B. Griffin, Francis, Durant, Billups, B. Davis, Gasol, C. Anthony, D. Williams, Horford, Jamison, Bosh, Paul, Westbrook, V. Carter, Wade, D. Harris, Love)
6th - 10th pick: 11 All-Stars (Szczerbiak, Kaman, Roy, R. Hamilton, McGrady, Nowitzki, Marion, Stoudemire, Pierce, J. Johnson, C. Butler)
Obviously the picks coming before 11-15 should outperform them, but even the portions of the draft coming AFTER have outperformed 11-15:
16th - 20th pick: 6 All-Stars (Artest, Magloire, Z. Randolph, D. West, J. Nelson, D. Granger)
21st - 25th pick: 3 All-Stars (Rondo, Kirilenko, Wallace)
26th - 30th pick: 3 All-Stars (T. Parker, J. Howard, D. Lee)
You can even reach into the 2nd round to find more All-Stars:
31st - 35th pick: 3 All-Stars (Arenas, Boozer, R. Lewis)
36th - 40th pick: 1 All-Star (Okur)
41st - 45th pick: 1 All-Star (Redd)
46th - 50th pick: 1 All-Star (M. Williams)
51st - 55th pick: 0 All-Stars
56th - 60th pick: 1 All-Star (Ginobili)
Seriously, look at that. You can break the NBA Draft into 12 even segments and only 2 of those segments have failed to yield an All-Star in the last 14 seasons. Hell, the 59th and 60th picks weren't even around until 2004. 51st - 55th has a solid excuse since most of those dudes are randoms you've probably never heard of, but what's up with 11-15?
Maybe you're saying to yourself, I'm sure it's not all bad, I'm sure it's borne some fine NBA players, just not All-Star level. And you'd not be totally wrong, but it's still not particularly attractive.
With stats as of March 31st, 2011 here are some of the overall statistical leaders for the 11th - 15th picks and some relevant NBA players and busts for that 1997-present period:
Games played: Bonzi Wells
Starts: Jared Jeffries
Rebounds: Andris Biedrins
Busts: Tariq Abdul-Wahad, Trajan Langdon, Jerome Moiso, Kedrick Brown, Fran Vasquez, Acie Law
Games played: Austin Croshere
Starts: Vladimir Radmanovic
Rebounds: Nick Collison
Games played: Corey Maggette
Starts: Richard Jefferson
Assists: Derek Anderson
Games played: Troy Murphy
Assists: Luke Ridnour
Games played: Matt Harpring
Points: Al Jefferson
Assists: Rodney Stuckey
Yup, that's the list. When you're trying to cling to Corey Maggette, Troy Murphy, and Al Jefferson as best in breed you know you've got problems. No the statistical measurement isn't perfect and you know I'm the last guy to go by All-Star berths but the findings are hilariously damning nonetheless.
If you're curious from the list above, any player I didn't mention wasn't good enough to be relevant but wasn't bad enough to be a bust. Examples are Anthony Randolph, Gerald Henderson, Terrance Williams, Austin Daye, and any of the 2010 draftees.
Obviously the numbers can and probably will improve over time since guys like Thaddeus Young, Rodney Stuckey, Kris Humphries, Tyler Hansbrough and Jason Thompson will continue playing and maybe starting games for years to come and probably become the statistical leaders for their pick. But it still doesn't appear there's an All-Star among any of those guys or any of the newer guys either.
If you had to form a starting 5 from those 11-15th picks this is probably what you'd be looking at:
C - Al Jefferson
PF - Troy Murphy
SF - Matt Harpring
SG - Richard Jefferson
PG - Rodney Stuckey
You can honestly throw together an arguably better starting 5 with guys picked between 56-60 (yes I know Amir Johnson is out of position but give me a break).
C - Marcin Gortat
PF - Luis Scola
SF - Amir Johnson
SG - Manu Ginobili
PG - Ramon Sessions
Does that mean the Suns should dump their lottery pick in exchange for one of the last 5 picks in the draft? Well obviously it does (not). But does that mean that when the Suns pick in that 11-15 range they are doomed to get a player who is at best Richard Jefferson and at worst Frederic Weis? Well not doomed but personally I wouldn't bet my SB Nation Arizona paycheck on it.
