Winning 48 games and exceeding all expectations is never a bad problem to have.
Even if it comes at the cost of slowing down the developmental process for the most-recent, first-round picks.
That’s the situation the Phoenix Suns found themselves in for all of 2013-14, as Alex Len and Archie Goodwin were reduced to cheerleaders rather than supporting cast members, because postseason contention became the primary goal — even more so than player development.
So with the Suns guaranteed to have at least three more first-round picks in the upcoming draft, the question becomes how does general manager Ryan McDonough balance the development of Goodwin and Len with the crop of draftees soon to enter the fold.
Truth be told, he doesn’t.
“I think it’s unlikely we bring in three rookies to the Suns next year,” McDonough said at Friday’s season-ending press conference. “We obviously have Alex and Archie, who we are high on. With the success that we had this year, it’s a good problem to have. But, it’s tough to develop rookies and also try to win a lot of games.
“If you look at the rookies this year, the guys that will be first-team All-Rookie or the Rookie of the Year candidates, most of those guys are on teams that were towards the bottom of the league. It’s hard to do both, unless it’s a special, special rookie that can get playing time and help you win.”
Although the draft lottery on May 20 will ultimately decide whether Phoenix holds the 14th pick along with the 18th and 27th ones acquired in trades with the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards, McDonough admitted that the front office already has plans to exchange a selection or two with the goal of either acquiring a star or creating future flexibility.
“Our preference would be, as I said when I arrived, to trade for a star if we can do that,” said McDonough. “We feel like we’ve traded for some pretty good players in Eric [Bledsoe] and Miles [Plumlee]. Gerald Green also played a big role for us this year. But, we’re going to continue to explore the trade market.
“I think, though, if we do go in with the 14th, the 18th and 27th pick, that it’s unlikely we draft three guys and bring them to the Suns. The options are packaging them for a veteran player, packaging them to move up, we could draft a European player or two and leave them overseas or we could trade our pick for future picks and spread them out.”
The Suns have a 1.8 percent chance of making it into the top 3 of the 2014 NBA Draft. If they manage to pull off the unlikely jump, the Minnesota Timberwolves would essentially move back a spot to the No. 14 pick — which would go to Phoenix as a result of the July 2012 trade involving Robin Lopez and Wesley Johnson.