Suns GM Blanks Addresses Upcoming Draft

By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: June 4, 2012

With the 2012 NBA Draft beginning to appear on the horizon, Suns GM Lance Blanks held a lunch for the Phoenix media, giving reporters a sneak peek into how the Suns are preparing for their lone first-round pick.

Blanks has been busy spearheading the operation that is responsible for selecting the No. 13 overall pick in the upcoming draft. In fact, after the lunch concluded, the Suns GM was headed to the 2012 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago to get his first opportunity to sit down and visit with players.

All of this work is building towards draft night on June 28 in Newark, NJ.

“We’ve got to get better and we know that,” Blanks said. “And we’re excited to do it. And we’ve been in the process of evaluating everything that we do as a front office.”

As a team that just missed making the playoffs, the Suns find themselves picking in the middle of the first round, which is a position from which Phoenix has traditionally drafted well. Dan Majerle and Steve Nash are two players that have been selected in that section of the draft, while Markieff Morris was just taken at No. 13 last season.

“We’re extremely excited about this current pool of players,” Blanks said. “At our pick you have a great chance to get a great player. We’re excited about what happened last year with Markieff.”

Although the Suns’ chief player evaluator wouldn’t go into detail, Blanks stated that the franchise was looking to add some youth on the perimeter: whether that would be at point guard, shooting guard or small forward. In order to help him make this selection and evaluate the prospects properly, Blanks has surrounded himself with an analytics team, psychological screeners and a nationwide network of scouts.

This assembled team of scouts, evaluators, coaches and consultants analyze which players make sense for the Suns as an organization. Then, his group travels to see them in person, whether it is at the combine or at a hosted pre-draft workout. Lastly, there is the interview process with the players, which Blanks claims takes up the most time of everything in the evaluation process.

In this draft class, Blanks believes there are “potential game-changers” on the wing, but that the frontcourt prospects are ripe with talent.

“You have guys that can change the face of an organization (in the front court),” he said. “Maybe not in the first year, but years two, three or four years from now.”

Blanks has remained open to using the pick to move up or acquire talent, but admitted that the team will most likely keep it. According to the second-year GM, the organization has allotted more resources towards ensuring that the front office has everything necessary to make the team competitive.

Scouts have been added to scour the professional and collegiate ranks for prospects, while an additional investment has been made in the area of player development. In fact, former NBA player Lindsey Hunter has been promoted to serve as a resource in that area of the organization.

But the advantages of player development won’t kick in until that new player is drafted, which Blanks seems very confident about. He’s just not naming any names.

“From this pool of players, we will get a very good player at that pick, either at the perimeter or up front,” Blanks said. “But whatever their names are, we can talk about that once we get closer.”

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