Leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft, we are going to preview each team in the lottery for their needs. We’ll be taking a look at the teams individual strengths, weaknesses, roster, and what prospects would fit in with the current and future plans.
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Why not get things started with the darlings of the 2013-2014 season, the Phoenix Suns. After winning an NBA record 48 games and missing the playoffs, the Suns are in a position to draft in the lottery rather than in the 20s to add to this scrappy, impressive young team. Let’s dive into the team sitting right in my backyard.
Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.
ONE: 2014-2015 Potential Roster Review
Every player on this current team is under contract to return next year for certain except Channing Frye (player option), Ish Smith (team option), Eric Bledsoe (restricted FA) and P.J. Tucker. Unless there are better options for the team I would expect Smith to get his option picked up. Frye is not getting 6.8 million elsewhere and the NBA collectively should understand by now the Suns are matching any offer Bledsoe might entertain or sign. Deja Eric Gordon Vu all over again.
The big question is Tucker and how the team handles his free agency. He is a 29-year-old defensive specialist that will get a lot of looks out on the open market if he is interested in cashing in for the his final big payday. Tucker is the team’s heart, he and Frye respectively, and is more than just points per game to this team. With three first-round picks, he might be more replaceable than other parts on this roster.
TWO: Biggest Strengths
Youth, overall shooting efficiency, and system are the biggest strengths for this team. They have a good collection of young, talented basketball players that will be under contract for a while, giving them flexibility with the draft. Adding more youth and talent is never a bad thing. Overall this team shot the ball well from close (55.5 percent), midrange (43 percent) and three (36.6 percent) this past year, all top-10 marks in the league. Also, the system is open and inviting for great athletes to thrive in. If you work hard on defense and on the glass, you can get easy looks with the way this team likes to run (18.7 PPG) on the break.
THREE: Biggest Weaknesses
In a word: Toughness.
In two words: Interior toughness. This team needs a gritty, high-energy, and tough interior presence that can rebound, defend, and resolve some of the team’s nagging weaknesses from this past year. They were abysmal in the paint in terms of opponents points (45.5 PPG, 26th in the league), opponent’s second chance points (14.2, 28th), and opponent’s offensive rebounding percentage (26.3, 22nd). Frye and Markieff Morris stretch the floor well with their offensive abilities, but are not going to win many battles with the towers out West. Miles Plumlee was a great story this past year as an athletic big man that came out of seemingly nowhere, but he has his shortcomings inside as well.
Another word. While Tucker is a borderline great defender, he is limited to put-back and corner threes on the offensive end. He is a great energy player for this team and does a lot of dirty work, but is not getting any younger or more prolific on the offensive end. An upgrade there couldn’t hurt.
FOUR: Odds In The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery
The Suns have a 0.5 percent chance (five total combinations out of 1,000) and a 98.2 percent chance of drafting exactly where they stand. Not the best odds in the world considering the No. 14 overall pick has drafted at No. 14 every single year.