For the better part of the last couple of weeks, the same names have been on most mock drafts for the Phoenix Suns. Some of those names include Dion Waiters, Austin Rivers, Terrence Ross and Kendall Marshall among others.
A new name has popped on the Suns' radar the past couple days, according to Suns beat writer Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. That man is Arnett Moultrie, a junior forward out of Mississippi State. As of Tuesday, he is one of only two players that the Suns have brought in twice for workouts.
At first glance, it is a bit surprising that the Suns are even considering Moultrie. Phoenix is in desperate need of a 2-guard and possibly a replacement at the point if Steve Nash decides to leave. The Suns also have four big men under contract for next season in Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick, and Robin Lopez is expected to return.
When looking at the roster closer though, it makes sense why General manager Lance Blanks and company are possibly looking to add another big man.
After having offseason shoulder surgery, there is no guarantee that Frye will be ready to start the season in October. Even when healthy, the former Arizona Wildcat had a down year. Gortat might not put up the same stats with Nash gone, Morris struggled when in the starting lineup, Warrick is a possibility to get axed with the amnesty clause and Lopez is well, Robin Lopez.
To be frank, if the Suns' bigs were so incredible, this team probably would have found a way to sneak into the playoffs this past season. They aren't and definitely can be improved on despite the number of bodies that will be under contract heading into next year.
After two seasons at UTEP, the 21-year-old sat out a year to transfer to Mississippi State. During his only season there, Moultrie averaged a double-double with 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds. His biggest point total of the season actually came in his last game of his collegiate career against UMASS in the first round of the NIT.
The Suns love Moultrie's elite athleticism, skill and nasty streak. If drafted by Phoenix, he would be a real nice fit for the Suns' system because of his solid range on his jump shot and his ability to run the floor. At times though, he relies too much on his athleticism and size and his motor causes him to turn the ball over quite a bit for a guy who isn't a guard.
In most mock drafts, Moultrie is going in the late teens to the early 20s, which makes you wonder if the Suns should trade down from 13 and add another pick if they are indeed really interested in the Mississippi State forward. NBADraft.net has him going all the way up to 15 and their comparisons have him at best to Jermaine O'Neal and at worst to Jason Thompson of the Sacramento Kings.
Personally, I like Moultrie and I think he is going to be a solid NBA player for several years. But a year after drafting Morris, I think Blanks and the rest of the Suns office needs to go in a different direction. I think both Moultrie and Morris are too similar and would hurt the development of one another while playing the exact same position.
There are a number of different players that the Suns can take. I don't think Waiters or Rivers will be available at 13, so it might very well come down to a decision between Ross and Marshall.
At the 2-guard, Ross would be an elite athlete and a great shooter that the Suns haven't had since Jason Richardson left. As for Marshall, he is not a great shooter, but he is a leader, a winner and a great passer. Those are three of the top things that you want from your point guard. Some scouts are even comparing him to Jason Kidd.
Most importantly, Marshall is a type of guy you can take whether Nash is back or not.
With the draft with a little more than 48 hours away, it will be intriguing to see who the Suns take with their 13th selection. Last year, the Suns went with a solid, but safe pick in Morris. He will have a nice NBA career, but he will never be considered a star.
With the organization at a crossroads, the Suns need to hit a home run with this pick.