Monday, October 20, 2008

What I Think Series: What Becometh Of The Phoenix Suns Draft Picks?


Annually, the NBA Draft brings together the best crop of collegiate and international talent into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Prior to this momentous occasion wherein young aspirants take their first step to earning millions of dollars, NBA teams spend months and sometimes years scouting and assessing talent across the United States, Europe, and even Asia.

Some teams have a knack for assessing good talent like the Golden State Warriors (Latrell Sprewell 24th pick in 92’; Gilbert Arenas 30th in the first round of 01’; and Monta Ellis 40th selection in 05’) and San Antonio Spurs (Manu Ginobili 57th 2nd round pick in 99’ and Tony Parker 29th selection in 01’).

Another team with what I would like to call, “a great draft sense” (along with superior scouting and assessment skills) is the Phoenix Suns. They were able to draft a number of solid NBA players over the last 20 years (“Thunder” Dan Majerle (1st rd; 14th overall in 88’); Steve Kerr (2nd rd; 50th overall in 88’); Former New Jersey Nets’ All-Star F/C Jayson Williams (1st rd; 21st overall in 90’); Cedric Ceballos (2nd round; 48th overall in 90’); Michael Finley (1st rd; 21st overall in 95’); 2-time MVP Stephen John Nash (1st rd; 15th overall in 96’); their lone choice the following year named Stephen Jackson (2nd rd; 42nd overall in 97’); Shawn Marion (1st rd; 9th overall in 99’); Amare Stoudemire (1st rd; 9th overall in 02’); traded for San Antonio Spurs draft choice Brazil’s Leandrino Barbosa (1st rd; 28th pick in 03’).

Not bad right?

Well, with “new” Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver’s mandate to tighten his squads spending, first round draft picks since 04’ were traded elsewhere in order to avoid paying them since 1st round picks are guaranteed a two-year rookie deal under the new NBA collective bargaining agreement.

From 2004-2007, there are the players that the Suns virtually gave away. Luol Deng (1st rd; 7th overall in 04’) was sent to the Chicago Bulls in a prearranged deal. Lil’ Nate Robinson (1st rd; 21st overall in 05’) was traded to the New York Knicks along with guard/forward Quentin Richardson for F/C Kurt Thomas and the rights to 2nd round pick Dijon Thompson (2nd rd; 54th overall in 05’).

2006 didn’t shine any brighter for the Suns who owned two 1st round draft selections (#21 & #27). The Suns drafted Rajon Rondo (1st rd; 21st overall in 06’) and traded him, along with a broken down Brian Grant to the Boston Celtics for their 2007 1st round draft (a picked conveyed to the C’s by the Cleveland Cavaliers who got guard Jiri Welsch in a prior deal) and cash considerations. With the 27th selection, the Suns drafted promising Spanish guard Sergio Rodriguez (1st rd; 27th overall in 06’) but traded his rights to the Portland Trailblazers for cash considerations.

The 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers 1st round selection turned out to be Spanish sensation Rudy Fernandez (1st rd; 24th overall in 07’) who was subsequently dealt again to the Portland Trailblazers along with shooting forward James Jones for cash.

Ouch.

Can you imagine if the Suns kept half those guys?

Can you fathom the team not signing Marcus Banks to a five-year $21 million dollar contract in 06’?

And how can we all forget the greatest crime of all?

Absorbing Shaquille “The Big Cactus” O’Neal’s $40 million dollar deal for the next two years.

*sigh*

So much for Sarver’s belt tightening mandate.

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