In continuing with my NBA Draft review series I'm going to dole out some awards to the Phoenix Suns for specific picks made over the years. What an honor it must be for players such as these just to be nominated.
The rules are pretty simple but know that these awards will be based on a player's accomplishments with the Phoenix Suns. Mark Eaton was a pretty incredible eighth round pick but since he never joined the Suns (or the NBA at the time Phoenix drafted him) - he doesn't count.
First Annual Phoenix Suns Draft Awards:
Best Pick - Steve Nash (1996, 15th overall):
Went back and forth on this one for a while since guys like Shawn Marion, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Walter Davis didn't have to leave Phoenix and come back to enjoy their great success. Even though he spent six seasons with Dallas, Nash has made his NBA career legendary as a Sun. He's a two-time MVP and helped to spawn a whole new era of basketball.
- Amar'e Stoudemire (2002, 9th overall) - Phoenix grabbed Stoudemire out of High School and he proceeded to pay the Suns back with a Rookie of the Year award, five All-Star appearances, one All-NBA 1st team pick, and 3 All-NBA 2nd team picks. An injury to Stoudemire in 2005-2006 and a unfortunate bench leaving situation in the 2007 playoffs prevented the Suns from reaching their full potential.
- Shawn Marion (1999, 9th overall) - Before he whined about his contract for a living he was a multi-talented four-time All-Star that did just about anything you could ask of a forward. He was a two-time All-NBA 3rd team selection.
Worst Pick - William Bedford (1986, 6th overall):
The Suns probably expected better than 50 crappy games when they made this seven foot center from Memphis the sixth overall pick but that's all they got. The next summer they dumped him on Detroit for a 1988 first round pick (which turned into Randolph Keys). He played just 238 career games in a drug addled career. Decent NBA talent like Ron Harper (8th), John Salley (11th), and Dell Curry (16th) went after him.
- Greg Howard (1970, 1st round, 10th overall) - The forward from New Mexico lasted exactly 44 games with the Suns as a rookie before being dealt for a pair of third round picks.
- Corky Calhoun (1972, 1st round, 4th overall) - He was a serviceable Suns reserve for a few seasons, which is only bad when you consider they had to use the fourth pick to get a "serviceable reserve."
- John Shumate (1974, 1st round, 4th overall) - Remember what I said about serviceable reserves with the fourth pick? Well here's another one - except this one got traded for Gar Heard during his rookie year.
Biggest 1st round Steal - Larry Nance (1981, 20th overall):
Nance served kind of a two-fold purpose in the canon of Suns history. (1) he was an excellent player for the team for six and a half seasons where he made the 1985 All-Star game, won the 1984 Dunk Contest, and became a 20 point per game scorer and (2) he was the centerpiece of the deal that brought Kevin Johnson to the Suns and helped rebuild the franchise. Not bad for a guy picked after Jeff Lamp, Darnell Valentine, Kevin Loder, Ray Tolbert, and Mike McGee.
Biggest Whiff - John Stockton (1984, 1st round, 16th overall); Karl Malone (1985, 1st round, 13th overall)
It's a tie. I mean how do you pick between two great Hall of Famers picked three picks after a position the Suns were looking to fill?
Stockton: In the 1984 draft the Suns were coming off a Western Conference Finals berth and were looking to find a point guard in the NBA Draft. They went with Jay Humphries at 13 while the Jazz grabbed Gonzaga's John Stockton at 16. Humphries had a few decent years with the Suns but didn't turn out to be the NBA All-time leader in assists and steals like Stockton.
Malone: Not to be cheated on missing out on 1 half of the famous Utah combo - the Suns missed on both. Phoenix drafted Villanova college hero Ed Pinckney 10th overall since they needed a power forward - Malone was still on the board and went 3 picks later to Utah.
- Scottie Pippen (1987, 1st round, 5th overall) - Phoenix had the second pick in the draft and went with Armen Gilliam. Hall of Fame forward Scottie Pippen went three picks later. That might have changed history a bit, no?
Best 2nd round pick - Jeff Hornacek (1986, 2nd round, 46th overall):
When the Suns picked a 6-3 shooting guard who didn't even average 14 points per game in college there was reason to question their methods. After six seasons with the Suns and an All-Star appearance in 1992, the questions ended. Hornacek was so good that some fans were saddened by his trade although it brought the dynamic Charles Barkley.
Best Post-2nd round pick - Alvin Scott (1977, 7th round, 136th overall):
Scott was a never a star in his eight seasons with the Suns but he served as a key reserve on several 50-win teams in the late 70s and early 80s and played a total of 627 games. Not a bad value for the seventh round.
Best Attempt At Poaching From the ABA - George Gervin (1974, 3rd round, 40th overall):
After two seasons with the Virginia Squires and San Antonio Spurs (including one where he averaged 23.4 points per game), the Suns drafted the young Iceman as he became NBA eligible. Unfortunately they could not convince him to make the leap.
Most Hilarious Pick - Bob Beamon (1969, 15th round, 189th overall):
Yes that Bob Beamon. Fresh off winning a gold medal in the long jump at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City the Suns decided to use a 15th round pick on him. Never mind that he stopped playing basketball after high school. Shockingly he never played with the team - Michael Phelps wishes the draft were still 15 rounds today.
Best Future NBA Referee Pick - Bernie Fryer (1972, 7th round, 109th overall):
OK this was admittedly a small category and Fryer never played for the Suns but he totally qualifies. After retiring from the NBA in 1975 he became an NBA referee for 29 years (finishing up in 2007).
Best Attempt At Ending the Cold War - Georgi Gluchkov (1985, 7th round, 148th overall):
Another tiny category. When the Suns picked Glouchkov out of Bulgaria in 1985 he'd already been a profession since 1976 and was in his mid 20s. He debuted with the Suns in the 1985-86 season and played 49 games - never really making a big impact. After struggling with his weight the Suns shipped him back to Europe before the next season. He was a trail blazer (not of the Portland variety) since he was the first NBA player from the Eastern Bloc.
Worst Brother of an NBA Player - Taylor Griffin (2009, 2nd round, 48th overall):
Best known for being Blake Griffin's brother, Taylor Griffin isn't all that good at basketball. He faced stiff competition from Robin Lopez for this award but at least Robin looks like he belongs on an NBA floor.
Worst Draft Day Trade - Rajon Rondo (2006, 1st round, 21st overall):
He'd be in competition for the biggest first round steal if Mike D'Antoni didn't say he had no use for him. All Rondo's done in his five NBA seasons is make two All-Star games, and crack All-Defensive first team twice. Sure he probably doesn't reach that potential with Steve Nash in his way, but it'd certainly have been nice to try.
Most Likely Draft Pick To Be A Character on Perfect Strangers - Milos Babic (1990, 2nd round, 50th overall):
Babic had a professionl basketball career that ran from 1990 until 2005, he's probably even a high thought of player overseas. Yet when I read his name I just think of him as a crazy cousin of Balki Bartokomous, living in Chicago and driving Cousin Larry crazy.