EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

NBA Draft Combine: TCU G Desmond Bane cites interest from Suns

Oct 1, 2020, 2:47 PM

Desmond Bane #1 of the TCU Horned Frogs brings the ball up the court against the Clemson Tigers dur...

Desmond Bane #1 of the TCU Horned Frogs brings the ball up the court against the Clemson Tigers during the MGM Resorts Main Event basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on November 24, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Tigers defeated the Horned Frogs 62-60 in overtime. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

As you might expect, the 2020 NBA Draft Combine is a weird one. With a draft date finally set in mid-November, the most unique pre-draft process can officially begin.

The two-week combine kicked off on Monday with Zoom media availabilities for 15 of the prospects, and will continue with team interviews, athletic testing and more. That includes a “Pro Day” style video the players can film of up to 45 minutes with a trainer, but those can also be set up away from the combine.

So, for the high-level prospects, there’s not much for them to get out of this. And pretty much all of it can be done from the prospects’ home base these days. To no surprise, several top names passed on the event.

That’s no Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Onyeka Okongwu, Obi Toppin, Kira Lewis Jr., Devin Vassell or Patrick Williams, to name a few. LaMelo Ball spoke with reporters and the league, but dipped on out before interviews with teams and on-the-court stuff got underway, per Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo.

A few top prospects did speak, though, and some outside the top-10 that are interesting names to monitor. The Suns don’t have a second-round pick, which is something to keep in mind in terms of the discourse in this space.

Bubble first-rounders like Desmond Bane, Zeke Nnaji and Jalen Smith mentioned talking with 20-plus teams already, and the Suns were included. Based on a loose interpretation of what those guys said, it sounds like there was a mass interview process for some guys that are outside the top-10.

Some highly ranked names like Ball, Tyrese Haliburton and Deni Avdija didn’t have team conversations to disclose, and those are likely to happen in the next two weeks of the combine, and beyond.

Bane is someone to spotlight, as he mentioned his agent noting the Suns as one of the three teams that they believe are the most interested in him.

“I love the idea of Phoenix,” Bane said Wednesday. “I had a long, nice conversation with (general manager) James Jones.

“He’s one of those guys that was really high IQ, knew his role on the team, could shoot the ball — brings a lot of similar qualities that I do to a team. I feel like I bring toughness, IQ on both ends of the floor and shot-making.

“You pair me with guys like Devin Booker and (Deandre) Ayton, who draws a lot of attention, and there’s a lot of open shots.”

Bane was a four-year player at TCU, is the best shooter in the draft and spoke with the Suns when he tested the draft waters last year before coming back to school.

Those first two points certainly line up with what Jones drafted in 2019, and remember, Cam Johnson was ranked in a similar spot as Bane. That type of “reach” doesn’t scare the Suns, who own the 10th pick in this draft.

The 6-foot-6 Bane shot 43.3% from three-point range over his time in college, and 44.2% on 6.5 attempts a game as a senior.

He’s quite a similar prospect to Johnson beyond the shooting, as the primary concerns for him are his speed off the dribble on offense and then his ability to contain it defensively. That and the lack of a “ceiling” has him ranked in the 20-45 range on most big boards.

While Johnson is a wing who played at forward for the Suns, Bane would slot in as more of a guard, a spot he averaged nearly four assists a game at last season.

Bane’s far more of a secondary ball-handler and got into that more just this past season, but can get some things done there.

He has a skip pass to the corner in his arsenal already.

Beyond the shooting and high IQ, Bane possesses the work rate the Suns desire as well. While the on-ball defense is troubling and could present issues, Bane is engaged and working off it. That toughness he mentions and this type of team defense make him an ideal “small ball” type of guard.

The Suns link goes well beyond Bane just mentioning the team and a conversation with Jones.

If Phoenix goes in a certain direction this offseason without signing a decently-sized name at power forward, they’ll have some wing minutes to fill at the three spots outside of point guard and center behind Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Johnson.

There’s also the chance Phoenix deals Oubre with one year left on his contract before unrestricted free agency, and that opens up even more minutes. Despite the Suns having “enough” wings, can you really have “enough” wings right now in the NBA, especially while adding a second high-level shooter to the mix?

On top of that, it’s hard to find the boxes Bane doesn’t check on what Jones has said he looks for in players. Bane is a name to keep an eye on over the next six weeks.

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