The NBA media and fans are seemingly divided when it comes to assessing the Phoenix Suns' 2013 NBA Draft choices. With such an emphasis placed on immediately grading draft results and projecting future returns, let's take a look back at the past few years to see how recent Phoenix Suns drafts (2008-13) have been received.

NOTE: Since the Suns did not have a first round pick in 2010, we will not be revisiting that year.



#15: Robin Lopez
#45: Goran Dragic

In what was arguably the most successful of the team's drafts in the past ten years (thank you Steve Kerr), the Suns netted what would become a quality rotation player in Robin Lopez and a solid starting point guard in Goran Dragic. Although the former was let go to New Orleans even after he was wooed by last year's front office in quite a "comical" fashion, as you all know, the latter is currently the team's best player after a return from being banished to Houston in 2011 (no thank you, Lance Blanks). Let's see what grades these picks received in 2008 from NBA "experts:"

Yahoo Sports: B
DraftExpress: D

Both ESPN and Yahoo Sports elected to give Phoenix a "B" for their 2008 draft haul, which seems fair in retrospect. Both picks of Lopez and Dragic were appreciated by those outlets. On the other hand, DraftExpress gave the Suns a "D," in essence implying that the team failed the draft. Although they were fine with picking Lopez at 15, they strangely had an issue with the trade that landed Dragic in Phoenix while surrendering two late second rounders and cash. Most hilariously, they had this to say about the Dragic pick:

We always talk about value, value, value…the Suns did not get a lot of it here.




#14: Earl Clark
#48: Taylor Griffin

The 2009 draft is famous among Suns fans for having nearly brought Steph Curry to the desert. Instead, the end result was quite disappointing: Earl Clark and Taylor Griffin. While Clark was a disappointment during his time in orange and purple (and in Orlando before he inexplicably had a productive season for the Lakers last year), Griffin was not a disappointment. This is primarily because no one expected him to ever stick to the roster; he lived up to those expectations and was last seen living on his brother's couch playing in the D-League. These are some of the grades the Suns' underwhelming 2009 draft received:

CBS Sports: B
NBC Sports: C
Looking back, the only one of these three grades that seems close to fair is the "C" the Suns got from NBC Sports. However, my personal favorite is the "A-" from ESPN's renowned draft expert Chad Ford, who used words such as "dominant," "terrific fit," and "top-five" to describe the inimitable Earl Clark. I have a feeling "butazz" is probably a more accurate and relevant description of Clark's time in Phoenix.



#13: Markieff Morris

Widely deemed as a "safe" pick, the selection of Markieff Morris in 2011 received mixed reviews from the media and fans alike. The pick looks even worse in hindsight when considering the fact that players such as Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert, Kenneth Faried, Jimmy Butler, and Chandler Parsons were all chosen after Morris, who is yet to show any consistency in his career. Here's how this selection was received by various media outlets:

Yahoo Sports: B-
CBS Sports: F
Hoopsworld: A-

Yahoo gave the Suns a conservative grade of "B-," pointing to Morris' "long arms and defensive instincts" as characteristics that would help the team (Morris has notoriously short arms for his height and has very poor defensive instincts). CBS' grade was harsh, yet accurate, noting that Phoenix should have picked Leonard at this spot. Hoopsworld's "A-" seems hilariously inaccurate today, especially since they noted that this was a great need-based pick. Drafting for need is always smart when there are better players on the board, correct?



#13: Kendall Marshall

In the 2012 draft, the Suns selected PG Kendall Marshall from UNC, once again drafting for need over talent. Thus far (keep in mind that it has only been a year), this has proved to be a mistake yet again. Marshall will definitely need more time to develop, but the results thus far have been mixed at best. Although the final verdict on this pick is still up in the air (we won't know for another couple years, at least) this is how this pick was graded:

Yahoo Sports: B
CBS Sports: F
Hoopsworld: A-

The Kendall Marshall pick received nearly identical grades as the 2011 selection of Morris. While Yahoo was once again conservative and CBS critical (noting that Marshall was picked "about six picks too high"), Hoopsworld for some reason really loves when bad teams draft for need.



