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Suns like Jimmer Fredette but big man more likely pick

By Bob Baum

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, June 22 2011 7:30 a.m. MDT

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns are part of the Jimmer Fredette buzz if the dynamic BYU scorer extraordinaire is available at the No. 13 pick in Thursday's NBA draft. Perhaps a more likely scenario has the Suns going for a power forward to bulk up a weak front line.

The Suns, coming off a disappointing season in which they failed to make the playoffs, haven't had a selection this high since 2004, when they took Luol Deng at No. 7 but immediately traded him to Chicago in a deal that had been arranged prior to the draft.

General manager Lance Blanks had effusive praise for Fredette at a pre-draft gathering with reporters on Tuesday, and said he had no idea if the gifted guard would still be available when the Suns made their choice.

A power forward, say Markieff Morris of Kansas or Tristan Thompson of Texas, is a safer bet for what — unless the team makes a trade — is Phoenix's only pick of the draft.

"We need to add a few things," Blanks said. "One, I would say we need to be a little bulkier and have a little more rim protection, a little tougher inside. It would be nice to have what I call a finisher or some wing scoring. And we've got to figure out the backup point guard situation."

Steve Nash could be entering his final season with the Suns, who have long tried to groom an understudy for the two-time MVP. Phoenix has a team option for Aaron Brooks, acquired in a trade with Houston last season, but he struggled in his brief time with the Suns. That brings the conservation to Fredette, who had an impressive workout in Phoenix last week.

Asked if Fredette could make a successful move to an NBA point guard, Blanks said yes.

"He showed that, I thought, through the college season," Blanks said. "Sometimes you look at players and you look at their game, you forget about the human being. And I think the person who Jimmer is probably is not going to allow him to fail in this environment. I don't want to overstate it, but he's high character and given the right opportunity and the right situation, he's going to figure it out."

Morris, whose twin brother Marcus is projected to go a few picks higher than the Suns' selection, is 6-foot-9 and 241 pounds. His strength and defense, along with a serviceable offense, make him attractive to Phoenix as a player who could help right away. Thompson, leaving Texas after his freshman season, is 6-9 and 227 pounds, a raw talent with a huge upside.

A darkhorse in the mix could be 6-8, 225-pound Kenneth Faried of Morehead State, college basketball's leading rebounder at 14.5 per game.

The team is entertaining trade suggestions, although it's unclear whether it would be to move up or down, or perhaps add a second selection later in the draft.

A blockbuster seems unlikely, with the front office persistently shooting down Nash trade talk and, most recently, rumors involving Marcin Gortat.

"We love Marcin Gortat and hope that he's a part of our core going forward for a long time," Blanks said. "We have talks with every club always about everything. That's just part of the business. I'm sure Lon (Babby, Suns president of basketball operations) is having several calls a day. I'll have calls as well. It's part of the deal."

Outside possibilities for Phoenix include shooting guard Klay Thompson of Washington State and small forward Chris Singleton of Florida State.

It's the first draft for the Babby-Blanks regime in Phoenix.

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