With the 13th pick the Phoenix Suns select...
And with the 13th selection in the 2011 NBA draft the Phoenix Suns select -------. Ok before we get to that pick let's go over some scenarios because there are several players the Suns like and would be happy drafting.
First and foremost they need help at power forward in the worst way. Markieff Morris from Kansas makes a lot of sense. Second, they would love to find a point guard that could allow Steve Nash to spend a few more minutes on the bench and possibly be the heir apparent should the former two-time MVP play out the final year of his contract and bolt in free agency.
There are a few point guards that could be there at 13, including BYU's Jimmer Fredette. But Jimmer will not be the pick here, he can't be. Not if the Suns want to maintain any semblance of credibility. Reason being is that Phoenix is now preaching defense. General manager Lance Blanks is the man in charge and he intends to make his mark on this franchise by bringing some hard nosed in your face defense to the US Airways Center. Heck the Suns are even going to be hiring a defensive coordinator so they can improve their defensive efficiency in hopes of winning a few extra games with a new emphasis on playing some D.
So the last thing you can do when you are selling defense to anyone that will listen is draft a player in Jimmer who can't play any defense. Ditto for Washington State's Klay Thompson. So take those two out of the mix. Jimmer will not be a Sun simply because it goes against everything the Suns are selling these days. And I'm perfectly fine with that because I am one who believes that the BYU standout will not be a great player at the next level and will likely just be a role player.
Who does fit that bill as a tough, defensive minded point guard that could be there at 13? It's Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert. He impressed at the workout in Phoenix a few weeks ago and was a well kept secret until Monday when we let the world know he could be the Suns pick. So barring some unforseen star like Tristin Thompson falling to them at 13, the pick will likely come down to Morris or Shumpert.
Morris can play right away and fill the need at power forward. He is 6-10, 240 and averaged 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Jayhawks this year. He would fill a position of need immediately in Phoenix and could be a nice role player on the current roster
Shumpert is intriguing, he really is. Sure, he wasn't projected to go in the first round of many experts mock drafts. But that doesn't mean anything. If you like a player you draft him. It doesn't matter if he is projected at 20 or 25 or 35. If you have the 13th pick and that's the player you like then grab him and to hell with everyone else. It's your draft, do what you think is best.
Shumpert fits the Lance Blanks philosophy perfectly. He is a 6-foot-5 lockdown defender with great anticipation, therefore he comes up with a lot of steals. He is very good in the pick and roll game, very good in transition with speed and he can guard both point guards and shooting guards. He also brings something this team needs -- toughness. No he can not shoot. Not yet anyway. And that may be an issue to start.
But in this era of the great point guards, wouldn't it be wise to draft a player that can actually guard those guys. The position is loaded with talent in Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Brandon Jennings, Tony Parker and a few others. Those players are extremely difficult to guard. If Shumpert is the great defender he is made out to be then how much better is Phoenix having somebody to lock up with that array of talent?
What Phoenix needs to understand is that hiring a new defensive coordinator alone is not enough to make a difference in how the Suns play defense. They need the personnel to actually execute it. Look at Memphis and how good their turn-around was defensively from last year to this year. They improved form 24th in the league, giving up 104 points per game, to 13th in the league giving up 97.6 points per game. Did they hire a defensive coordinator? No. What they did was got better defensive players, including signing lockdown defender Tony Allen as a free agent and trading for Shane Battier. Better defensive players mean better defensive team. It has little to do with coaching and everything to do with the players. So if Phoenix wants to get better defensively then Shumpert makes sense.
The Suns may be split on which player to take. Morris fills an immediate need, Shumpert doesn't. Shumpert has more upside and intrigue than Morris. The fans would like the Morris pick because he went to Kansas, they have seen him play and they know he's pretty good. They know nothing about Shumpert because he played on a bad Georgia Tech team. Morris seems like a good fit at 13, Shumpert looks like a reach at 13.
So with the 13th pick in the draft -- again barring some unforeseen drop by a player projected to go top 10 -- the Phoenix Suns will select -- Iman Shumpert, point guard, Georgia Tech.