#5: Alex Len
#29: Archie Goodwin
#57: Alex Oriakhi

New Suns GM boldly selected Alex Len ahead of Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore, traded up one spot to draft Archie Goodwin at the 29th spot, and selected Alex Oriakhi near the end of the second round. Overall, the reactions to the Suns' picks have been mixed:

Yahoo Sports: B
CBS Sports: F (Len), B+ (Goodwin), B+ (Oriakhi)
Hoopsworld: C-

Most NBA media pundits are questioning McDonough's selection of Len over Noel and McLemore, with some even arguing that this pick seems reminiscent of the type of move the last GM would make. This is a sentiment that I completely disagree with.


  • Yahoo Sports has been consistently conservative in grading Suns' drafts, while Hoopsworld has for the most part been laudatory of the team's questionable picks in recent years.
  • CBS Sports hates us.
  • There is no discernible pattern or correlation that established the accuracy of most draft grades.
  • Draft grades given out immediately after a draft serve almost no purpose but to increase readership. Since most draft choices are made based on potential, it makes no sense to assess the immediate returns a team receives from its draft picks, which is what draft grades aim to do. Revisiting past years' draft grades allowed me to uncover some hilarious and wildly inaccurate projections of past prospects.
  • The only way to really assess the success of a team's draft is to review it at least a couple years afterwards.
  • The 2008 draft (Lopez and Dragic) was the most successful one the Suns have had since 2002 (Amare Stoudemire).
  • McDonough's draft choices this year are not at all similar to Lance Blanks' picks in 2011 and 2012. Whereas Blanks repeatedly made safe draft choices, McDonough's moves were the exact opposite. By going against the grain in choosing Len over Noel and McLemore, McDonough not only displayed conviction in his system, but also great bravado in making a move that is easy for many to doubt. The Goodwin trade/pick is another shrewd move that represents high upside.
  • Ryan McDonough's move to trade up one spot to draft Archie Goodwin is highly reminiscent (at least to me) of the last time a Suns GM bizarrely traded up a couple spots late in the draft to take an underdeveloped guard - when Steve Kerr moved up from 48 to 45 to acquire Goran Dragic in a draft day trade (a move that was doubted and criticized by the NBA world at the time).


1) Draft grades are meaningless. In fact, it really is practically impossible to judge a team's choice of prospects until they are given time (a few years) to display the full extent of their NBA-level talents.

2) If anything, Ryan McDonough's draft selections represent a welcome departure from the safe picks made by the Suns in the last two years. Although immediate reactions have been justifiably mixed, one thing is for certain: the new GM is not afraid to make a move that he believes is best for the franchise, even if no one outside the organization does. Since everyone seemed to support his hiring and acknowledge his scouting experience and expertise, shouldn't we give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise?

What grade do you give to assess the value of immediate draft grades?

  344 votes | Results


Before you get all up in arms over which player the Suns should have picked at the bottom of the first round, let's first recognize that anyone drafted so late in the game is extremely unlikely to have a productive NBA career.

At that point in the Draft, it doesn't matter if you take a senior, junior, sophomore or freshman. It doesn't matter if you take a specialist or jack-of-all-trades.

Of the 30-32 players drafted at 29 or later since 2000, an average of only 4 players have become quality NBA rotation players or starters each year. That equates to a 15% chance of striking gold. You need to have great scouting and some measure of luck to draft a guy that late who will contribute to your franchise for years to come.

Will 18-year old Archie Goodwin become one of those four or five players from late in the 2013 Draft who succeed in the NBA?

On the plus side, Goodwin is a great athlete who is still quite young and just scratching the surface of his potential. He has always been one of the top players in his age group, was a McDonald's high school All-American, Mr. Basketball in his home state of Arkansas, led a 21-12 Kentucky team in scoring and led the ACC SECin free throw attempts at just 18 years old.

"Goodwin is an athletic freak," says Glen Logan of SB Nation's UK Kentucky Wildcats blog www.aseaofblue.com. "He has a blinding first step and a great deal of speed with the ball. He's also incredibly durable. He hit the floor more times, hard, than any player I can ever remember, and he popped up every time. Tough, aggressive kid."

Logan goes on to say that Goodwin is a "tireless worker" who will give 100% all the time and that attacking the rim is Goodwin's greatest strength.

"He's young and raw," Logan said. "But he has every physical tool to be a quality NBA player, even a starter if his shot improves enough. He is also naturally aggressive, and that's something it's almost impossible to teach."

