What Suns Should Do With Fifth Pick
The Phoenix Suns have a new regime in place and they’ve made it clear that they’re going to build through the draft going forward. They are picking fifth in the 2013 NBA Draft and HOOPSWORLD asked some of their writers to weigh in on what the Suns should do with the fifth overall selection:
Draft Ben McLemore
There’s a pretty solid chance that Ben McLemore won’t be on the board when the Phoenix Suns make the fifth overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, because even though neither Cleveland nor Washington has much need for a young, starting shooting guard (both teams spent top-five picks last year drafting precisely that), Orlando and Charlotte both need star power right now. Since McLemore looks like the surest thing in this draft, no one would blame either organization if that’s who they nabbed.
But there is a scenario in which he tumbles a little. If Cleveland takes Nerlens Noel #1, and Orlando opts for Trey Burke, Washington selects Otto Porter, and Charlotte grabs Anthony Bennett, McLemore would fall right into Phoenix’s lap, and while I’d love to try and be persuasive about this, such a scenario would really just come down to a supremely talented player being too good to pass up.
On top of that, Phoenix doesn’t really have complete security at any position, though point guard (Goran Dragic) and center (Marcin Gortat) are probably in the best shape. That being the case, the Suns clearly need intelligent scorers, and they definitely need help at the shooting guard position. Neither Wesley Johnson nor Shannon Brown is ever going to be an All-Star, and considering neither player cracked 11 ppg last year, it’s probably time for a shake-up there.
The Suns wouldn’t need any convincing to draft McLemore if he’s still on the board at #5, and in fact, he very well may have been the player they would’ve taken had they landed the top overall pick. To get him four picks later would be fortuitous, which means all they have to do now is keep their fingers crossed that everybody ahead of them drafts for need rather than select the top talent on the board. If that happens, the Suns could end up with the Rookie of the Year five picks deep in this draft.
- Joel Brigham
Draft Shabazz Muhammad
The Phoenix Suns are in dire need of talent and depth at the shooting guard position, and although it may be a reach, especially based on the amount of negative press he’s received over the past year, Shabazz Muhammad would be a really intriguing fit.
Going into this season, Muhammad was looked at as a potential No. 1 pick. He didn’t produce as expected at UCLA, but he was not as bad as some people make it seem. Seventeen points and five rebounds a game is very respectable. Most prospects would be looked at in a very positive light for those numbers, but Muhammad is held to a higher standard due to how dominant he was in high school.
While most prospects will tell you that their game translates better to the NBA, it should be taken more seriously than usual when Muhammad says it because of the clear track record of UCLA players faring better in the pros than in college. He was taken out of his element a bit in Howland’s disciple-oriented system that was a sharp contrast to what Muhammad was used to in high school and AAU.
Muhammad has ideal size for a shooting guard and should make a smooth transition to the next level. He needs to continue to develop his offensive skill set and become better in isolation and in the pick-and-roll, but defensively he looks ready to defend a position that consists of the league’s top scorers. He’s always been very passionate about his defense, which is something the Suns could greatly benefit from.
The Suns are entering a new era with Jeff Hornacek as their next head coach. There is some young talent on the team worthy of building around, but they definitely need some help at the shooting guard spot and if Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo are off of the board, Muhammad is the next best option. With Muhammad and Goran Dragic in the backcourt, the Suns could be set for many years to come.
- Yannis Koutroupis
Draft Victor Oladipo
If Victor Oladipo is still on the board, he would be the best pick for the Phoenix Suns. Ryan McDonough, the new general manager of the Suns, was hired because he’s an excellent talent evaluator. When he was with the Boston Celtics, he pushed for the drafting of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley among others. Oladipo seems like the type of player that McDonough would draft since he’s a great defender and terrific athlete.
Oladipo is 6’4.25 so he can play shooting guard or small forward, and his 6’9.25 wingspan and incredible athleticism make him even more versatile. If McDonough wants defensive-oriented players, Oladipo would be the perfect piece for the Suns to build around, and he would be great for their culture.
Oladipo may not even be available when the Suns are on the clock, because he has a lot of fans around the NBA. He did well during interviews at the NBA draft combine in Chicago, which helped his draft stock significantly, especially when coupled with his game film, measurements and potential.
One of the main reasons that so many executives have fallen in love with Oladipo is his incredible motor, which was on display on just about every play of his three-year collegiate career. He never seems to run out of energy, which allows him to be active on both ends of the floor throughout the entire game. Oladipo is a coach’s best friend because he never takes plays off and his motor tends to be contagious.
Oladipo is arguably the best perimeter defender in the draft, a skill that should translate seamlessly over to the NBA. Last season, he finished third in steals per 40 minutes among DraftExpress’ top-100 prospects. He’s relentless on the defensive end and uses his athleticism to lock down his opponent as well as play the passing lanes. The Suns would improve their defense very quickly if they draft Oladipo.
Oladipo is one of the most explosive and athletic prospects in the class. He only furthered this notion during the combine, where his vertical leap measured in at 42 inches. He also performed well in the sprint drill (3.25 seconds) and lane agility drill (10.69 seconds).
Oladipo was arguably college basketball’s most improved player from last year to this year, averaging 13.6 points and increasing his shooting percentages significantly to 59.9 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from three-point range. He also averaged 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.2 steals and nearly one block. His field goal percentage was the seventh-highest in the country, which is incredible for a perimeter player. He also passes the advanced analytics test, with the highest effective field goal percentage among DraftExpress’ top-100 prospects and an impressive efficiency rating of 28.9.
At 21 years old, Oladipo still has plenty of upside and room to grow once he reaches the NBA. When the Suns hired McDonough, the organization made it clear that he was their guy because he’s so good at drafting players. Oladipo would be a great first pick for McDonough, if he’s still available.
- Alex Kennedy