ESPN's Thorpe Compares Warren to Deng

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by Matt Petersen

As’s Greg Esposito pointed out a few weeks ago, Summer League is a veritable who’s-who of NBA media and personalities. Count David Thorpe as one of those who left particularly impressed by a Suns prospect.

Thorpe is the Executive Director of the Pro training Center in Clearwater, Florida. He also contributes to The guy has been around basketball for well over two decades, mostly as a personal trainer for the world’s best up-and-coming hoops talents.

His takeaways from Summer League, then, are the informed kind you can trust. With that in mind, here’s what he had to say about Suns rookie T.J. Warren and his performance in Las Vegas:

"Warren looked like a five-year veteran playing against kids. He did a great job working to get involved in the transition game, proving that speed alone is not the only way to score effectively on breaks. He just recognized he had a chance to race out and get open before his opponents did…Warren won't be the best overall NBA player from this class, but he might be the best pure scorer, and in my opinion he was the best overall rookie in Las Vegas."

Thorpe also said that the 14th overall pick from this year’s draft “resembled a better scoring version of Luol Deng.” Keep in mind that Deng was actually one of Thorpe’s many trainees over the years, so he knows what he’s talking about.

The Warren-Deng comparison is justified. When the Heat forward was drafted by Chicago in 2004, he measured 6-8 and weighed 220 pounds – identical to Warren’s official draft numbers. From a very basic physical point, their NBA launching points are the same.

Deng played one year at Duke before declaring for the draft, at which point he was 19 years old. Warren logged an extra year in college, a season in which he averaged 24.9 points per game, and is now 20 years old.

Here’s a look at their career college stats, keeping in mind that Warren’s is an average of a decent freshman year and a spectacular sophomore season while Deng hovered somewhere in between in his lone year with the Blue Devils:

Deng: 15.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 spg, 47.6 FG%, 36.0 3FG%

Warren: 18.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.5 spg, 55.5 FG%, 31.5 3FG%

The Deng comparison also dispels the notion that three-point shooting will make or break Warren’s NBA success. Deng’s best season in the league was in 2006-07, when he averaged 18.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals per game…and shot 14.3 percent from downtown.

Again, Thorpe – who worked extensively the veteran forward and is familiar with his game – says Warren resembles a better scoring version of the current version of Deng.

Considering Phoenix’s rookie waited twice as long as his veteran comparison to hear his name called on draft night (Deng was drafted seventh overall, Warren 14th), the Suns rookie already has a chance to become the steal of the 2014 rookie class.