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ESPN’s Chad Ford: Marquese Chriss could be a bigger Shawn Marion

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, left, stands with forward Marquese Chriss during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Mount St. Mary's, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, in Seattle. Chriss had 29 points as Washington won 100-67. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

LISTEN: Chad Ford, ESPN NBA Draft Insider

Comparing any player to A’mare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion should get Phoenix Suns fans excited.

But what if the Suns go a different direction in the draft?

Two of the top three players mentioned most in our NBA 2016 Mock Draft Tracker are Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss.

ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford joined Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM to discuss who he thinks the Suns should take with the fourth pick.

“I think those are the two guys that they should consider,” Ford said. “They have a huge hole at the four ever since they moved Markieff Morris. Both of those guys are modern-NBA power forwards in their ability to not only play inside, but be able to step out and shoot the three. I think this decision comes down to the Suns on how patient are they willing to be? If they’re willing to be patient, Marquese Chriss is one of the best freakiest athletes I’ve ever seen at (six-feet 10-inches). You guys are used to A’mare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion? You guys are going to see this guy and go, ‘Wow,’ and even after seeing those guys, he’s that.”

Chriss played just one year at the University of Washington, where he averaged 13.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He also put up four 20-point games and was named an honorable mention on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.

“But he’s 18,” Ford said. “He’s a bit immature. He’s got some real basketball skills, but the learning curve there is going to be pretty big. He’s not going to be ready to come in and really dominate the game day one. You’re going to have to be patient, but the payoff could be huge for him. I’ve heard some scouts compare him to a bigger Shawn Marion, and I think he has that ability at the next level. But there’s a lot of work to do there.”

The other option that Ford thinks could be a good fit for the Suns is the 7-foot one-inch post out of Croatia. Bender has played professionally overseas for years, and is widely considered to be the choice for the Suns at No. 4, according to the Mock Draft Tracker.

Ford thinks that if the Suns go with Bender, “he’ll make a bigger impact in year one for Phoenix.”

“Bender I actually think is more ready,” Ford said. “He’s already a better shooter, I think he’s a better defender, I think he rebounds and he has a great motor. It’s just that athletically, he’s just OK. He’s not an explosive athlete. He moves pretty well laterally, vertically he’s not that great. and he’s not that particularly long, and length matters in the NBA. So, you have a guy that I think is more skilled and has a higher basketball IQ.

“But I think when you’re at number four, you have to take the guy that’s going to be the best player in three to five years and not the best player in year one, and I think that’s Marquese Chriss.”

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