T-Minus 24 Hours: Hot Names Heading Into Suns Draft

Ryan Wolf/Suns.com
by Matt Petersen

It’s no surprise that Phoenix is involved in a lot of the pre-draft gossip. That’s what happens when a team has multiple picks (present and future), young talent and cap space.

The Suns are well-positioned to make any one of the possibilities a reality. They’ve also made no secret of the fact that they’re looking into, well, everything.

With 24 hours to go, here’s the latest buzz concerning Phoenix:

We’ve had our mock draft tracker in place for a while, now, but it’s worth noting the most common names mentioned in the same breath as Phoenix.

Adreian Payne Workout Interview

Adreian Payne came up as the most common pick for the Suns at 14 (the first of three first-round picks). He worked out in Phoenix back on June 6. He was the only projected lottery talent from that particular day’s group.

His combination of size (6-10, 239 pounds) and skill set projects well in today’s NBA and particularly for Phoenix. Payne hit over 42 percent from downtown last season at Michigan State. He also sports a wingspan (7’4”) even longer than last year’s fifth overall pick, Alex Len (7’3.5”) despite giving up three inches of height.

With Channing Frye recently opting for free agency, Payne could fit well whether it’s as a replacement or an understudy if Frye returns.

James Young is another popular pick for Phoenix at 14, most notably by ESPN.com’s Chad Ford. He’s had Young slotted for the Suns over his last four mocks, and it’s easy to nod at his logic.

EJ Breaks Down James Young

At still just 18 years of age, he already boasts great length (7-foot wingspan, 6-7 height) to go along with a shooting stroke that General Manager Ryan McDonough said is better “than what his stats indicated.” Head Coach Jeff Hornacek described his shooting stroke as “beautiful.”

Young worked out in the Valley on June 2. His workout group was particularly intriguing. It included other swingmen that project around the same range in the late lottery and mid-first round. Michigan State’s Gary Harris, Duke’s Rodney Hood and UCLA’s Zach LaVine are all possibilities at 14.

If Ford were a betting man, it sounds like he’d put money on TJ Warren winding up in Phoenix. His latest and final Big Board stressed that the Suns “at No. 14 or No. 18 are a real possibility [to draft him].”

EJ Breaks Down TJ Warren

It’s hard not to like his potential as an efficient interior scorer to compliment Phoenix’s bevy of outside gunners. His efficiency (52.5 FG%) at North Carolina State was due to what scouts have dubbed a “unique” ability to simply make lots of buckets around the rim, whether it’s by driving, cutting or quick face-ups just outside the paint.

Again, this guy averaged nearly 25 points a game against elite ACC competition, and he’s ready to play now. Between that and Phoenix getting a good impression from his pre-draft workout, keep an eye on him come Thursday night.

Don’t forget that all these mock drafts could go up in smoke if the Suns pull of a trade involving one or more of their picks. Phoenix will do everything it can to acquire the player it really wants. That includes moving up on the draft board, a possibility McDonough has acknowledged multiple times.

“What we’d consider doing for a certain player is packaging picks and moving up in the draft,” he said.