EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Matthews, Mann bring defense to Suns’ 2nd day of pre-draft workouts

May 31, 2019, 2:06 PM
(AP Photos)...
(AP Photos)
(AP Photos)

PHOENIX — Certain pre-draft workout groups can shape and form a certain identity based on the personnel involved.

On the Phoenix Suns’ second day of them Friday, the first group included Michigan wing Charles Matthews and Florida State wing Terance Mann.

Matthews and Mann terrorize ball-handlers with their length and activity level defensively. Guard Alex Robinson out of TCU had a cut on his arm from the workout and said the Suns staff informed them this was their most intense workout yet.

It was no surprise to hear Suns general manager James Jones say the selections were a group more emphasized on defense and wings.

Those tidbits are not hard to believe given the energy Matthews and Mann bring.

Matthews, in particular, has already ruined a workout for a skilled guard in this process.

He’s one of the best defenders in the draft and was actually willing to go beyond that.

“I feel like I’m the best defender in this draft so I just try to showcase that,” he said.

Where Matthews lands on the spectrum physically is interesting. He’s 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, so he can guard some 4s in certain situations, and his quickness on guards/ball-handlers is tantalizing.

Take a look at how he made the NBA Combine’s scrimmage less than pleasing to participate in for a few different ball-handlers.

He passes the test off-ball as well. This is the way to individually impact a game defensively. He checks a box few can in his explosiveness vertically translating to explosive movements laterally.

Like many guys in this range of the draft, Matthews needs to figure out how to add value offensively to stay on the floor. He’s not much of a playmaker off the bounce, so the easiest way for him to do that is shooting.

Matthews shot 31% on over 2.5 attempts from three-point range a game in his last two seasons for the Wolverines.

That’s where Mann steps in. While a notch or two lower on the athletic freak scale than Matthews, Mann’s got a bit more to his handle and overall playmaking package at a similar size.

“My high IQ, ability to playmake,” Mann said of his best skills to translate.

You saw his instincts flash in a positive way when you look back on film.

ESPN currently has Mann ranked No. 71 while Matthews is 53rd.

Whether it’s with the Suns’ 32nd pick in the draft or, more likely, as a potential two-way contract or undrafted free agent pickup, Mann and Matthews fit in exactly with the way the league is trending defensively.

Either player would fit right in with what the Suns are doing in that department on the wing with Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson and Kelly Oubre Jr.

“I feel comfortable guarding 1-4 at any time,” Mann said. “That’s just what I do. I come from Florida State where defense is a priority.”

“You have to be able to guard to win,” Matthews said.

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