Pre-Draft Workouts Help, But Aren't Whole Picture

Ryan Wolf/Suns.com

In bringing in over 60 draft prospects for workouts, the Suns are completing their evaluation process for possibly the defining day of the offseason.

The workouts themselves, however, are merely the punctuation that finishes a sentence written by a prospect’s pre-NBA career. They can be affirming periods, raise concerning question marks, or serve as exclamation points.

No matter how the workouts go, however, they are still just the tail end of a complete evaluation.

“We try to avoid recency bias,” said Suns General Manger Ryan McDonough. “I think we’re all swayed to some extent by the last thing we saw. We try to go back and look at the course of a guys’ career, especially this past year and see how he did in the games.”

Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek and his staff joined McDonough’s crew in film study as soon as the season concluded. From countless hours of footage, they affirmed mutual interest in several potential draftees.

The workouts are set up as soon as possible to ensure Phoenix gets some one-on-one time with as many of the names on their list as possible. McDonough admitted that players who project higher than where the Suns pick (14th, 18th, 27th, 50th) aren’t always willing to work out, since it’s doubtful they’ll be around by the time Phoenix is on the clock.

“We try to avoid recency bias. I think we’re all swayed to some extent by the last thing we saw. We try to go back and look at the course of a guys’ career, especially this past year and see how he did in the games.”

— Ryan McDonough

“What we’d consider doing for a certain player is packaging picks and moving up in the draft,” McDonough said. “Some agents believe that and might be willing to send their guys. Most agents just say ‘just call us when you have the higher pick and we’ll come in then.’”

Should the Suns move up in the draft – a possibility McDonough has repeatedly acknowledged – the Suns will hardly let the lack of a workout prevent them from drafting a clearly superior talent.

“If there is a guy who’s good enough, we’ll draft him,” he said. “We’d prefer to have him in, but we’re not going to sit here and be foolish or reckless about it and say ‘we absolutely won’t take anybody who [doesn’t] come in.’”

Not that workouts lack any effect whatsoever. As stated previously, they can serve as question marks that cast doubt or exclamation points that dispel any hesitancy to draft the prospect under consideration.

Archie Goodwin was an example of the latter scenario a year ago. The Suns were intrigued by his ability to get to the rim at will in college, but it was his subsequent pre-draft workout that convinced Phoenix to work the phones and ultimately trade up to acquire him.

“We’re trying to get a feel for what they’ve been working on,” McDonough said. “Have they improved? What kind of shape [are they] in? You’d be surprised. The guys come in at different levels of conditioning and readiness for these workouts.”

“Some, you can tell have been doing similar workouts,” he continued. “They’re very well prepared. They come in and kind of nail their workout. Other guys are out of shape or unprepared.”

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