The Phoenix Suns entered the 2013 NBA Draft with three picks and the team left the evening with three new players.
They took Maryland center Alex Len at number five, Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin at 29 and Missouri big man Alex Oriakhi at number 57.
Everyone has their own opinions on how the team fared, and this is a compilation of how some of the bigger-name analysts feel.
The Suns know Marcin Gortat’s days in Phoenix are numbered. Len will be their big man of the future. New GM Ryan McDonough has been on Len since Len was in Europe and has always loved him. I think Noel would’ve been the better pick, but apparently the Suns had concerns about his knee.
The Warriors and Suns swapped picks, and Phoenix got the youngest American player in the draft. John Calipari compared him to a young Russell Westbrook — he’s an elite athlete and a creative finisher. If he could hit a jump shot, he would’ve gone much higher. If the Suns are patient, this could really pay off.
Oriakhi is a warrior in the paint. He’s not much of a scorer, but as a rebounder and defender, he’s a solid pick.
Flush with options with Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore and Alex Len still available, a Phoenix team with needs at every position chose the player most capable of providing low-post scoring. Len showed soft hands and deft footwork in spurts this season, especially during dominant performances against Kentucky in the season-opener and against Duke’s Mason Plumlee during ACC play. What likely caused Cleveland and Charlotte to shy away from him was his inconsistent defense and tendency to disappear for stretches of games, as evidenced by his pedestrian 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Some of that was probably because Maryland’s poor point guard play handcuffed him, but some of it is also a sign he’s still in the early stages of developing as a prospect.
If high school prospects were still eligible to enter the draft, Archie Goodwin might have been a lottery pick last June. That’s why Phoenix is getting good value selecting Goodwin here, even if the guard didn’t have as good a season as expected at Kentucky as a freshman. Goodwin boasts explosive athleticism and excellent size and length for the shooting guard spot, but his shot selection and mechanics need major work. Good thing for him, Phoenix is a rebuilding team that will offer plenty of chances to play through his mistakes.
It wasn’t a surprise that a Missouri player went in the second round of the draft. The shock was that it was Alex Oriakhi and not Phil Pressey who never heard his name called Thursday night. Oriakhi has NBA size and strength at power forward, but it will be an uphill battle for him to carve out a niche in the league.
I’m probably being too harsh on him. But I look at his pick and roll, I look at his strength at the basket, and I look at his upside to what he can possibly be, and I don’t see a dominant player.
This pick winds up in Phoenix via trade. I like this pick a lot. It gives the Suns a significant upgrade on the wing.
Phoenix has to believe Len was the best player available. I’m not sure that’s the case, though. Len does stand to be a long-time pro based on his two-way potential. He moves well for his size and has a bit of a post game, though he’s in no way efficient enough from the block to be counted on as a dependable option. Still, he’s a nice catch-and-finish option with pretty good hands, and he’s tall enough to stress defenses when rolling to the rim. A nice get, but a bit strange given the wealth of talent still on the board.
Goodwin had a disappointing solo season in college at Kentucky, but he could turn into a good pro down the road. He’s very young, but Phoenix is in rebuilding mode anyway, so they have time to let him develop at his more natural shooting guard spot. He has a lot of work to do, but he has some good pedigree and good size with which to work.
Everything we’ve heard from Suns coach Jeff Hornacek emphasizes running and up-tempo basketball, complete with pre-draft workout horror stories. Len escaped Maryland with hopes of joining a team that will bring out his strengths, yet is going to a place where the style of play doesn’t exactly fit with that vision.
On draft haul, which he ranked 29th in the NBA
The Suns drafted three players, and two of them have negative WARP projections. No. 29 pick Archie Goodwin (-0.2) is young enough to have upside, but will have to develop massively after one disappointing year at Kentucky. No. 57 pick Alex Oriakhi (-1.1) is yet another college veteran whose translated performance doesn’t suggest immediate contributions. In the lottery, Phoenix went with Alex Len (0.3) over Noel when both centers were available. Statistically, Noel is the much more impressive prospect.
Gave draft class a B-
The Suns have blown the draft in most recent years, as the names Earl Clark, Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall demonstrate. This year, Suns president Lon Babby hired one of the best scouts in the business, Ryan McDonough, as his new general manager. But the first draft pick of the McDonough era, in some ways, looked a lot like the draft picks the Suns have been making.
Len has upside, but he’s coming off stress-fracture surgery, and in two years at Maryland he showed only flashes of greatness — he rarely could sustain it. Len was the riskiest pick of the consensus top six, and Phoenix passed on two better prospects — Noel and McLemore — to take him.
With the No. 29 pick, things got a little better. The Suns wisely overlooked Goodwin’s so-so freshman performance and saw the potential he has. If he ever gets a jump shot, or learns what a good shot is, he could be special.
As for Oriakhi, I think there were better players on the board, but I can’t quibble too much. At No. 57, there wasn’t going to be a difference-maker, and he does bring length and toughness.