GM Ryan McDonough believes that Goodwin would have been a top-10 pick in 2014 had he stayed in school for his sophomore season, indicating the Suns may have found a gem.

"He was a guy we had targeted the whole time," McDonough said at Goodwin's introductory media conference. "He's a guy we feel has special potential and we didn't want to take a risk somebody ahead of us would take him."

The Suns did work to move up in the draft much higher than 29 to nab Goodwin, but couldn't find a taker. Even moving up one spot to get Goodwin, though, was worth it.

"Right after we got him," McDonough said. "My phone started blowing up [with] a lot of calls and texts saying, That was our guy, We were trying to get a pick, we were right behind you."

Goodwin sounded humble and grateful for the chance to play in the NBA. He knows that, while he has some great skills, he has a great deal to work on.

"I have a lot of room to grow," Goodwin said. "I'm only 18. I can get a lot stronger. I can get a lot more consistent in shooting, getting my dribbling better, and getting a high IQ for the game. There's a lot of things I need to work on, and I'm going to get started as soon as possible."

This statement was in marked contrast to recent Suns rookies who acted as if they'd already arrived. When asked the last two years what they needed to prove, Suns rookies said they had nothing to prove. They talked up their pluses and didn't own up to their minuses. At least Goodwin is starting with the right attitude.

With such a great kid with mad athleticism and high potential, what could possibly go wrong? How did this kid drop to 29th in the NBA Draft at only 18 years old?

Right now, Goodwin is a one-trick pony on offense.

"Attacking the rim is both his greatest strength, and a partial weakness," says Logan, of the KU blog. "Goodwin's perimeter shot is highly inconsistent for three reasons:

  • He has an adjustment at the top where he moves his wrist inside and closer to the center of his body;
  • He never shoots at a nice, vertical angle, always leaning sideways, backwards or forwards;
  • He shoots at a very flat trajectory.

"Here we get into the old saying, 'When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail," Logan continues. "Goodwin saw way more driving opportunities than were actually there at Kentucky, and as a result, created a lot of fouls and a lot of charges."

The Phoenix Suns see Goodwin in a point guard role in the NBA, as a score-first ballhandler in the mold of Tyreke Evans, Russell Westbrook, Ty Lawson and even Goran Dragic. The NBA is moving in that direction, where the point guard puts pressure on the defense to collapse, which opens up passing lanes and uncontested 3-point shots.

"Archie does have a reasonably good handle for a 2 guard," Logan says on that front. "But it needs to tighten up a lot for point guard duties. He is very right-handed, and must learn to use his left much, much better both for dribbling and shooting. He does not have a great basketball IQ, as he often makes the wrong decision, but a lot of that is driven by his limited perimeter game and his aggressive nature."

When asked to compare Goodwin to an existing NBA player, Logan found a fit with Sacramento and one-and-done Calipari player Tyreke Evans.

"Tyreke went to Memphis, but Calipari did recruit and coach him there just like Goodwin at UK," Logan says. "Tyreke was brought in as an off-guard, just like Goodwin, but like Goodwin, he was a combo in high school.

"Evans' lack of shooting forced Cal to move him to the point, where he excelled. Calipari couldn't really move Goodwin there permanently for several reasons, not the least of which was a depressing lack of scoring threats.

"[Goodwin] wound up playing more of a 2-3 hybrid, with a little reserve point guard. Tyreke's basketball IQ was higher than Goodwin's in college, which is why Goodwin couldn't really handle the point even if we could have left him there."

Another comparison to make is Russell Westbrook, who also played combo guard in college at UCLA before being made a point guard in the NBA.

"As athletic as Goodwin is, Westbrook is more so," Logan says. "With that said, Goodwin is longer, but Westbrook has more natural balance, I think, than Archie does at this point, as well as a functioning left hand and a much tighter dribble.

"The two are similar in some ways, especially how strongly they finish at the rim, and they are somewhat similar in development level coming out of college, although Westbrook had the experience of two years in college, and had a higher basketball IQ."

I want to give a lot of props to Glen Logan for providing great insight into Archie Goodwin. Now we can watch Goodwin develop in the NBA with an eye toward what he needs to improve: his left hand, his shooting and his basketball IQ.

