Suns Select Robin Lopez

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital
By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: June 26, 2008

With the 15th overall pick, the Phoenix Suns select… Robin Lopez.

After scads of analysis and discussion leading up to the draft, Suns management whittled down their list of prospects to four, with Lopez being chief among them. The energetic 7-0 center averaged 10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game last season while leading Stanford to the Sweet 16 of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Known for his defensive abilities, Lopez was named to the Pac-10’s All-Defensive Team as a sophomore and finished his collegiate career with the second-most blocks in Stanford history. He also earned Pac-10 Honorable Mention in his second collegiate season.

“We have such great skill players here and I think the one thing that we’ve lacked over the past few years is a tough guy,” Suns President of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Kerr said. “He’s a guy who can get on the floor, get a little crazy, knock people down, take charges, bring energy, create second-chance opportunities and has a motor that doesn't quit."

Lopez had been on the Suns’ radar for some time, but after outplaying other big men that were projected as first-round selections at a Suns individual workout, Phoenix was sold. "He brings a lot of energy and tenacity," Suns Head Coach Terry Porter said. " I’m very excited about adding him to our team."

The former Cardinal believes that he made his breakthrough as a collegiate player in Stanford's dramatic victory over Marquette in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

After Stanford coach Trent Johnson was ejected from the game, Lopez stepped up, collecting 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocks on shooting on 7-of-10 from the floor. But in addition to the brilliance he displayed in that contest, Lopez feels that the intangibles he brings to the table could be what put him over the edge with Kerr and Co.

"I talked to Steve Kerr a couple of times before the draft and after the workouts and he sounded very positive and upbeat about my future as a Phoenix Sun," he said. "I knew I wanted to go there badly so I put my best effort forward and I think I showed that I can bring an interior presence and intensity to them."

The Suns talked with a number of teams about moving up in the draft to land him, but after there were no takers, they decided to stay pat at no. 15. In fact, the main worry the front office had in the war room was whether Lopez would be around by its selection.

But once the Warriors chose Anthony Randolph with the 14th pick, Phoenix knew it had its man. “He was one of the bigs that was very active in the workouts in terms of guarding perimeter players, blocking shots and just his overall energy level,” Porter added.

One of the needs the Suns wanted to address with this draft was adding a young post player to their rotation. With only Shaquille O’Neal, Amaré Stoudemire and Boris Diaw under contract for next year, Lopez can provide energy and defense right out of the gate. In addition, with O’Neal’s, Grant Hill’s and Steve Nash’s contracts expiring over the next couple of seasons, Lopez fills the void of a team looking to address the future by adding a young center that can rebound and defend.

“We’re really excited about the way he can block shots and his ability to guard the pick and roll,” Porter said.

But even more excited than Porter is Lopez, who is ecstatic about beginning his career in the Valley of the Sun. "I was really pleased with the team and the city when I worked out there and I was really hoping that I’d end up there," the rookie said.

Besides a winning franchise, warm climate and amount of activities here in Phoenix, Lopez is hoping to peruse the city's art museum upon arrival. But while he's looking forward to exploring the sights and sounds of his new town, he wanted to assure fans that Phoenix made the right choice.

"Suns fans can expect me to give 110 percent every day, on every rebound, on every blocked shot and show just a lot of passion out on the floor," Lopez said.

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