Jimmer Fredette to the Phoenix Suns? It could happen. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

NBA Draft: Jimmer Impressive In Suns Workout, ‘If He's There, It Will Be A Tough Decision'

The NBA Draft will be held on June 23. The Phoenix Suns have the 13th overall pick and Arizona star, Derrick Williams is expected to go in the top few picks.

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NBA Draft: Jimmer Impressive In Suns Workout, ‘If He's There, It Will Be A Tough Decision'

The Phoenix Suns continued to workout out prospects in preparation for the 2011 NBA draft. The big names present for Tuesday's workouts were Penn State point guard Talor Battle, Oakland power forward/center Keith Benson, Washington State power forward DeAngelo Casto, Moorhead State power forward Kenneth Faried, Butler power forward Matt Howard, and Northern Arizona University shooting guard Cameron Jones.

Faried, in particular, caught the eye of Suns director of player personnel John Treloar. The 6'8" big man from Moorehead State led the Eagles to a stunning upset over Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, posting 17 rebounds and ferociously swatting away the Cardinals game-winning shot as the buzzer sounded.

"The guy has a knack for rebounding," Treloar enthusiastically explained. "With his quickness, and his ability to get to his second and third jump, he's going to be able to rebound in the NBA."

Nonetheless, it remains telling that despite the new Tuesday group, one name still lingered on everybody's lips: Jimmer Fredette. The BYU star participated in Monday's workouts and apparently left quite an impression with the Suns' brass.

"Jimmer was great," said Treloar. "We matched him up against a very strong, physical guy in Iman Shumpert yesterday, and it was a war going on in here. Both guys went at it hard, and he handled himself like we expected him to."

While it's no question that Fredette carries with him a particular intrigue, there have been significant rumblings about his inability to play defense at the next level. Though, the Suns do not believe that issue will be too much of a concern.

"His quickness he has, and his strength he has, allows him to stay in front of guys in short spaces," explained Treloar. "In the half-court, I think he's going to be able to guard people."

Suns general manager Lance Blanks glowingly agreed.

"He did what he had to do to win ball games, which he did at a high level. I really don't question much about his abilities. He's shown it at the collegiate level, I've seen it in person.

"High quality, high character guy. He checks all the positive boxes as an NBA point guard," Blanks continued. "Quite frankly if he's there, it will be a tough decision, because he's a very good player."

Another name being thrown around is Texas big man Tristian Thompson. The 6'9" power forward was another participant in Monday's high-profile workout group that also included Kansas' Morris twins, and Florida State's Chris Singleton.

"With his explosiveness and athleticism, and he's got good hands, I think he's going to be able to get better and better," Treloar said of Thompson. "He's got a great first step also, which allows him to get to the basket. I think he's got great upside to him."

Also noteworthy was news that the Suns held a private workout for Spanish League power forward Bismack Biyombo earlier this month. The 6'9", 240 pound 18 year old has scouts raving about his potential to become a monster on the defensive end. Draftexpress.com lists his best case result as a "6-9 Version Of Dwight Howard".

"We sent one of our scouts from here over (to Spain) last week, who met up with our European scout," the new Suns director of player personnel explained. "He's a very raw talent. Tremendous weakside shot-blocker, good defender.

"He's got a great upside, no doubt."

The Suns will continue to workout players as the 2011 draft approaches. Phoenix has the 13th pick in this year's NBA lottery.

Additional Notes:

The Suns front office is hoping to have Colorado guard Alec Burks and Kansas guard Josh Selby in for workouts before June 23rd.

Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry on signing a big man with range: "It's not necessarily a situation where we have to have a guy that spaces out to the three point line. That doesn't have to be the case."

Alvin Gentry remarking on the unfairness of asking him to judge a player that he has only seen for less than an hour long workout: "I don't like commenting on guys when I've seen them workout for 45 minutes. And I think that sometimes is what gets coaches in trouble, as far as picks and things like that.

"To bring a guy in and workout for 45 minutes, and ask me to have an opinion about him as to what he can and can't do, I don't think that makes very good sense to me, because I've been on the other side of it too."

Suns director of player personnel John Treloar on the Suns' need to find a go-to scorer: "I don't think that you're really going to draft a guy in this year's draft that you can say is going to be a go-to guy coming right out of college. Most of those guys that maybe had that ability have gone back to school for another year."


NBA Mock Draft Updates From Chad Ford, Draft Express, Others

The 2011 NBA Draft is just over a week away and the various mock drafts are stating to hone on on their picks. Chad Ford, Draft Express and SB Nation's Tom Ziller all have all (still) have Kyrie Irving going first to the Cleveland Cavalier and Arizona's Derrick Williams going second to the Minnesota Timberwolves. From there, the various 2011 NBA Mock Draft boards start diverging.

This year's draft darling, Jimmer Fredette, is on the board anywhere from seventh (Kings) to 15th (Pacers). Jimmer worked out for the Phoenix Suns this week and, of course, reports being liked. Who doesn't like him?

Twitter / @jimmerfredette: The workout with the suns ...
The workout with the suns was another good one. I think they like me but we will see what happens.

A couple of the mock drafts have the Suns taking Texas forward Tristan Thompson. Kemba Walker is another surprise name but it's difficult to imagine him falling that far. Here's a round up of four 2011 NBA Mock Drafts for the Suns 13th pick.

