Alex Len is one possibility for the Suns in the draft this year.
The Suns have a wide array of issues that will have to be dealt with this offseason, but that means they have plenty of options to strongly consider in the draft. The Suns could go for a pure scorer or defensive anchor, and they may be looking at prospects for every single position, even point guard.
Or, in the event that Ryan McDonough does not find the prospect he is looking for in this draft, the Suns always have the option to trade down for another player, trade for an established veteran or try to add more assets and draft picks for the much stronger 2014 draft class.
For now, they're keeping all options open. There is more than one way to rebuild an NBA franchise, and it will be very interesting to see which path the Phoenix Suns choose.
Here are a few options for the Suns to have a very successful draft.
Draft Victor Oladipo
I've spoken about Victor Oladipo several times before, but he is still the team's best option with the fifth pick, unless he happens to be taken before the Suns' selection is up.
Oladipo, the 6'5" guard out of Indiana, is not the go-to scorer that the Suns need. It simply isn't in his nature to score 20 points per game. But it isn't imperative that the Suns find that primary scoring option immediately, and Oladipo still possesses too much talent in other areas to simply pass on him.
Oladipo is quite explosive, and his athleticism allows him to get out in the fast break and perform exciting, emphatic dunks. The Suns have seen attendance dropping in the past few seasons, but Oladipo could bring excitement to the US Airways Center once more with his highlights.
Also, he almost always takes smart shots, as evidenced by his crazy 60 percent field-goal shooting, and his 6.3 rebounds per game average is fantastic for a guard.
For the Suns, Oladipo could be used on offense as a great option to catch and shoot in the corner, do a backdoor cut and finish a play off the pass or thrill the crowd with an exciting alley-oop on a fast-break play.
But what really makes him a potentially special player is his elite defense.
Oladipo led the Big Ten with 2.2 steals per game and a defensive rating of 86.9. He has enough defensive potential to come into the NBA and immediately be a force on the defensive end. If all goes well, he would be contributing on the offensive end while being trusted to take on elite guards at the same time. He could be the Suns' secret weapon for containing James Harden, Dwyane Wade or Kobe Bryant.
Draft Alex Len
If Oladipo has already been taken fourth by the Bobcats, perhaps the Suns should target a defensive-oriented big man. After all, Marcin Gortat has just one more year on his contract, and the Suns could desperately use some defense down low.
Well, with Nerlens Noel almost certainly being taken with the first overall pick, Alex Len could be a fantastic option for the Suns.
In terms of talent, Len has it all. He is a fairly quick and athletic seven-footer who manages to finish around the rim and is praised for a high basketball I.Q. And defensively, he is a fantastic rim protector and pick and roll defender who could potentially be one of the better defensive centers in the NBA.
On the other hand, Len is criticized for his weight and frame. His frame is too thin to allow him to consistently hold deep post position, and lack of strength could affect him both offensively and defensively. Also, at just 19 years old, Len is still a raw prospect who may not fully develop for a few years.
But the Suns are rebuilding, and that means they are not in win-now mode. So long as Len appears to be a sure pick and not another lottery bust, it is fine for the Suns to make a long-term investment on a raw prospect.
Trade Marcin Gortat to the Portland Trail Blazers
Phoenix gets: Meyers Leonard, Joel Freeland, 10th overall pick 2013 Draft
Portland gets: Marcin Gortat
There were trade rumors surrounding Gortat all throughout the NBA trade deadline in February, and now the Suns still have another opportunity to trade him on draft night for additional draft picks.
This doesn't affect the team's fifth overall pick, but it allows Phoenix to have two lottery picks in the same draft, and three first-round picks in total. With that many new rookies on the roster next year, it is hard to image all of them failing at the professional level. This pick just gives Phoenix one more chance to find a building block for the future.
Additionally, Meyers Leonard is a lottery pick from last season who could be a solid backup center in Phoenix. He isn't fantastic, but the Suns could use the youth.
For Portland, this trade is all about finding a defensive center. Center is the weakest position in the NBA, and we all know about the injury history that has plagued that franchise for many years. Now, J.J Hickson is a free agent, and the Blazers could use a replacement.
Gortat is a good defensive anchor, and he is an above-average center in the league. With a starting five that includes Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, rising star Nicolas Batum and now Marcin Gortat, it is hard to imagine Portland not at least fighting for a playoff spot next season.
The Suns could also attempt to trade for an even higher draft pick this year, or they could look for an established veteran. Again, it all depends on the route of rebuilding that they choose to take.