Stoudemire Experience Illustrates Value Of NBA Draft Workouts For Suns

Phoenix Suns hosting workout for draft prospects. (Photo by Jose Esparza/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — Fifteen years ago, the Phoenix Suns had the ninth overall pick in the NBA Draft. Buzz surrounded a high school athlete who had declared himself eligible.

“He had a very checkered past,” former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo said about Amar’e Stoudemire. “Not a very stable home condition. He went to a number of different high schools.”

But after putting the player through multiple workouts and attending dinners and a Diamondbacks game with him, Colangelo “made my mind up on the spot that I wanted him.”

Stoudemire went on to be the centerpiece of an exciting era of Suns basketball. Colangelo’s instincts paid off and spoke volumes about the importance of NBA draft workouts and interviews.

“It’s like speed dating so you get a quick feel. (You) sit there and talk with them,” said assistant Suns general manager Pat Connelly. “(Just) trying to get a general sense of what they are about, what their family is like, what they like to do.”

High draft picks have been a common occurrence for the Suns in the last decade. They have the fourth overall pick in next week’s 2017 NBA Draft, and two in the second round, and have hosted a handful of pre-draft workouts this summer.

Among those who have participated include Kentucky’s Malik Monk, Gonzaga’s Zach Collins and Oregon’s Jordan Bell.

The Suns selected several future All-Stars in the past but traded their rights away. In 2004, they drafted Luol Deng and send him to the Chicago Bulls. In 2006, they drafted Rajon Rondo and traded his rights to the Boston Celtics.

Devin Booker, who the Suns drafted in 2015, could see an All-Star Game appearance in the near future.

The Suns would be thrilled to land another Booker, or even Stoudemire, who intrigued Colangelo after the former Suns owner saw him in the McDonald’s All-American Game.

“Watching him perform he was so strong physically. He had so much going for him,” he said.

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