2011 NBA Mock Draft: Uncertainty Reigns In Final Sprint To Draft Day - SBNation.com
13. Phoenix Suns: Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas Thompson is an interesting fit for Phoenix because he both looks like the anti-Sun in that he's more a defender than scorer, but he's also the type of player who could benefit greatly from a year or two with Steve Nash.

13 *Phoenix Kemba Walker

DraftExpress - NBA Draft, NCAA/International Basketball Website.
13 Suns  Tristan Thompson PF Texas, Freshman

2011 NBA draft: Chad Ford's NBA Mock Draft 4.0 - ESPN
Tristan Thompson. Analysis: The Suns are in that awkward spot between pushing for the playoffs and rebuilding. Lon Babby says the team will be emphasizing defense and Thompson takes them decidedly in that direction.

He is a solid athlete, an excellent rebounder and gives the Suns some desperately needed toughness in the paint. Pair him in the frontcourt with Marcin Gortat and the Suns finally have some swagger. Burks, Fredette and Biyombo are all possibilities here as well.


NBA Draft: Phoenix Suns Not Inclined Towards Picking Wing Player

The Phoenix Suns have the 13th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. On many mock draft boards there are shooting guards and small forwards right around that spot that would potentially be available to the Suns, but given their current roster glut of wing players that might not make much sense. 

Coach Alvin Gentry confirmed that the team wouldn't want to add another player to their roster at a position where they already have so much depth.

"We would try and avoid that," Gentry said after the Suns finished a workout with a group of prospects. "It would have to be a really, really good wing because I like the guys that we have and the guys thats coming back, so that would be something -- it would have to be somebody pretty special."

General Manager Lance Blanks had a slightly different take on it saying, "On the perimeter, we have a surplus of threes (small forwards) but the off-guard position is something that we'd like to inject."

Blanks said the biggest need was getting better and more physical on the front line.

According to Gentry, the team's biggest need as he's expressed to the front office, is a "go-to" player.

"I still think that we need that go-to guy. A guy that we can throw the ball to at the end of games where he can go get us a basket. I think that's asking a lot for Steve (Nash) to do it all the time, screen and rolls and whatever," Gentry said.

He added that the Suns would explore all the avenues for getting a player like he described. That includes the draft, free agency and trades and of course, he admitted, it might not happen.

The Suns will still workout wings over the next week or so. Alec Burks, shooting guard from Colorado; Klay Thompson, shooting guard from Washington State; and Texas small forward Jordan Hamilton are all scheduled to be in Phoenix for a look as are forwards Tristian Thompson and Marcus Morris. The team also has scouted Bismack Biyombo, an 18-year-old forward / center from the Congo who's playing for a team in Spain.

The Suns are still interviewing for a "defensive coordinator" addition to the coaching staff. They've spoken to former Bulls assistant coach Pete Myers and have a few more interviews to do. The goal is to have someone hired before July so they can get a chance to talk to players before a possible lock out.


NBA Mock Draft: Suns Still Liking Soft European Center

SB Nation's latest NBA mock draft is out and the Suns are still projected to make the same selection as last week's mock. With the 13th pick in the draft, the Suns go with Lithuanian center Donatas Montiejunas. The crazy thing is that Montiejunas is not even the first Lithuanian center to come off the board in this draft. That would be Jonas Valenciunas, who goes number eight to the Pistons

For those who still have "Jimmer Fever," you will be sad to note that the BYU guard Jimmer Fredette will be snatched up just before the Suns' selection, being taken by the Utah Jazz at number 12. 

The thing with the Montiejunas pick is that the Suns are already oddly set at center. With Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat, they really have no room for another big guy, especially is Garret Siler returns. Of course, there is plenty of speculation that Lopez has worn out his welcome and will not be a Phoenix Sun come next season. 

Over the course of Suns draft history, I find it interesting that they would go with a guy at that position who has reportedly no defensive skillset to play a position that is is ideally to be the anchor of a team's defense. 

What is interesting is the commentary given in the projection. The writer does not believe he will fall as far as Phoenix as he writes, "I keep dropping him in the mock further than he'll go." 

If that is the case, I'm sure that there will not be many complaints from the Phoenix faithful. 


NBA Mock Draft: Donatas Motiejunas Huge Gamble For Suns

The 2011 NBA Draft is filled with high-risk, high-reward international prospects. They are all big and they are mostly all skilled. They also come with big question marks. Czech small forward Jan Vesely -- not so small at 6-11 -- was once a late lottery prospect but has climbed steadily up the mock draft boards based on his defense and competitive fire. Donatas Montiejunas of Lithuania was once considered a top five pick but has slide steadily down the rankings for the exact opposite reasons that Vesely climbed -- lack of defense and questions about his intensity.

Montiejunas is a 7-foot skilled big who draws comparisons to Andrea Bargnani and even Pau Gasol but he also is thought by some to be the next Yi Jianlian.

For the Phoenix Suns to take Montiejunas with the 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft would be a huge gamble. He would essentially be the inverse of Earl Clark who was drafted with questions about his offense but thought to be a top defensive prospect.

NBA European Draft Prospects: Donatas Motiejunas | NetScouts Basketball
Motiejunas is a legit scoring presence down low that owns a skilled post game, can stretch the floor with his deep shooting range and is capable of putting the ball on the floor and drive his way to the basket. The fact that he’s left-handed also gives him an edge. All of that while standing at seven-feet tall.

