With the 2009 NBA Draft exactly a week away, a culmination of over a year’s worth of preparation will conclude this week as the Suns’ front office fine-tunes its selection strategy. With one lottery pick and two second-rounders, Phoenix is poised to infuse some fresh basketball blood into the organization.
After hosting their own individual workouts and attending the NBA’s Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago and an array of group workouts, Suns President of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Kerr and Director of Player Personnel Todd Quinter traveled to the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy this past week to evaluate the talent coming out of Europe. According to Kerr, the three-day camp consisted of two or three potential first-round picks to go along with a bevy of second-round talent.
“We saw all of the top European players,” Kerr said. “We also caught a glimpse of some of the younger European guys that have a chance to be good down the road. There was a 17-year old kid that was there who was really impressive and now we have on our radar screen.”
The reason the Reebok Eurocamp is so invaluable for scouting is that instead of seeing a player only once or maybe twice a week in Italy, scouts are able to study a player in a bevy of games over the course of three straight days. Not only does it save time to see all of the players at one time in one setting, but it also conserves the cost of booking multiple trips to Europe.
With the No. 48 and No. 57 selections in the second round, Treviso was ripe environment to scout potential players for those slots. But as much as Kerr values the Treviso camp as well as the others, he still remains partial to hosting his own individual workouts.
“Your own individual workouts are always the best because you get to see guys in your own environment and you get to talk to them on a more personal level,” he said.
Where the group workouts allow scouts to see a boatload of prospects, there is almost no personal interaction between the players and front office personnel. On the flip side, the Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago allows for personal interaction but doesn’t feature the players competing against each other in scrimmaging.
That’s why, from Kerr’s point of view, the individual workout is the perfect marriage between the two. So as the Suns head into draft, they are hosting one more workout on June 20.
The players scheduled for the workout include Louisville’s Earl Clark, Gonzaga’s Austin Daye, Florida’s Nick Calathes and foreign player Jonas Jurebko. Kerr believes that the draft is deep and that there should be some possible assets available with their picks in the second round.
With their first pick, Kerr says that the Suns are going choose the best available player – despite his position – because he believes the roster could be drastically changed by the outset of the 2010-11 season.
“We’re in transition and we’re probably going to make some moves here either this summer or next summer,” he said. “Next summer for sure there will be a lot of change with the team because we have a lot of guys who are contractually up. I don’t think you can pick for need, you kind of just have to take the best guy at this point and worry about everything else later.”
As for climate heading into the draft, Kerr said that there is a great deal of chatter occurring between front offices around the league.
“Some of teams near the top of the draft are trying to move down or move out and trade those picks for players,” he said. “There’s always a lot of talk but you never know how much is going to happen.”