Something Archie has going for him that many rookies don't have is a crazy competitiveness and recognition that he's not already arrived.

"We are trying to build a culture here, a good foundation of success," McDonough said. "And that starts with people who work hard and are willing to make the necessary commitment to be great."

Regarding Goodwin, "The coaches had great things to say about him. He was the first one in the gym."

Another big plus is that Goodwin got drafted by the team he really wanted.

"It was a sigh of relief for me," Goodwin said of the Suns trading up for him. "For one, this was the team that I wanted to play for. I feel really comfortable here and I feel like I have the opportunity to do some special things here."

The development of Archie Goodwin will require patience. Of those 4 in 32 who succeed after being taken 29th or later, a few were very young like Goodwin who just didn't hit it off in college or bypassed it entirely (like DeAndre Jordan, Monta Ellis, Gilbert Arenas).

We'll see in 2-3 years if Goodwin is a boom or a bust, but all along we'll be able to spend time watching a great, aggressive talent try to find himself in the NBA.

UPDATE: Tons of errors! Apparently, I am having a bad morning. Put Bradley in title (like the Dbacks prospect, like McDonough's recent combo guard pick) instead of Goodwin. Put ACC. should have been SEC. Put KU instead of UK. Ugh!! How many different fans can I manage to offend in one article? A lot. Many apologies to Diamondback fans, Suns fans, Kentucky fans, SEC fans, and Glen!

PHOENIX – The last time Phoenix Suns general manager drafted a Kentucky guard who left school too early and without a jump shot, it turned out pretty well. Phoenix picked Rajon Rondo 21st overall in...

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The Phoenix Suns have waived Hamed Haddadi, per a team release, but have done nothing in regards to Shannon Brown, according to a Paul Coro report, meaning the veteran shooting guard will have a...

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As expected, Hamed Haddadi was released, which saves the Suns $1.2 million in salary and opens minutes for rookie center Alex Len.

The surprise came with the other decision.

After being banished to the bench once Lindsey Hunter took over as coach of the Phoenix Suns, many assumed that Shannon Brown had played his last game in orange and purple.

That may be true, but only because the Suns are changing their uniforms and primary color scheme to orange and black.

Shooting guard Shannon Brown will remain with the Suns on a full-guaranteed $3.5 million contract for the 2013-14 season.

Brown handled his benching last spring in a professional manner, only commenting to the press when he was sought out for comment. After the season ended, Brown admitted the Suns "lied" to him about his opportunities for playing time in the 2012-13 season when he signed a two-year deal for $7 million last summer. The second year was half-guaranteed, allowing the Suns an outlet if they wanted to go in a different direction this summer.

Apparently, the Suns wanted Brown to stay right where he is. Hopefully, for Brown's sake, that means either a trade or playing time.

Since the end of the season, the Suns have replaced the GM and head coach who banished Brown. Maybe this signals a fresh start for Brown.

For the Suns to waive Brown and save half of his 2013-14 in the process, they needed to release him by noon today (36 hours after midnight of draft night). A source with the Phoenix Suns has confirmed that the team allowed the deadline to pass without action, which guarantees Brown's entire 2013-14 salary.

With Jared Dudley still under contract and P.J. Tucker likely to be kept (the Suns have until Monday night to guarantee his 884K), the Suns now have no less than five players to man the shooting guard position in 2013-14. Only Dudley averaged better than 35% on 3-pointers last season, a staple in a good NBA offense.

At the Draft on Thursday night, the Suns came away with Archie Goodwin and Malcolm Lee. Both are guaranteed contracts of about 900K each for next season. Malcolm Lee, a defense-oriented shooting guard who has not been able to stay healthy, is on the final year of his rookie deal.

Only Jared Dudley and Archie Goodwin are guaranteed contracts beyond next season. Brown, Lee and Tucker are all expiring contracts, totaling $5.3 million.

Dudley and Tucker can slide to small forward easily, but Michael Beasley and Marcus Morris already get minutes at that position.

Wing minutes will be tight in 2013-14. Wesley Johnson, a free agent, is now unlikely to be resigned unless more moves are made this summer.

Free agency begins on Monday, and trades under the new league year can begin on July 10, after the moratorium to settle the books and open the new year.

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