Like most 20 year-olds, Motiejunas doesn’t show much interest in playing defense. His lack of upper-body strength and physical play already puts him in a disadvantage but his disinterest makes things worse. He’s a poor rebounder, kind of absurd for somebody with his length (6-foot-11-inches wingspan), and a poor defender overall.

Montiejunas has bounced all over the mock draft boards for the past year or so. Chad Ford has him falling to the Blazers at 21 and Draft Express has him going 12th to the JazzSB Nation has the Suns taking him and you could see where he would be a nice complement to Channing Frye off the bench.

The Suns second unit struggled without Frye's ability to space the floor and offensively, Montiejunas is essentially a Frye clone but with more upside as a post scorer. Frye was also a player once considered "soft" and a defensive liability but with time he's improved that part of his game.

For the Suns to take Montiejunas, they would have to be impressed with his character and desire and believe that with time the 20-year-old could develop enough to handle the physical part of the NBA game. On the flip side, if you are going to draft bench scoring and have the choice between the outside shooting Jimmer Fredette and a guy who can both shoot and score in the post, why not got with the seven-footer.

Bright Side of the Sun explains why the Suns, even in a "bad" draft, can find value with the 13th pick.

2011 NBA Draft: Don't Expect Miracles, But A Rotation Player Can Be Had - Bright Side Of The Sun
This draft IS weak. Let's assume for the purposes of this article that the Suns' #13 pick is the equivalent of a #19 pick in any other year. Six of the top college players have decided to return to school rather than face the uncertainty of a year without basketball: Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones, Tyler Zeller and Nikola Mirotic would all have most likely been lottery picks (top 14). 

So, the Suns are picking the equivalent of latter-third talent in round 1. Can the Suns still get a good player? Of course. Every year there are a few solid starters drafted outside the top 15 picks, though rarely all-stars. Let's just review the past few years, look at some trends amongst the most successful later picks and then see where to go from there.


FILE - In this photo taken Jan. 24, 2009, Lithuanian basketball player Donatas Motiejunas is shown in action in Kaunas, Lithuania. Montiejunas is expected to be picked in the 2010 NBA Draft. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)


NBA Mock Draft: Irving, Williams Top Board, Enes Kanter Rising

The 2011 NBA Draft is just a few weeks away and things are starting to heat up. The Draft Combine in Chicago is over and we now have all the measurements and some interesting reports as well. In most of the 2011 NBA Mock Drafts, Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona's forward Derrick Williams sit on top of the board. Things get more interesting with the third pick which belongs to the Utah Jazz (acquired from the New Jersey Nets in the Deron Williams trade).

SB Nation's Tom Ziller has the Jazz taking the very intriguing Turkish big man, Enes Canter with that pick. The Jazz already have Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors, but Ziller thinks Utah will pass on point guard Brandon Knight from Kentucky and take Kanter. 

In Ziller's scenario, Jefferson ends up getting moved but we should also remember that Millsap was rumored to be on the market at the February Trade Deadline. 

There's not much known about Kanter since he was ruled ineligible to play at Kentucky by the NCAA. There's even rumors out of Chicago that he didn't look good in his workouts.

NBA Combine News, Notes And A Day 2 Primer - Ridiculous Upside
First, though, some original reporting: One person that was in the gym at Attack Athletics sent a text that USC Trojans big man Nikola Vucevic was more impressive than Enes Kanter during Thursday's morning session. Tough to read too much into these workouts, but it's quite impressive that a player projected as an early second round pick is outperforming an early first round pick. 

Here's Ziller's Top 10 picks:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke

2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, F, Arizona

3. Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter, C, Turkey

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania

5. Toronto Raptors: Kemba Walker, PG, UConn

6. Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic

7. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

8. Detroit Pistons: Bismack Biyombo, PF, Democratic Republic Of The Congo

9. Charlotte Bobcats: Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Burks, SG, Colorado


NBA Mock Draft: Chad Ford Has Jimmer Fredette To Phoenix But Suns Said No

In his latest 2011 NBA Mock Draft, ESPN analyst Chad Ford has BYU scoring machine, Jimmer Fredette going to the Phoenix Suns with the 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. There are a couple of big problems with this pick for the Suns that make it highly unlikely he will end up in Arizona. Anything's possible in the NBA Draft and the new Suns front office has no track record to go on, but for Jimmer to end up a Sun two things need to happen.

The first is the Utah Jazz passing on the local star. It is certainly possible that GM Kevin O'Connor has the balls to stand up to public pressure (not to mention pressure from his internal sales folks) and take Chris Singleton. Ford sees Singleton as a defensive replacement for free agent Andrei Kirilenko as a 6-9 small forward who can guard multiple positions.

We'll see. I tend to agree with SB Nation's Tom Ziller who said this about the Jazz' 12th pick:

"You can pry my Jazz-taking-Jimmer prediction from my cold, dead hands."

The second part of this equation is the stated commitment from Suns President Lon Babby to get better defensively. 

In his final press conference of the season, Babby made a point to talk about the need to improve on the defensive end and add size to the team. Jimmer Fredette is the opposite of both things.

Then again, Babby also traded a 6-4, long and athletic guard who could defend both back court positions for Aaron Brooks who can't defend anything. If Brooks, a restricted free agent, does return it's almost impossible to see the Suns taking Fredette. If Brooks doesn't return Babby looks foolish for giving up Orlando's first round pick and the less expensive Goran Dragic for a couple month's rental.