It's funny because most people look at that late lottery, low playoff drafting range and think that's the spot where teams pick guys who have high boom/bust probability. Yet in the last 14 years there has been lots of bust but no boom above a dull pop.
Maybe 2011 is the year that the next Kobe or Steve Nash slips to the 11-15 slots - but it probably isn't. Go ahead and disagree and talk about how much you love Jimmer, Kemba, and the Morris twins in the comments.
In a battle of Who Could Care Less, the Clips of LA venture into the valley of misery tonight. And by misery I mean 97 degrees on April 1 (not to mention the Suns are NOT going to the post season) and all indicatations are that VInce Carter is still with the team.
So its Blake and the boys versus the Suns. Perhaps some pseudo-friends have offered you free tickets to this one WITH a parking pass. Sweet. Maybe someone can grab Mr. Orange's autograph....and then flush it down the toilet.
I thought I would spice things up a smidge today with a different kind of a preview. Actually it's not a preview, it's something much more grandeoise:
5 or More Questions for the Infamous Phoenix Seth.
Now many of us BSOTS faithful have been around for a bit and know a little about the history and background of our beloved site and the cast of professional characters that keep it up and running. While many of us are only opinionated hacks (referring to myself mostly), there is one man you should all pay some attention to. Seth Pollack is our man on the inside. While the evil national media types spout off their garbage about this and that concerning the Suns, Seth is getting the real story. He's in the locker room, he's in the media room, Alvin Gentry's office, you name it. He's freakiun Geraldo Riviera up in there (without the 'stache)! As an example, last year when some putz living in Hawaii started popping off about internal goings on in Arizona that never occurred, Seth was there to assist in bringing the bugger to his knees for a forced apology on local radio. In addition, when the Suns went to the WCF last season, it was Seth who sacrificed the back window of his Prius for TOTAL COVERAGE. And may God strike down those gutless Laker fans who defaced the gentle Prius with great vengance and furious anger.
OK, enough with the intro and all. If you don't know, I'm here to let you know, PHX Seth is close to the team, local media, and important people Suns related. So I thought to hit him up for a little Q&A:
SP: I have no idea. As I wrote recently, I think Steve is frustrated with the season but he's not a rash kind of guy. He's going to think this through. He's going to listen to Babby's plan. And I think a big factor will be off the court. If his wife plans on staying in Scottsdale with their kids, he would be much more inclined to stay. If those kids aren't going to be here, he could be more open to leaving. Not everything is about basketball.
I think the organization will listen to offers but I still think Sarver (and Gentry) would rather have Nash here and be mediocre than get back some young assets and be horrible. Right now, I would say it's a 50/50 toss up.
Grant I think is much more likely to come back. His kids are older and in school. That was a big factor two years ago. He likes Alvin and seems comfortable here. Even if Steve is gone, Grant I would say is 80% likely to return.
One big thing to consider with all the free agents this summer is the timing of the lockout. It's VERY possible that if the thing drags on into the fall and games are missed that the free agency period will be a mad scramble. Lets say there's an agreement reached on December 1. They will want to get games going within a week or two so there could be a very (very) short window to sign guys. That could lead to quick, one-year deals with existing teams.
WC: #2 What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do the Suns have to wait out the results of the new CBA before they make any moves, or can/will they delve into free agency and start signing guys?
SP: The turtle always came first. Or is it the shrimps. I think we all evolved from shrimps, even the chicken and the egg. See above. The CBA expires at the end of June before free agency starts. It will be curious to see how active the trade market is around draft time though. Knowing that this year's free agency period will be a mess, we might see more trade activity in June. Or maybe the shrimps will reclaim the Earth and that won't happen either. Who knows.
WC #3 If you were the Suns FO, are you interested in re-signing Aaron Brooks? What type of deal would you offer him?
SP: No. It's no secret that I am not a fan of Brooks' game and that was before he came here. I didn't like the deal but I expected him to play well and I expected him to be a good locker room guy. Both are not true. I have to be vague sometimes with the lines between my own opinion and those of people in the organization I talk to off the record. With Brooks, there's troubling signs about his willingness to be a back up and we've seen him do some foolish things on the court.
