Is this the guy for the Suns?

A week ago, I opined on the draft tendencies of the new Suns front office.

Their draft pick will remain a mystery until the final days, the tipping point simply being who the front office falls in love with. And judging by last year's draft, this front office doesn't like to be a jilted lover. They will likely hone in on a player under the radar, one not coveted by teams above them, unlikely to be snatched up right before their pick.

It seems that player has already been identified, given a promise ring and fitted for a chastity belt. If the reports are right, the only thing I was wrong about was how long it would take the Suns to fall in love.

Dion Waiters, 6th-man sophomore SG from Syracuse, has cancelled all pre-draft workouts and gone home for the month. And while Toronto has been linked to Waiters recently, one outlet says Phoenix is the rumored suitor.


Waiters is ranked on as the #8 overall prospect, but that's by far the highest he's gotten. Two other respected draft sites have Waiters being drafted at #17 ( and #18 (

Waiters definitely fits the bill of the Suns' needs: high-volume scorer, some PG skills in running the pick and roll, and high-energy ball-stealing defender all rolled into one. Some say he is undersized, but he is built solidly and at 6'4" in shoes he measures up just fine.

A "promise" is a little dangerous but not a bad plan if you really like a guy who is projected a little below your pick. If Waiters is there when the Suns pick, they get the guy they love. If Waiters is drafted before the Suns pick, that means someone else fell into the Suns' lap that wasn't supposed to fall there (Jeremy Lamb?). Works out well for Phoenix.

But the only reason Waiters would cancel workouts is if he (a) really loves the Suns and (b) has no interest in playing for a team higher in the lottery. Otherwise, why not work out for teams above the Suns, if that's who made the promise? If this is the Suns, they made a heck of a sales pitch.

The ESPN guy loves Waiters and has had him going to Toronto at #8 for weeks now.


And here's a quote in an espn insider article that speaks to Waiters' upside:

A number of NBA scouts who I really respect have been telling me for more than a month that the real sleeper in this draft is Syracuse sophomore Dion Waiters.

One GM went even further. "There are really only two potential superstars in this draft. One is a sure thing -- freshman Anthony Davis. The other one is Waiters. He can be an electric scorer in the NBA. There's some Dwyane Wade in him."

So Waiters has a ceiling that's pretty high. 'How high' is the real question. Someone gave him a promise.

Was it Toronto? Probably not. Toronto is shopping the #8 pick right now, and you saw above that Bryan Colangelo is openly denying any promise. How can you promise anything when you're not even sure where you are drafting, if at all?

Phoenix, on the other hand, just promised the local reporters this week that they are almost certainly staying at #13, which I thought was odd when I read it on BSotS. Why no creativity? Why no "we're looking to move up, down, whatever to get the best player."

Well, now it makes sense. When you promise your draft slot, you can't be trading it away.

And like I wrote a week ago (no, I don't have any inside info), Blanks falls in love. He loved Morris a year ago and still does. In fact, that's the very reason you won't see the Suns draft a big man.

He loved Iman Shumpert a year ago and tried to pick up another draft pick in the 20s to take him. But when he was snatched up by New York at #17 after a late workout for them, Blanks was jilted and didn't even bother grabbing a pick for any other draftee.

So it all makes sense that Blanks and Babby would talk their beloved into NOT working out for anyone else. God forbid he wows Toronto in a workout this month. Or any other team looking for high-octane SG that either already has a pick in the top-12 or is willing to buy/trade for one.

Whoever made that promise to Waiters has to trust that no team above them would draft Waiters without a personal workout or interview. Last year, a couple of late first-round draft picks and their suitors played this game and it worked for the most part.

My guess is that Kyler is right and that the Suns are the suitor. It checks off all the boxes for the Suns and for Waiters. Waiters has a starting spot waiting for him, possibly next to Steve Nash. And if he's not ready to start, he can be a spark-plug off the defense-oriented bench. The Suns get the volume scorer they have coveted for two years now.

Here's some links on Waiters that are interesting:

Waiters has a promise, but not to Toronto; Raptors still like him anyway

Syracuse’s Dion Waiters shuts down predraft workouts, may have promise | SI Tracking Blog – Tracking MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and NCAA On Twitter

NBA Rumors & Draft News, Day 3

Dion Waiters profile |

Dion Waiters |

Breaking down No. 2 Syracuse's zone efficiency - Luke Winn -

Is this a good move for the Suns, to promise their #13 pick to Dion Waiters?

  449 votes | Results

The return of Michael Redd to an NBA basketball court was one of the under-publicized feel-good stories of this season after two crushing tears to his ACL cost him more than two full season’s...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Mar. 08, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA;  Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) handles the ball against the Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill (33) during the second half at the US Airways Center.  The Suns defeated the Mavericks 96-94. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.

Summer has begun, classes are over and I have nothing but time on my hands (until I get a summer job anyway). So, armed with, I've decided to assign myself the task of going through the Suns' roster and breaking down the usage and success rate of each position group.

Centers: Offense - Defense

Power Forwards: Offense - Defense

I previously wrote about the offensive numbers for the small forwards, and they showed that Grant Hill struggled with his shot while Micheal Redd was a decent offensive spark off the bench. Oh, and we also learned Josh Childress didn't do a whole lot on offense. Now let's take a look at those guys on defense. I have a feeling the opposite will be true (well, except for Childress; he didn't do much on defense either).