Here's Ford's explanation of the Suns taking Jimmer:

Analysis: I continue to believe Fredette would be a great option for Phoenix. His shooting ability combined with the Suns' free-flowing offense are a very good fit. Fredette's terrible defense raises concerns, but at least he is a fit on a team that has been willing to overlook Steve Nash's weakness in that area for years.

If the Suns do take Jimmer it will speak volumes to the direction the Lon Babby and Lance Blanks front office intend to take the team. It would signify a continuation of the "offense first" mentality that's prevailed in Phoenix and run counter to the defensive culture change Babby says he wants to make.

There will likely be several solid potential back up power forwards on the board at 13. The Suns won't know by June 23 if last year's second round pick Gani Lawal can fill that role so if they are committed to size and defense they would have to look past Jimmer and take the size and defense they think they need.

Besides, who's to say the Suns won't trade their pick and move up in the draft to grab Derrick Williams?


NBA Mock Draft: Derrick Williams Not Fallen Yet, Kyrie Irving A Lock At The Top

The morning after the NBA Draft Lottery is the time when we take our first look at the updated 2011 NBA Mock Draft borads and see what, if anything, has changed now that the draft order is officially locked in place. This is widely considered a poor draft with no obvious super stars and very little chance of even All-Star level talent. That doesn't mean that Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams and Enes Canter won't be an immediate boost to the teams that pick them on June 23.

With the Cleveland Cavalier's dealing yet another blow to the Clippers by winning the lottery with their pick (acquired in the Baron Davis for Mo Williams trade), the top of the draft seems locked in. Almost every expert and certainly all the Mock Drafts we've seen have the Cavs taking Duke point guard Kyrie Irving. He's a solid pick but won't be saving the Cavs franchise like a LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Blake Griffin, but he's the best there is.

After Irving is where things get interesting. Derrick Williams is still listed on the mock draft boards as the second pick but we are already starting to see questions arise. This is more about Minnesota and their needs than it does about Williams. Most agree that he will be a very good NBA player but his ceiling is likely that of a fringe All-Star like David West. The Timberwolves already have an All-Star power forward in Kevin Love and a very talented combo forward in Michael Beasley

It would be surprising if the Timberwolves don't either trade this pick or take a gamble on the talented but untested big man, Enes Kanter. Kanter has very little track record to go by but has a ton of talent and intangibles. He might have the highest bust-boom potential at the top of the draft.

Here's how SB Nation's Tom Ziller sees the top of the 2011 NBA Draft:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Clippers): Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke

2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, F, Arizona

3. Utah Jazz (via New Jersey Nets): Enes Kanter, C, Turkey

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania

5. Toronto Raptors: Kemba Walker, PG, UConn

6. Washington Wizards: Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo

7. Sacramento KingsKawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State

8. Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

9. Charlotte BobcatsMarcus Morris, PF, Kansas

10. Milwaukee BucksAlec Burks, SG, Colorado

11. Golden State WarriorsKenneth Faried, PF/C, Morehead State

12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, SG, BYU

13. Phoenix Suns: Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas

14. Houston RocketsChris Singleton, SF, Florida State

15. Indiana Pacers: Donatas Motiejunas, C, Lithuania


Derrick Williams Trade To The Suns, Here's How

With the NBA Draft lottery now over we can start exploring various trade options with teams at the top of the draft. The Minnesota Timberwolves are already rumored to be willing to entertain offers for their second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. It makes sense given the Timberwolves existing strong core of young players. Adding a Derrick Williams to a front line that already has Kevin Love and Michael Beasley would be foolish. The Phoenix Suns are a team that could and should take a run at that No. 2 pick.

Looking at the Minnesota roster and having seen them play last season, the position they need most help at is small forward. They are also looking for veteran help and on a team with a couple of young hot heads (Michael Beasley and Darko Milicic) they need a high-character guy. 

The Phoenix Suns have a guy that fits both parts of that bill -- Jared Dudley. The Suns and their fans love Dudley but if you want to get the second overall pick and a guy like Derrick Williams you have to give up talent. Dudley's smart defense, floor space, and great passing makes him a perfect fit for the Wolves.

To make the money work, the Wolves would send back Martell Webster who's owed $5.2 million next season and only has $600k guaranteed the following year. The Suns would of course throw in their 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft or if the Wolves don't want that, they could offer a 2012 first round pick.

Another option to sweeten the deal for Minnesota would have the Suns taking on the contract of Nickola Pekovic who is owed roughly $9 million over the next two years before becoming a restricted free agent in 2013. The Suns would send back Robin Lopez who's only got one year left on his rookie deal. 

It might take a bit more to get the second pick, but the Suns certainly should be on the phone with Timberwolves GM David Kahn to figure out what the price to get Derrick Williams would be. 

Williams would be a great fit on the Suns with his ability to play the pick and roll with Steve Nash, space the floor, and rebound. He may not be an elite power forward like Blake Griffin, but he's certainly a player to build around.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 05/18/11 7:41 AM MST ]

After some feedback, it is likely this package wouldn't be enough for Minnesota. The Suns may not have the pieces needed to make a deal but Dudley would be a perfect fit for the Wolves right now and we have to assume there will be phone calls made.


ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 26: Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after a dunk against of the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


NBA Draft: Derrick Williams No Longer Obvious 2nd Pick

The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery wasn't kind to Arizona star Derrick Williams. With the Cleveland Cavaliers getting the first pick, the Minnesota Timberwolves second, and Utah Jazz third, things are very much up in the air for the talented forward who is listed as the second best player on most NBA Mock Draft boards.

Cleveland will kick things off at the June 23rd draft with the obvious selection of Kyrie Irving. There's certainly a chance that during the workouts and interviews that will take place in the next few weeks that Williams could jump over Irving but at this point it's not likely. It's hard to see the Cavs passing on a franchise caliber point guard.

That leaves the Minnesota Timberwolves controlling Williams fate (not an enviable place to be). Common sense would tell us that Williams is a poor fit for the Wolves. They already have a great power forward in Kevin Love and a similarly sized combo three/four in Michael Beasley. 

Beasley and Williams are far too similar in skills and roles but the incumbent from Kansas State is more talented than the rookie from Arizona. It is possible the Wolves could decide that Williams' maturity and character are enough of an upgrade over Beasley that they would take Derrick and find another home for Beasley.

What makes more sense for a young Wolves team is to trade the number two pick and fill their small forward hole with a veteran and pick up some future assets in the process.

Then again, if Minnesota really likes Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker or Enes Kanter they could keep their pick and allow Williams to fall to the Jazz who holds the third pick. Even though they recently acquired Derrick Favors from the Nets, it would be hard to imagine Williams getting past Utah.

It's all very early and we will likely hear plenty of rumors leading up to the draft. One thing for sure, predicting what David Kahn will do in the draft is a losing proposition. 


NBA Mock Draft: Derrick Williams Projected As Top-Two Pick, Destination To Be Decided by Ping-Pong Balls

Derrick Williams is gearing up for the 2011 NBA Draft after two seasons as an Arizona Wildcat. According to ESPN's Chad Ford and his latest mock draft, Williams is projected to be a top-two pick behind only Duke's Kyrie Irving.

Williams impressed in his sophomore year at Arizona, putting up 19.5 points and grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting a ridiculous 59.5%. He led the Wildcats to victories over Texas and Duke in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kemba Walker's Connecticut Huskies in the Elite Eight.

Williams has drawn comparisons to Thaddeus Young and David West with his versatile game. He is always a threat to attack the basket and he can also hit jump shots, evidenced by the increase in his three-point shooting percentage from 25% his freshman year to 57% his sophomore year.

It is up to the ping-pong balls to determine who ends up with the first few picks in this year's draft. Williams' NBA destination will also likely be determined by the distribution of this year's top three picks.


NBA Draft: Derrick Williams Headlines 54-Player Combine, How Tall Is He?

The 2011 NBA Draft will get a lot more information next week as the annual combine is held in Chicago. Unlike last weekend's massive work out held in New Jersey, this combine will gather most of the first round projected picks from Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving to potential second round picks like Isaiah Thomas of Washington. 

In additional to participation, the activites are much different between the two events. Instead of five-on-five work outs that give scouts a chance to get an up-close look at potential draft picks, the combine is about measuring key attributes. From agility test to an official height measurement (with and without shoes), the teams will come out of the May 18-22 knowing much more about the players they will select in the 2011 NBA Draft. 

The measurements we pay close attention to is height and wing span. College teams are notorious for fudging the actual height of their players.

Is Derrick Williams really the 6-8 the Wildcats listed him at or is he really 6-6 as some believe. Even more important, how long are his arms and how high can he jump. As many note, the game of basketball isn't played with the top of the head. How far a player can reach with his hands is much more important.

All these questions and more will be answered in Chicago.

For a full list of combine attendees that you will note doesn't include the big-name European prospects (Jan Vesely, Jonas Valancius, Bismack Biyombo, Donatas Motiejunas), visit Ridiculous Upside.


Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins participates in the standing vertical leap station at the NBA Draft Combine basketball workout Friday, May 21, 2010, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


NBA Mock Draft Has Suns Taking Less Twin, Markieff Morris

There's a set of big man twins in the 2011 NBA Draft so it was only a matter of time before the lesser of the two ended up on a mock draft going to the Phoenix Suns. Robin Lopez was drafted in 2008 by the Suns with the 15th pick overall with his brother Brook going 10th to the Nets. It would be ironic if they did end up picking Markieff Morris with the 13th pick this year.

Of course, as with all mock drafts, this one isn't to be taken too seriously. It's fun to play the "lesser twin" card for a joke or two, but the reality is that we will see many names cycle through the number 13 slot before the 2011 NBA Draft arrives on June 23rd.

Markieff and his brother Marcus played three years for the Kansas Jayhawks. They are 6-9 or 6-10 with wing spans unofficially reported to be around 6-7 which is not the kind of length that makes for a good NBA shot blocker.

Athletic, mobile and high motor is how Markieff is often described. He's shown the ability to step out and knock down mid-range shots which puts him ahead of similar Suns players like Lou Amundson and Gani Lawal. Like those bench players, however, Markieff isn't a polished post player and is better known for his rebounding, energy and defense.

Here's the book on Markieff from the esteemed Draft Express who currently has Morris going 12th to the Jazz and Markieff 13th to the Suns.

