Suns Take TJ Warren With 14th Pick

Photo property of North Carolina State Athletics
by Matt Petersen

The Suns wasted no time snapping up TJ Warren with the 14th pick, their first of three first-round selections in the 2014 NBA Draft.

The 6-8 swingman out of North Carolina State impressed scouts in general and Phoenix specifically with his elite ability to score around the rim. 

Warren was named the 2014 ACC Player of the Year after leading N.C. State with averages of 24.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest while shooting 52.5 percent from the field

Warren worked out for Phoenix on June 5 and was invited back for a second, private workout closer to the draft. He convinced the Suns' front office in that span that opponents will have a hard time game-planning for his particular skill set.

"He’s got that unique skill of scoring,” said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. “Watching tape, he’s kind of methodical-looking, but because of that he knows the great positions. When he makes a move and he sees the opening, then he explodes. He had a couple finishes today where he got hacked pretty good and still was able to be strong enough to finish it off.”

Warren should provide some scoring punch at small forward, though it will come in a different look compared to P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green or Marcus Morris. He made 74 percent of his shots in the restricted area.

To put that in perspective, only LeBron James, Al Horford, Kevin Durant and Brandan Wright converted more than 74 percent of his shots in the restricted area this season.

Warren anticipates a smooth transition into the Suns' uptempo system after using his combination of speed and power to get the jump on opponents at N.C. State.

"I know their style of play. They like to get up and down, get transition buckets," he said. "They’re going to push the tempo up a little bit. I feel like my style of play really fits that."

"I'll be able to get out in transition, score at a high rate, as well as defend," Warren said in his earlier workout in Phoenix. "Just do the little things that stick out and play."

While his work on the offensive end was not a concern, Warren wanted to make a point that his presence would also be felt on the other end.

"I just wanted to show that I could defend at a high level as well as provide offense the way I do," he said.

It appears he did just that and may have surprised some of the Suns' staff in the process.

"The question for him isn’t the scoring part of it, it’s the defense,” Hornacek said. “I thought he did a great job defensively, getting his hands on the ball. He was better than I anticipated from watching tape and that kind of stuff.”


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