Top college basketball analysts weigh in on Suns options with 5th pick

The Phoenix Suns “new era,” some may say, starts Thursday for first-year general manager Ryan McDonough and rookie head coach Jeff Hornacek.

If the Suns don’t trade out of their 5th position they can go a number of different directions depending on the players on the board.

Two players who came in for pre-draft workouts and have been linked to the Suns are shooting guards Ben McLemore from Kansas and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo. McLemore offers a more consistent offensive game and smooth shooting stroke while Oladipo’s strength is his athleticism, toughness and quickness defensively.

“Between the two the one I would rely on more and know exactly what I’m going to get is Victor Oladipo,” long-time Sporting News college basketball insider and Big Ten Network analyst Mike DeCourcy told Brad Cesmat in a recent interview with “The one who is more exciting and has more potential is Ben McLemore…they’re both tremendous athletes.”

DeCourcy believes each will be solid pros but there are red flags. One is the fact both players didn’t always rise to challenge when their teams needed them most. Specifically during the NCAA tournament this spring.

Another player who has been linked to the Suns is Georgetown small forward Otto Porter.

“I love the way Otto Porter plays,” CBS lead college basketball analyst and Indiana Pacers Vice President of Player Relations Clark Kellogg told Cesmat. “If I had to pick a player who I enjoyed most watching play, he’s one of the few guys in the college draft who quite clever and good without the ball.”

Kellogg applauded Porter’s heady play and overall “basketball I.Q.” with the Hoyas. He’s known for being an unselfish player with a solid mid-range game.

DeCourcy feels Porter isn’t necessarily a homerun pick but more of a niche player who needs to be drafted by a certain type of team.

“I think he’s a situational pick,” he said. “If I’ve got a lot of other things covered and I want get somebody in who I know will be able to score…and I know will be solid…on and off the floor…I like my guys at that high end to be really elite athletes and he’s not so that’s a little concerning but for the most part I feel he’ll be a very solid pick for whoever takes him.”

Although the Suns selected North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall with their first-round pick last year they worked out several point guards including Lehigh’s lightening quick C.J. McCallum.

“I was really impressed with his game,” Kellogg said of McCallum. “His savvy, his smarts, his ability to get his shots. He’s a good rebounder for his position. Excellent poise. I liked what I saw in him.”

If the Suns decide to go big they could tag Oladipo’s teammate with the Hoosiers, 7’0 power forward Cody Zeller who has also visited the Valley in recent weeks.

“I think Cody Zeller can be a high-level power forward in the NBA,” DeCourcy explained to Cesmat. “Shoots it well. Very good athlete [with] underrated strength. [He’s] terrific from end-to-end.”

The draft starts Thursday at 4:00 Arizona time. If Phoenix keeps the fifth pick they’re expected to select around 5:00.

Make sure to follow myself (@Eric_Pros2Preps), Brad Cesmat (@BradCesmat) and Jared Cohen (@JaredPros2Preps) for complete draft coverage throughout the night.