Looking at his freshman season alone, Morris seemed bound for a basic catch-and-finish role predicated on hustle and defensive toughness that would have him spending virtually all of his times at the rim or in the paint. His offensive skill set now fills a variety of roles that fit nicely with the ever-increasing versatility of the power forward position on the NBA level.

Defensively, Morris has clearly improved on paper, cutting down on his fouls and rebounding the ball at an impressive rate. However, it is his toughness and the way he takes things personally on the defensive end that are most intriguing. His wingspan won't allow him to be a big factor as a weakside shot blocker, but he's got the mentality to be a solid one-on-one defensive player and a quality area rebounder early in his career.


SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 27: Marcus Morris #22 and Markieff Morris #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks react during the southwest regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Alamodome on March 27, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Virginia Commonwealth defeated Kansas 71-61. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)


NBA Draft 'Combine' Held In New Jersey Includes List Of Interesting Prospects

The NBA doesn't hold formal "Combine" like the NFL does but this weekend (May 7 and May 8) in New Jersey will be the closest thing to it. 44 candidates for the NBA Draft will gather at a facility and spend two days being poked, prodded, measured and most importantly, observed in five-on-five play. 

The players invited to this mass work out are almost all potential second round picks or prospects destined to try and make and a NBA summer league or training camp roster as free agents. This mass workout is not for the projected first round picks who have been better scouted and will be invited by specific teams to work out in private sessions that are limited to six players at a time.

For those players with remaining college eligibility, it's their last opportunity to decide if they want to declare for the 2011 NBA Draft or return to school. The early May 8 NCAA deadline doesn't give these kids much chance to test the waters by working out for NBA teams and getting feedback. Next year, the deadline is even worse -- by mid April "student athletes" will either have to declare for the draft or return to school. The NCAA rules are all designed to help college coaches and in the process make life very difficult for the players.

This year at least, these players who are on the bubble of being drafted will get the chance to play five-on-five against their peers and get some feedback from the NBA scouts and front office executives that attend.

The Phoenix Suns are sending their Director of Player Personnel, John Treloar to check out the talent. Phoenix doesn't have a second round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft but you never know how that might change.

There are no Arizona or Arizona State players on the list of 44 invitees. Isaiah Thomas and his Washington teammate Justin Holliday will participate. Arizona fans know all about Thomas from the Pac-10 Finals game.


LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Isaiah Thomas #2 of the Washington Huskies reacts in overtime while taking on the Arizona Wildcats in the championship game of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Huskies defeated the Wildcats 77-75 in overtime. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)


NBA Mock Draft: Jimmer Fredette Not The Answer To The Suns' Point Guard Question

Chad Ford's lated NBA Mock Draft has the Phoenix Suns taking the Jimmer Fredette with the 13th pick. It's an interesting choice for sure and one that would please many Suns' fans. Jimmer is a cult hero at this point thanks to his scoring prowess at BYU but there are questions about his ability to play a true point guard role at the NBA level.

Fredette was generally considered to be a poor defender in college and is a shoot-first guard who's too small to run out as a starting shooting guard. Think Ben Gordon or to a lesser degree, Eddie House. What Fredette can do really well is shoot the ball and he has a variety of moves around the rim that makes him more than just a long-range bomber.

The Suns could certainly use a guy like that off the bench, especially if Aaron Brooks is allowed to leave in free agency. But if he's brought in with the idea of being the heir apparent to Steve Nash he will join of a long line of guys who've had that label thrust upon them only to see it slide right off.

One thing The Jimmer has that no only prospect in the 2011 NBA Draft can claim is his own song. Teach Me How To Jimmer has nearly 800,000 YouTube hits putting him in Justin Beiber territory as a pop celebrity for young girls.

It's too soon to say if Jimmer would be a bad pick for the Suns. That will depend on who else is available and more so, on what the expectations for him are.


NBA Mock Draft 2011: Derrick Williams Not First, Tristian Thompson To Suns (Yuck)

In what kind of NBA Mock Draft hell does Derrick Williams, stud, Arizona, not go first? The answer is a mock draft that assumes the Minnesota Timberwolves win the NBA Draft Lottery on May 17. Tom Ziller is absolutely correct in his latest NBA Mock Draft in assuming that if the Wolves pick first, they will have to go with Kyrie Irving. That also assumes, however, that the Minnesota Timberwolves make anything approaching a logical choice when history tells us otherwise.

The Phoenix Suns at the 13th spot in the draft, are taking Tristian Thompson from Texas according to Ziller's latest. Thompson, from Texas, was that long guy the that Arizona Wildcats were so worried about in the NCAA Tournament and then held him to three points.

Thompson is an undersized power forward at 6-8 with an impressive, but not incredible 7-2 wing span. He's athletic and intriguing but not very skilled at this point. He's got the body of a small forward but lacks the enough range, handle or passing to play on the perimeter. 

Considered a versatile defender by Draft Express and a decent enough rebounder with raw offensive skills, the player Thompson remind us most of is another guy with the initials "T.T." -- Tyrus Thomas but not as good.

It's early in the process so hopefully some better options emerge for the Suns with the 13th pick.


NBA Mock Draft 2011: Derrick Williams First Pick In Most Mocks Has Final Tucson Party Planned

Arizona forward Derrick Williams has picked himself an agent (Rob Pelinka) and is in the process of saying his farewells in Tucson. According to Williams twitter account, he's going to leaving his college town for awhile. But before he goes and starts the predraft workout circuit, Williams has one final bash planned.

