5 Draft Prospects That Would Be a Perfect Fit for the Phoenix Suns
The Suns have a wide array of issues that will have to be dealt with this offseason, both offensively and defensively. However, that also means they have plenty of options to strongly consider in the draft. While the Suns could go for a pure scorer, they may also look for more of a defensive anchor, and they are probably looking at prospects at every single position.
For now, it is not known if GM Ryan McDonough is considering any draft-day trades, such as trading for a higher or lower pick, or grabbing an established veteran. However, it is safe to say that at this point the Suns are keeping all of their options open.
Here are a few options Phoenix might consider in the first round in order to have a very successful draft.
The Suns could certainly use some help down low. Even if Marcin Gortat is not traded, he has just one year remaining on his contract. Veteran Jermaine O'Neal had a great season off the bench and can still be productive, but he is not a long-term solution to the team's problems. That being said, the Suns may target a big man with their first pick.
Nerlens Noel, the best center of this draft class, will almost certainly being taken with the first overall pick. However, Alex Len could be a fantastic option for the Suns.
In terms of talent, Len has it all. He is a quick and athletic seven-footer who manages to finish around the rim and is also constantly praised for a high basketball I.Q.
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. Len blocked 2.1 shots per game at Maryland, which was third in the ACC. He also boasted an impressive 92.5 defensive rating.
On the other hand, Len is also 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 in the NBA. 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. They can afford to allow their draft selections to develop for a few seasons. So long as Len appears to be a sure pick and not another lottery bust, making a long-term investment like this should not be a problem for Phoenix.
Glen Rice Jr.
Glen Rice Jr. was originally thrown off the Georgia Tech team following multiple off-the-court issues and violations.
Rice entered the D-League draft, where he was selected by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and went on to win a title. He averaged 18 points, eight boards and 2.5 assists on 43 percent shooting from downtown in 25 starts before averaging 29 points, 11.5 boards and four assists in the finals.
And now, after being humbled by a stint in the D-League, it appears as if Rice is ready for the NBA.
At 6'6", Rice is a player capable of spending time at either wing position, and he is an all-around fantastic offensive player.
As shown in the video, Rice has a great vertical (measured at 40.5") and has the ability to put his athleticism to use for some ridiculous, high-flying dunks.
Additionally, he has great range and can spot up from downtown or hit the mid-range shot. Rice knocked down 39 percent of his three-point attempts in the D-League, and his great range complements his finishing ability nicely. Rice is not expected to be an isolation scorer, but he is a talented offensive weapon nevertheless.
On the other hand, he has been criticized for his defense. If he puts in more effort defensively, works on staying in front of his man and proves that he can have a high motor on both ends of the court, Rice could be a great player in the NBA. Perhaps not a star, but in the best-case scenario he could certainly be a solid starter at the professional level.
This may be the 10th time I've written about Victor Oladipo, but even now 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. However, it isn't imperative that the Suns find that primary scoring option immediately in this draft class, 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, and there weren't many highlights to please the crowd this past season either. But Oladipo could bring excitement to the US Airways Center once more with his highlight plays.
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 or dunk on a fast-break play.
Another quality that marks him as a potentially special prospect is his fantastic lockdown 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.
He may be one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, joining the ranks of players such as Avery Bradley, Iman Shumpert and Tony Allen. If all goes well, he would be contributing on the offensive end while being trusted to take on elite guards at the same time.
With the last pick of the first round, perhaps the Suns will bring in a fresh face that will be very familiar to both of the Morris twins.
Since playing with Marcus and Markieff Morris as a freshman and sophomore at Kansas, Withey has gone from being a benchwarmer to a first-round draft prospect. He has developed tremendously over the past four years, and now the senior is ready to graduate and join the NBA.
If Withey is still available when the Suns pick at No. 30, he would add some depth down low, which may be necessary if the Suns consider trading Marcin Gortat sometime before his contract expires next summer.
Withey has a fantastic 7'3" wingspan, and he has developed into one of the best post defenders in the NCAA.
On offense, Withey is a great target for point guards on the move, and he thrives in pick-and-roll scenarios. However, his average lower body strength often prevents him from establishing good post position, and he is not a great offensive weapon with his back to the basket.
But on defense, Withey was absolutely fantastic. In 30.9 minutes per game, Withey averaged 3.9 blocks and put up a defensive rating of 83.7. Both of those statistics led the Big 12 in 2012-13.
Withey may not be the future starting center for Phoenix, but at the very least he would be a strong defensive presence to protect the rim and intimidate opposing offenses in a bench role. Drafting Withey could be the first step to drastically improving the team's defense, which has been notoriously dreadful for the past decade.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
After a disappointing sophomore season at Michigan, Tim Hardaway Jr. bounced back to be the Wolverines' second leading scorer this past season. Now, he projects to be a late first-round pick in the upcoming draft and could potentially fall to the Suns.
Hardaway is 6'6", and despite possessing just a 6'7" wingspan, he still has a great frame as well as the athleticism and competitiveness needed to be a capable NBA player.
Offensively, Hardaway should be able to score some points for the Suns. He is fairly reliable when it comes to finishing at the rim and around the basket. He can also attack holes in the defense despite not being a fantastic one-on-one explosive slasher or isolation player, and he can effectively space the floor and get an open look at a jump shot.
However, Hardaway's greatest obstacle will be his inconsistency. When his confidence is high, he can hit shots from nearly any range. However, as we saw in his sophomore season at Michigan (in which he shot just 28 percent from three-point range), Hardaway also is known for less than stellar shot selection, and when he isn't hitting the shots he gets in spot-up situations, the low confidence can throw him off and start a cold streak.
Despite that flaw in his game, he is still a great athlete and a fine prospect. If the Suns are looking for a 2-guard to provide some offense at the end of the first round, Hardaway could be their man.