Suns Retorter: Draft Just the Start
If you want a draft report card, go somewhere else.
That’s because grading a draft within hours, days or weeks of when the player walked across the stage and shook Commissioner Silver’s hand is an exercise in futility, like most exercise that I’m involved in.
Imagine if you were a student and you received a grade the second you walked in the classroom before you ever had a chance to prove anything. If you’re like me, getting that grade based on appearance and assumptions wouldn’t have been very favorable.
The truth is, especially in Phoenix, that the draft marks the beginning and not the end of a long summer process of determining what rosters will look like for the 2014-15 season. A process that will continue with free agency starting July 1, trades and Summer League evaluations.
All along general manager Ryan McDonough said the team would draft the best player available regardless of position when they were on the clock. He held true to his word.
With the fourteenth pick he and his staff nabbed small forward TJ Warren from North Carolina State. He’s a slasher who can get hot on offense faster than the metal in your car under the July sun in Phoenix. He showed as much last year in college, where his 24.9 points per game were third best in the NCAA and earned him ACC Player of the Year honors. The kind of guy who can help fill the team’s need of getting buckets at the rim and making the tough scoring plays.
At 18, Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis was a surprise for some when the Suns called his name. It shouldn’t have been. It fit exactly what McDonough had said. The 6-2 Canadian facilitator brings a confidence and maturity beyond age of 19. In his one year as a member of the Orange -- yes, it is nice he doesn’t have to get used to a new color -- he had a 3.6/1 assist to turnover ratio, meaning he's more efficient than a hybrid KIA. In an offense predicated on having two guard capable of handling the ball on the floor at any time, he’ll fit in nicely with the current mix of guards on the roster and give added passing with limited turnovers off the bench.
At No. 27 and No. 50 the Suns went for potential and future value. In Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic the Suns picked up a guy who can do a little bit of everything, including taking some of the most entertaining pictures from the NBA Draft this side of Andrew Wiggins suit. At 22 years old he can pass, shoot and defend both guard positions and averaged almost 21 points in Euroleague and he’ll likely have a chance to develop even more there over the next year or two.
Alec Brown is an intriguing prospect at the No. 50 spot. The seven-footer out of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a unique combination of long-range shooting and interior defense. At the NBA Combine he hit 18-of-25 three pointers, he averaged over 40 percent in college, and in his final season in the Horizon League he was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year while averaging 2.8 blocks a game.
What does it all add up to? The Suns being deeper than the Grand Canyon. That’s good news on many fronts. Depth was a key in the team’s resurgence last year and just got stronger for year two under McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek. It also means more flexibility and assets available for potential trades in the offseason. Oh yea, and the team has more cap space to play with in free agency than money Scrooge McDuck had to swim in.
Go ahead and assign a grade if you must, but doing so seems short-sighted regardless of where it falls on the scale. They’re like appendix, fairly useless. This is just the start of an exciting summer and there will be plenty of time to make judgments when the basketball actually begins.