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Phoenix Suns building reputation for draft workout conditioning test

“How was the run?”

Of all the questions posed over the last few weeks to draft prospects coming through US Airways Center, few have been more prevalent than the one focusing on the Phoenix Suns’ end-of-workout sprints.

General manager Ryan McDonough, head coach Jeff Hornacek and the rest of the Suns’ staff have built up quite a reputation of late regarding their three-minute conditioning test, so much so, that when New Mexico standout Tony Snell visited the team’s practice facility on June 9, he mentioned to reporters that he mentally prepared for the drill after hearing rumors from other players in the Class of 2013.

While the obvious point of the run is to evaluate the prospects’ stamina after a grueling practice, McDonough noted that there’s also a mental element to the exercise.

“We only have a limited window to evaluate these guys,” McDonough said Saturday. “We actually started it in Boston and it’s one of the best ways you can think of to push a guy in a short amount of time.

“It’s a conditioning test physically, but it’s also to see how the guys respond mentally; to see how tough they are and fight through some of the fatigue. I enjoy it, I know they hate it. I enjoy seeing how these guys are willing to fight through some adversity.”

The first-time general manager raved about the effort Saturday’s participants (Steven Adams, Lorenzo Brown, Myck Kabongo, Alex Oriakhi, Mike Muscala and Brandon Paul) put into the drill, saying that it provides the Suns’ brass with excellent insight into how competitive the prospects are when placed in a controlled setting against one another.

“The run at the end, we line them all up alongside each other and just have them go,” said McDonough. “Guys have been going hard for an hour or an hour and 15 minutes in a physical workout and then we ask them to do that at the end of it.

“Most of the guys have been impressive and pushed through it. Some of the guys go on cruise mode and tend to shut down during the run.”

It’s not an end-all, be-all component to the evaluation, but to McDonough, it’s a critical component to the draft process.

“I think that tells you a lot about the player and kind of what you’re getting,” said McDonough. “It’s been my experience that usually if a guy can’t even fake it during a conditioning run at the end of a draft workout that doesn’t bode well for him long term.”