Williams is listed as the top pick in every mock draft except one. Draft Express has the Minnesota Timberwolves passing on Williams to take point guard Kyrie Irving. Here's what some of the experts are saying about the former Wildcat. 

Chad Ford of ESPN calls Williams, "One of the best scorers in the college game, Williams has dramatically improved his jump shot and his ability to attack the basket, making him a threat from anywhere."For his height,

Draft Express talked about Williams shooting form: "Derrick Williams might be one of the best shooters at his position, shooting 56.8% from the three point line on 74 attempts. He is also top six nationally in the two advanced shooting metrics, posting an eFG% of 65.0% (6th nationally) and a TS% of 69.0% (4th nationally). In terms of his form, Williams has a very smooth stroke that is easy to repeat, no matter if he is catching and shooting or taking a shot off of the dribble. He takes off and lands in the same area, and his footwork is very good."

NBADraft.net compares Williams to NBA players Michael Beasley and David West. They had this to say about his weaknesses: :Williams is slightly undersized for a power forward at the next level, lacking great bulk ... He will likely always use speed and length to compensate for a lack of brute strength ... He would really benefit from developing a consistent mid range jump shot ... His face up game would be more effective, and it would add another dimension to his offensive repertoire ... At times, takes him a little too long to execute his move and get off his shot ... Needs to improve vision in the post - when the ball goes down low to him it rarely gets kicked out."

For more information on Williams final party in Tucson to be held on Friday, see the flyer below:



NBA Mock Draft Has Phoenix Suns Taking Shooter Klay Thompson

The NBA Draft is still eight weeks away but we are starting to hear rumblings about the Phoenix Suns conducting their first pre-draft workouts in Phoenix. In years past, the Suns front office was open about who they worked out and welcomed the media in to talk to team personnel staff, coaches and players. It is not yet clear if the new front office team of Lon Babby and Lance Blanks will be so open. 

One draft prospect that will likely get a look from the Suns at some point is Washington State junior shooting guard, Klay Thompson. The latest version of the NBADraft.net 2011 NBA Mock Draft the Suns take Thompson with their 13th pick.

Thompson is a 6-6 guard with a long wing span that helps him make up for average athleticism. Where he excels is shooting the ball. Klay is considered to be the best pure shooter in the draft and has the ability to get off his shot with little space given his quick mechanics and high release point.

It's unclear if the Suns would see a wing shooter as enough of a need to draft this high. On their list of priorities, shooting wasn't mentioned. The team seems to be looking for more size and defense so our feeling is that Thompson won't be wearing a Suns' uniform. Then again, who really knows as this point. Draft Express has Thompson going 19th in their latest mock draft.


NBA Mock Draft Projects Phoenix Suns To Select Donatas Motiejunas From Lithuania

The Phoenix Suns aren’t in the NBA Playoffs, but they are in the NBA Draft Lottery and, in SB Nation’s 2011 NBA mock draft, this means that we get to take a closer look at possible Suns’ draft picks like Lithuanian center Donatas Motiejunas.

Motiejunas is a legitimate 7-footer who is averaging 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18 Eurocup competition this season while playing for Italian team Benetton Treviso. He was also projected as a lottery pick last season, but surprisingly decided to spend another season in Europe.

The scouting reports on Motiejunas indicate that he was a perimeter-based big man, but with some added weight this season, he’s become an inside and outside threat so Draft Express’s best case (Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors) and worst case (Channing Frye!) may not be up to date.

With Channing Frye already under contract next season (for $5.6 million dollars), the probability of the Suns drafting another perimeter based player probably isn’t the most realistic option. Of course, there’s a good chance that Motiejunas stays overseas for a couple of seasons, too — but that doesn’t exactly benefit Phoenix, either.


NBA Draft Lottery Process: How Do Those Ping Pong Balls Work Anyway?

Have you ever wondered exactly how the NBA Draft Lottery works? You might know there's something about ping pong balls and most people understand that teams with the worst records get more chances to "win". Well today is your lucky day (regardless of what day you are reading this, it is still lucky) because we are going to explain exactly how the NBA Draft Lottery works and what that means for the Phoenix Suns.


The first thing to determine is the order in which the teams finished the season. Seeding is a very important factor in this entire lottery process. What we do is take the records of the team and line them up in reverse order from worst to best of the 14 lottery teams.

Here's that list for 2011 (via SB Nation/NBA) along with the odds that each team will win the lottery and get the first pick or a top three pick. We'll explain that more after the list:

No. 1 Pick Top 3 Pick
Timberwolves 25.0% 64.3%
Cavaliers 19.9% 55.8%
Raptors 15.6% 46.9%
Wizards 11.9% 37.8%
Kings 7.6% 25.4%
Jazz (from Nets) 7.5% 25.3%
Pistons 4.3% 15.0%
Cavaliers (from Clippers) 2.8% 10.0%
Bobcats 1.7% 6.1%
Bucks 1.1% 4.0%
Warriors 0.8% 2.9%
Jazz 0.7% 2.5%
Suns 0.6% 2.2%
Rockets 0.5% 1.8%


Ping pong balls and odds

Now that we have our list, each team is assigned a certain number of 1,000 possible permutations. The team with the worst record gets 250 out of 1000 chances (25%) and so on down the line.

