EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Toumani Camara pick in NBA Draft adds more defense to Suns

Jun 22, 2023, 10:30 PM | Updated: 11:51 pm

Toumani Camara #2 of the Dayton Flyers celebrates after defeating Fordham Rams in the second half d...

Toumani Camara #2 of the Dayton Flyers celebrates after defeating Fordham Rams in the second half during the Semifinals of the A10 Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 11, 2023 in New York City. Dayton Flyers defeated the Fordham Rams 78-68. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

With Jordan Goodwin coming over in the Bradley Beal trade and the potential of a few free agents returning for the Phoenix Suns, they added even more defense to the supporting cast through the 52nd pick in the NBA Draft with Dayton’s Toumani Camara.

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie covers this stuff better than just about anyone and ranked Camara 67th overall, painting a fairly simple picture of what the 23-year-old out of Belgium is as a prospect.

It’s easy to sell yourself on a 6-foot-7 player without shoes who has a 7-foot wingspan and plays solid, switchable defense. In the NBA today, there might be no easier player type to sell yourself on. Camara is certainly worth a two-way flier, given his frame, defense and potential to shoot it.

Vecenie puts Camara down size-wise as someone with “essentially a perfect frame” for the modern 4.

The idea with that position in the direction the game is headed in starts with the basic foundation of being able to guard multiple positions as a switchable defender and rebound. Camara’s got that down. In his defensive clips, you can see an ability for Camara to not only defend by sliding his feet but using his chest after that as well. It’s a bonus when strong athletes know how to use their physicality in a basketball sense.

If Camara is given time to load up on two feet and block shots, dude can get up with that length. You can imagine how an athlete like this in the A-10 piled up a few impressive highlights.

Here’s an offensive highlight of that explosiveness. It’s not a quick-twitch dynamic by any means but give him a few steps and he’s launching. Watch out!

 

In the rebounding department, Camara snagged 7.7 a game across his last three years of college, including over two a game on the offensive glass.

The last box to check is the jumper to be a consistent positive contributor at the position. Vecenie notes the 36.3% from 3-point range for Camara this year was an uptick, coming off a 30.3% mark the previous two combined seasons. Free throw shooting numbers can also serve as a fairly reliable indicator, and Camara’s career mark across four years was a troubling 63.1%.

The lefty has a pretty smooth motion all things considered.

Another look:

Ultimately, that’ll swing his chances of making an instant impact. The other areas of the floor are not too promising. Vecenie brings up Camara’s negative assist-to-turnover ratio and how the slashing’s functionality is “essentially a straight-line driver without a ton of burst in terms of first step.” But that’s OK. The other skills are far more important to his overall profile.

Camara, per Vecenie, stood out at the Portsmouth Invitational, a secondary NBA Draft Combine of sorts where lesser prospects go to get assessed in a group setting. Camara was enough of a standout that he later got invited to the actual combine. That’s always a positive.

Given the first impression Vecenie and the video paints, Camara’s adaptability when it comes to picking up NBA defenses will be the biggest thing for him. If concepts and schemes come to him naturally, he’s absolutely shown the talent level on that end to be helpful to a defense, especially with his rebounding. Add on an average 3-point shot and you’ve got a rotation piece.

Knowing that now, it’s a pretty logical pick at this point in the draft, all around. Vecenie ended it well on Camara.

If you’re looking to invest in a draft prospect who could help you sooner rather than later if the shot comes through, Camara is a good one to take a flier on.

That is what the Suns are looking for. After the Beal and Kevin Durant trades, their ability to add any more players this offseason comes down to potentially trading Deandre Ayton, using a $5 million trade exception, signing free agents to the veteran’s minimum and adding two-way contracts. Nailing a second-round pick would be a huge swing.

On the current roster, Camara is the only other wing besides Durant. Ish Wainright’s team option is likely to get picked up and the Suns have Bird rights to retain Torrey Craig. They’ll presumably want Josh Okogie back as well. That’s four defensive-minded wings off the bench, as the identity of the team under head coach Frank Vogel continues to take shape.

Empire of the Suns

Follow @KellanOlson...

Kellan Olson

Valley Suns reopen avenue for development through G League

The Suns have to maximize every possibility for improving their roster and they reopened one of those avenues with a G League franchise.

16 hours ago

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer is introducted on Friday, May 17, 2024....

Kevin Zimmerman

Why Suns coach Mike Budenholzer might do what Frank Vogel couldn’t

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer played to a frustrated fan base. He gave reason to believe why he can do what Frank Vogel didn't.

6 days ago

Jamal Shead, Houston Cougars...

Kevin Zimmerman

NBA Draft Combine: What might pop so far to the Suns

Point guards and 3-and-D wings stood out in the first day of 2024 NBA Draft Combine scrimmages on Tuesday.

8 days ago

Owner Mat Ishbia, Kevin Durant and general manager James Jones of the Phoenix Suns pose for a photo...

Kellan Olson

Suns have lengthy offseason checklist with limited maneuverability

It doesn't appear the Phoenix Suns can blow up their Big 3. So they must improve around the margins with limited trade and draft assets.

10 days ago

Head coach Mike Budenholzer (R) speaks with Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 in a game against the Philade...

Kellan Olson

Mike Budenholzer’s pedigree a match for Suns. Is his accountability?

The Phoenix Suns got the right guy for the job in Mike Budenholzer, as long as he can get through to the locker room.

13 days ago

Head coach Frank Vogel of the Phoenix Suns talks with Devin Booker #1 during the second half of gam...

Kellan Olson

Suns have to hope Frank Vogel’s exit fixes broken team dynamic

If Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal aren't fully bought in with the coach, then what were the Suns doing here?

14 days ago

Toumani Camara pick in NBA Draft adds more defense to Suns