First, allow me to explain in more detail the numbers I looked at. Here's a key for the terms Synergy uses:

Synergy Stat Definitions

PPP – Points Per Play. A "Play" is always ended with a shot attempt, turnover or getting to the free throw line. PPP is the player’s total points, excluding technical free throws, divided by their total plays.

Rank – This is where a player or team’s PPP ranks amongst their league peers. A player must have at least 25 plays for a given category in order to qualify for a league ranking.

%SF - Percent Shooting Foul. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team drew a shooting foul.

%TO – Percent Turnover. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team turns the ball over.

%Score – Percent Score. This is the percentage of plays where the player or team scores at least 1 point, including any resulting free throws.

So these numbers track the raw results. They don't factor in everything, which is where the interpretation begins and where watching the games live helps.

The offensive categories are Isolation, Pick-and-Roll Ball Handler, Post-Up, Pick-and-Roll Roll Man, Spot-Up, Off Screen, Hand-Off, Cut, Offensive Rebound, Transition, All Other Plays and Overall. On defense, the categories are the same minus the Cut, Offensive Rebound, Transition and All Other Plays categories as there aren't really any individual defenders assigned on these plays.

With that out of the way, let's dive into the numbers.

Grant Hill

Considering Grant Hill was asked to match up with the opponents' best scorer night in and night out, it shouldn't be a surprise that he defended isolations more than any other play (25.2%). He gave up 0.79 PPP, ranked 159, and opponents shot an even 35% against him.

He also spent a lot of time contesting spot-up shooters (23.5%) and did fairly well, posting a PPP of 0.83 for a rank of 74 and held shooters to 36.6% from the field. Fun fact: he didn't commit a single shooting foul in these situations. Growing up I was told never to foul a jumpshooter. Apparently Hill was taught the same thing.

Grant defended the ball-handler on pick-and-rolls 21.8% of the time, and his PPP against was the same as it was in isolations: 0.79. That earned him a 106 ranking. Hill only gave up 36.8% shooting and he forced turnovers on 14.9% of plays.

Those are his three most commonly defended play types, and the total plays he defended after that fall off. Next is players running off screens at 11%. His PPP was 0.82 and his rank was 52. Opponents shot 41.3%, and again he did not commit a single shooting foul. The man is a smart defender.

He defended post-ups on 9.7% of his plays, with a .73 PPP and a 56 ranking. Opponents only shot 13-35, and he forced a turnover twice as often as he committed a shooting foul.

Hill's overall PPP was 0.78, which only ranked him 78th. But he held opponents to 36.5% shooting and 32.3% from 3-point range. He only fouled 4.1% of the time, while he forced a turnover on 8.8% of his plays defended. His overall %Score against was 36.2%. Furthermore, opponents scored under 40% of the time on each of ply types with the exception of hand offs, a play type he only defended 21 times all year. Grant Hill may be an old man, but he's still a quality, versatile defender who makes his opponent work on every play.

Michael Redd

As for Michael Redd ... well, the numbers aren't very pretty. He only recorded 144 total defensive plays, so small sample size heavily factors in here.

Redd's most commonly defended play was the spot-up, with a whopping 43 total plays recorded. He gave up a .091 PPP to those shooters, which ranked him 148th. Second is isolation with 29 total plays, a PPP of 0.90 and a rank of 246. Those were the only two play types for which he qualified to be ranked.

He defended 25 plays where his man ran off a screen, and gave up 12-21 shooting, including 5-7 from beyond the arc. However, he did much better on his 25 plays against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, where he held opponents to 6-20 shooting and forced 3 turnovers.

Most of his numbers were mediocre to bad, and that combined with the small number of plays resulted in a 0.93 PPP and a rank of 369. Ouch. He gave up 40.2% shooting and 36.2% shooting from deep. Really, the only thin he was good at was defending rick-and-roll ball-handlers.

Josh Childress

Josh Childress actually recorded almost as many defensive plays as Redd did (132), and the results are just plain ugly.

He defended spot-up shooters on 40 plays, and gave up an even 1.00 PPP for a rank of 251. Opponents didn't really shoot that well against him, but they did make eight 3-pointers (on 25 attempts) and he committed three shooting fouls to bring the PPP up.

He defended 29 isolation plays, an again gave up a 1.00 PPP for an even worse rank of 297. Iso players connected on nine of 20 field goal attempts against him, and he sent them to the line on another 6 plays.

On 23 plays against the pick-an-roll ball-handler, he again gave up a 1.00 PPP and his opponents shot 10-19. He gave up a PPP of 1.11 when chasing shooters off of screens as they shot 9-16. He was eaten alive on his handful of attempts at defending the post.

Overall, his PPP was 1.02, which was good for a rank of 445. Opponents shot 45.8% and 41.7% from deep. He was actually slightly worse last season. So much for the defensive stopper we expected when he was acquired.


According to the numbers, Grant Hill is good, Michael Redd is bad and Josh Childress shouldn't get off the bench very often. I think this was pretty clear from watching the games though, so I'm not exactly telling you something you didn't already know.

The Suns’ media relations staff made it very clear that Lance Blanks was not going to discuss the part of the NBA calendar year that occurs in July on Monday, but that hasn’t stopped...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Have the Spurs run out of mojo? I was sure that Tim Duncan was going to hit a game-tying three at the end of Game 5 and crush the souls of generations of Thunder fans. But I guess that was just me projecting my nightmares.

And yet, I am totally prepared, if not expecting, the Spurs to win the next two games and crush the souls of generations of Thunder fans. That's what they do....or maybe it's just what they did.

WCF Game 6 San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on TNT

Page 1219 of 1889


Web Links

Sponsored Ads