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NBA Draft: Suns GM Lance Blanks Talks Shumpert, Jimmer, Gortat Trade Rumors

As the days wind down until Thursday's NBA draft, the activity within the Phoenix Suns front office is just beginning to heat up. Yet, with the heavy influx of mock drafts, player evaluations, and bogus trades rumors thrown towards the public, it gets difficult to wade through the morsels and find a legitimate meal. This sentiment is only compounded by the fact that this draft may be the most hard to pin down of the last decade.

"One of the challenges about ranking this draft is there is not as much clarity in terms of who is going to pick when," explained Suns general manager Lance Blanks during Tuesday's pre-draft media session. "I think the player (picked at) at 15 could be as good, if not better, than the player at 10. From all of my research, it looks like this draft is going to be fairly deep, and hopefully you're one of the teams that gets the right guy that aligns with your organization."

The name Suns fans may have been surprised to hear lately is Iman Shumpert, the hyper-athletic 6'6" guard out of Georgia Tech. Recent reports indicate that the Suns may be much higher on the Yellow Jacket than most. lists the 20-year old as a likely late-first round, early-second round pick, but rumors say the Suns are looking at him with the 13th pick.

"He's a combo guard, that can play both the one and the two," said Suns director of player personnel John Treloar. "He's at the top of the list athletically in the draft."

"I think he can defend really well," GM Lance Blanks elaborated. "Probably not the greatest shooting percentages from three and such, but some of that might be a function of not (having) the best shooting selection."

Without question, the biggest knock on Shumpert is his strangely poor shot selection. In his last year at Georgia Tech, the guard averaged 14.1 shots per game, while converting only 5.7 of them successfully, for a 40.6 field goal percentage. To extrapolate, almost 68% of his shot attempts were jump-shots, yet he sunk them at an alarmingly-low 28.4% rate. Further making matters worse, Shumpert converted a dreadful 19.5% of his shots when pulling up off the dribble.

Of course, throughout all this, Jimmer-Mania continues to swirl around the valley, as some fans have already tabbed the BYU standout as the Suns' point guard of the future. Certainly it does seem as though stars twinkle in the front office's eyes when the idea is brought up.

"He's fun to watch, and he was very impressive in the workout he had here. He has a confidence and a swagger about him that is very unique," Blanks reverently remarked. "I don't want to overstate it, but he's high character, and given the right opportunity and the right situation, he's going to figure it out."

No doubt the Suns have given all indications throughout the past few weeks that Jimmer is near the top of their draft boards. Yet, for a team that continues to preach an organizational shift towards a defensive mentality, the decision to nab Fredette -- a player infamous for his defensive shortcomings -- seems counterproductive.

Blanks understands the sentiment, but disagrees with definitive nature of it.

"It's an entire game, and there has to be balance," he explained. "Defense is very important. But it's a sliding scale. There may be an offensive player that seems more worthy of being a part of this organization.

"I don't want us to go out and draft Jimmer, and (the public) thinks we were dishonest or misleading," he continued. "You've got to play an entire game, both sides of the floor, we feel, in order to be competitive in this league."

Also flooding Phoenix news feeds recently have been rumors of a Marcin Gortat deal to Minnesota that would result in the Suns receiving the #2 pick in the draft. Blanks would neither confirm nor deny the discussions.

"It's speculation," he said. "It's obviously founded speculation, but that's part of the business.

"We're going to build the best team we can. We love Marcin Gortat, and hope that he's a part of our core going forward for a long time," Blanks finished.

The 2011 NBA Draft will be held Thursday at 5:30 MST on ESPN. The Phoenix Suns hold the thirteenth pick in this year's lottery.

Additional notes:

Suns general manager Lance Blanks on where he feels the Suns will look improve: "We need to get better up front, maybe bulkier and stronger. Some wing scoring could be helpful. After that, it's a little bit of a sliding scale. If a player is really good and he plays the three, then we'll do that. Or the five. Whatever the case may be."

"We've (also) got to figure out the back-up point guard situation."

Blanks on rumblings that this is a weak draft: "I think this is a deep draft, and you do have players that are going to be able to impact rosters around the league."

Blanks on whether the Suns should aim to draft for potential or immediate impact: "In a perfect world you'd like to draft both a guy that has shown some shown performance throughout the season, but also, may be on a trajectory where he is showing some potential to be good for the organization."

"I'd like to believe, assuming we keep this pick, that we'll have an opportunity to get a player that can help this organization."