Just since February he's stormed off the floor after he didn't like a decision from his coach in Houston. With the Suns already he was suspended a game for throwing a ball at the ref and then the other night, while no one faults him for standing up for Zabian, his crotch-grabbing, smile and wave act didn't go over well.
Just watching him play, even when he's getting his shot off, he doesn't seem the slightest bit integrated with the team chemistry and you won't find a more welcoming group of players. If you can't fit here...
Publicly, we've heard both Babby and Gentry talk openly about the need to get more bench scoring early in the fourth quarter. They weren't just answering questions either, this was top of mind for them and other players are starting to echo that concern. That's all on Brooks. That's why they traded for him.
So, right now I would say he doesn't come back even though that makes Babby and Blanks look really foolish for making the deal. With the new CBA it's impossible to gauge what kind of offer he would get on the open market but he thinks he's worth Mike Conley money ($45m).
There are some that think Goran didn't help himself either and that he may have been a bit too taken with the NBA life. He bought a house this year and had friends and family over and may not have worked as hard on his game as he had in the past. No one is saying he didn't work as hard as the normal NBA player, but he wasn't putting in the extra, extra time that he used to.
Even with that information, for me I still wouldn't have brought in Brooks. The rumblings out of Houston about how he handled not getting an extension offer he wanted were not good. And, as I've said, undersized scoring guards are not all that hard to come by. I would think the Suns could have used the pick and Dragic to get something better...or they could have held on to Dragic who at least defended and could play two positions and worked with him to get re-motivated. It will be interesting to see how Goran responds. I hope this season is a wake up call for him.
WC: #4. Do you see the Suns making a deal to move up in the draft and grab either Fredrette or Williams (if he comes out for the draft)? If not, what other players do you like in this year's draft that could be had by the Suns?
b. If you were Blanks/Babby/Sarver, would you look first for a dominant big man or a point guard in the draft?
SP: I've not put nearly enough time into studying the draft to say all that much here.
I think Jimmer (or Kemba) could still be on the board when the Suns draft around 12 anyway. I will say that someone I talked to who is familiar with the Suns scouting told me that they see Jimmer as a bench scoring guy in the mold of Ben Gordon while Kemba has more true point skills. Obviously, getting Williams would be great but I think it would be very hard to move up that high in the draft. We have to wait and see how the lottery plays out to know which teams are picking where before giving that much thought.
WC: #5 Let us say you are Robert Sarver a few months from now. The CBA situation is resolved. Faced with your current roster, what moves (trades, FA signings, etc) do you make?
SP: I am of the opinion that they should either go ahead and trade Nash and blow it up or they should do as little as possible. If you are going to bring Nash (and Hill) back, then the fewer deals the better. That said, I think they will need a backup point and a better option at back up PF. I am 90% certain they will move Lopez as well. But we are talking swapping out 2 or maybe 3 rotation players and not 5 or 6. And don't expect much from a late-lottery rookie. How often do those guys have an impact in their first year?
So what I would do is either blow it up, or do as little as possible and ride it out until 2012.
Again though, this summer is so much hard to predict because of the new CBA and I've never had much success predicting what Sarver is going to do anyway.
WC: . 5a. Would you categorize Marcin Gortat as an "untouchable" on the Suns squad? Are there any other Suns that are certain to return next season?
SP: Yup. They love him. I would have a hard time seeing Frye or Dudley go either and I do think the feel Chill can contribute more than he has this season if he's on the court with the right unit. Obviously, if you had to move any of those guys to get a star player you would, but that's not likely. Certainly, you wouldn't want to give up any of those role players for other role players or even picks (unless it's a very high pick).
WC: Do you think Alvin Gentry is certain to return as Suns coach?-that is, do you think he wants to return amid all of the changes that have occurred in this franchies the past couple of years?
SP: Yes. I have a hard time believing he won't be back. There's no indication the team doesn't like him or trust him and Sarver's not going to want to fire him and have to pay him for a couple of more years without a darn good reason. At this point in his career, he's settled here and working on his longest tenure as a head coach. I don't know why he would want to leave, even if Nash and Hill did.
Much thanks to Seth for taking time out of his busy schedule to enlighten us.
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