COMMENTARY | In a draft with more question marks than sure things, the Phoenix Suns will have a decision to make that will be the first brick in the Ryan McDonough-led rebuilding of the franchise. The Suns will get a quality player at No. 5, but will they make the right choice? Who is the right choice?
The Suns aren't going to get Nerlens Noel, so we can count him out. By most mock drafts out there, Alex Len and Otto Porter will likely be gone. That leaves Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo, who would both fill a gaping hole at the shooting guard position.
McLemore has the offensive upside that teams drool over, but he's not the safest pick. The Suns need a difference maker with a proven track record of improvement. They need an athlete with a work ethic that rivals anyone in the draft. The Suns need a shot of VO.
Oladipo is a defensive stalwart who already has an NBA-ready body. His 42" vertical and 6.6 percent body fat shows he's an explosive, hard-working prospect. At 6'4", 213 lbs, Oladipo won't be bullied by the bigger shooting guards in the league. His perimeter defense consistently improved through his three years at Indiana and culminated with him posting 2.2 steals per game in the 2012-13 season.
The Suns are short on athletes and Oladipo would be a terrific fit next to Goran Dragic in the backcourt. The ability to get into the passing lanes would take a lot of the pressure off of the Phoenix bigs, which would be greatly appreciated by the likes of Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola.
A big knock on Oladipo is the fact that he isn't very polished offensively. I don't see 59.9 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from the 3-pt line to be much of an issue, but Oladipo wasn't consistent with his jumpshot and will need to do a better job with the midrange game in order to succeed in the NBA.
Lucky for him, he's got a great teacher in coach Jeff Hornacek, who had similar issues with his scoring ability early in his NBA career.
Hornacek didn't come out of Iowa State as a can't-miss prospect back in 1986. In Hornacek's senior year, he averaged 13.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.9 steals in 37.2 minutes per game. Oladipo averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.2 steals in just 28.4 minutes per game in his last season.
Hornacek's first two seasons in the NBA were fairly underwhelming and his 3-pt shooting was actually subpar. It's surprising to learn that a career 40.3 percent shooter from the 3-pt line started his career shooting 27.9, 29.3 and 33.3 percent in his first three seasons.
Oladipo will continue to improve because of his stellar work ethic and Hornacek's guidance. Not only is he the safest pick, he's the best pick.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers Phoenix Suns practices and games for the site he founded , HoopsHabit.com.Follow @iambabyd13 on Twitter!
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