The Suns, slotted at the 13 seed, get six winning permutations.

Once the permutations have been randomly assigned to each team, the ping pong balls can spring into action. 14 of them are put in the jumble machine with each ball having a number printed on it (one through 14). When the time comes on May 17, four balls are drawn and the numbers are arranged to match the permutations given.

For you math geeks, here's a more detailed explanation:

To determine the winner, fourteen ping pong balls numbered 1-14 are placed in a standard lottery machine and four balls are randomly selected from the lot. Just as in most traditional lotteries, the order in which the numbers are drawn is not important. That is, 1-2-3-4 is considered to be the same as 4-3-2-1. So although there is a total of 24 (4!) orders in which the balls numbered 1-2-3-4 can be picked, they are all treated as the same outcome. In doing this, the permutation of 4 balls from 14 becomes the combination of 4 balls from 14. That is, the total of 24,024 (14! / 10!, or 14x13x12x11) possible permutations is reduced by a factor of 24, to 1,001 combinations (or 14! / (10! x 4!)). Of these, 1 outcome is disregarded and 1,000 outcomes are distributed among the 14 non-playoff NBA teams. The combination 11-12-13-14 (in any order that those numbers are drawn) is not assigned and it is ignored if drawn; this has never occurred in practice.    

There are three drawings of the balls. The first determines the first overall pick in the draft, the second drawing the second pick and the third drawing the third pick. The 11 teams not selected are put in order based on the original seeding.

As the 13th seed, the Suns have a .006 chance of "winning the lottery" and getting the number one pick and a .007 and .009 chance of getting the second or third seed. They have a 96 percent chance of end up with the 13th overall draft pick. 

Biggest lottery "upsets"

In the history of the draft lottery going back to 1985, two teams won the first pick when they had less than a two percent chance going in.

The Chicago Bulls in 2008 finished the season with the ninth-worst record (33-49) and had 17 out of 1000 chances to win. They won and they got Derrick Rose. Talk about luck.

In 1993 the Orlando Magic finished with the 11th-worst record and turned a 1.52 chance into the first pick. You might remember a guy named Chris Weber who the Magic traded to Golden State for Penny Hardaway and three future first round picks.

On the flip side, only four teams since 1983 who had the worst record in the league won the lottery and ended up with the first pick: 1988 Clippers (Danny Manning); 1990 Nets (Derrick Coleman); 2003 Cavaliers (LeBron James); 2004 Magic (Dwight Howard).


The NBA Draft Lottery will be held on May 17. Suns fans, cross your fingers but for your sanity's sake, just plan on drafting 13th.



Derrick Williams Decision To Leave Arizona For NBA Draft Is The Right Call

It's news that Arizona Wildcats fans must have been expecting but at the same time dreading. Stud forward Derrick Williams has announced that he will sign with an agent and enter his name for selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. Sean Miller certainly would have loved another year coaching the athletic and talented Williams but this is clearly the right move for him.

Williams is projected to go as high as first and no lower than fifth by the various mock drafts. His exact draft location will depend on the order teams pick which won't be known until the May 17 Draft Lottery.

If the Washington Wizards get the first pick they would likely take Williams to replace their talented but problematic forward, Andray Blatche. Having drafted John Wall last year they don't have a need for point guard  Kyrie Irving.

If the Minnesota Timberwolves get the first pick they would be much more likely to take Irving and pass on Williams.

Even if he's not drafted first overall, Williams still stands to make a lot of money. Going back for another year at Arizona couldn't possibly improve his draft status but would subject him to an injury that could cost him a lot of money.

It's been a pleasure watching Williams play for the Wildcats but it's time for him to move on.

Be sure to check out the reaction over at AZ Desert Swarm:

A View From the Zoo: With Williams' Decision, Dominos will Begin to Fall - Arizona Desert Swarm
Derrick Williams is NBA bound and with that, Arizona's basketball off-season is kicked into high gear.  You all knew the scenario; four recruits for one spot.  With Williams leaving, it is now four recruits for two spots, and means that Miller and his staff will only have to convince two current scholarship players to transfer or not be on the team come next season. 


NBA Mock Draft: Phoenix Suns First Mock Pick, Jan Vesely

To kick things off for 2011 NBA Draft season, here's the first SB Nation NBA Mock Draft presented in haiku form by Tom Ziller. With this pick, Tom has the Suns taking Jan Vesely, a very interesting player who was projected to be a top 10 choice last season but opted out of the draft in favor of more seasoning overseas. 

Vesely is a 6-11, 215 pound, small/power forward with incredible athleticism. He will be 21 at the time of the draft with several years of experience on a top European team.

13. Phoenix Suns: Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic

Yan can sprint, and dunk.
Hakim Warrick's Czech brother.
Wait, on second thought ...

Here's what Draft Express says about him:

DraftExpress NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Jan Vesely, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook
From a physical standpoint, Vesely remains the same extremely intriguing athletic specimen. He has terrific size and length for a small forward at 6-11 and couples that with incredible explosiveness. He looks a lot more confident in trying to utilize his athleticism as of late, as he's been responsible for a number of unbelievable dunks this season. He's gaining a reputation for being somewhat of a Blake Griffin-type spectacle at this level, doing things that people just aren't accustomed to seeing in European basketball.

Blake Griffin-type dunks? To the YouTubes!

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