by Rodger Bohn / @rodgerbohn

The 2011-12 Phoenix Suns were one of the teams that those on the east coast didn’t quite understand how good they were unless they were staying up until the wee hours of the night catching games on League Pass. Finishing with an even 33-33 record and just three games out of the Playoffs, coach Alvin Gentry saved his job with the excellent work that he was able to do with pieces left over from the D’Antoni regime. Now it’s time to bring his own guys in.

Steve Nash and Grant Hill are unrestricted free agents. Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, and Shannon Brown all come off of the books as well. This leaves the Suns with essentially no backcourt and around $30 million to spend this off-season, though owner Robert Sarver has publicly said that they may consider hanging on to some of that cap flexibility for the future. While Nash has openly expressed his love for Phoenix and desire to return, many have questioned whether he wants to chase that ring for a year with a contender or possibly head back North of the border to end his career with the Raptors.

While the frontcourt has bodies, they only guy who seems like the long term answer is 7-foot Polish center Marcin Gortat. Coming off of a career year with averages of 15 and 10, Gortat is looking like he could wind up developing into an all-star caliber center in the west. The power forward position has no definite solution as Channing Frye and Markieff Morris both had major ups and downs throughout the previous season.

So after looking over the entire roster and deciding what was best for the franchise long term, the pick is in.

With the 13th pick of the SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Phoenix Suns select…

Perry Jones from Baylor.

Scoring guards Austin Rivers and Dion Waiters also got strong looks here, but Jones simply had too much talent and potential to pass up. There was definitely a glaring need in the backcourt and while tough to ignore, the Suns had to swing for the fences, and this 6-11 sophomore was the guy.

Capable of playing both the small forward and power forward positions, the Dallas native gives Phoenix the flexibility to move him all over the court. If you want to use him as a pick-and-pop big (where I think he fits best), he’s definitely going to be an upgrade from last year’s lottery pick, Markieff Morris. Some feel that he has Paul George potential on the perimeter but while the physical attributes are present, there’s definite room for refinement before he’s going to be playing swingman full-time.

Now of course, there were concerns. Anyone who has seen Perry play know that he has just as much potential, if not more, than anyone not named Anthony Davis in this year’s Draft—yet he rarely put it all together in Waco. The inconsistencies the former McDonald’s All-American displayed drew him heavy criticism from both the fans and media alike. There were flashes, though. The 31-point explosion late in the year versus Kansas State and the 28-point domination he put on tough non-conference foe BYU gave everyone a peek of how unique a talent he was. Then the two games in NCAA tourney when he finished with 9 points combined left you scratching your head as to what you were going to get.

Ultimately, Phoenix Suns GM Lance Blanks and head coach Alvin Gentry should decide that the chance to obtain the nextstar to don the orange and purple makes more sense than to go with a safer bet, so we can all be sit back and play the waiting game on Mr. Jones in PHX.

2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft
PickTeamPlayerPickTeamPlayer
1HornetsAnthony Davis16Rockets
2BobcatsMichael Kidd-Gilchrist17Mavs
3WizardsBrad Beal18TWolves
4CavsThomas Robinson19Magic
5KingsJared Sullinger20Nuggets
6BlazersAndre Drummond 21Celtics
7WarriorsHarrison Barnes22Celtics
8RaptorsDamian Lillard23Hawks
9PistonsJohn Henson24Cavs
10HornetsJeremy Lamb25Grizzlies
11BlazersKendall Marshall26Pacers
12BucksMeyers Leonard27Heat
13SunsPerry Jones III28Thunder
14Rockets29Bulls
15Sixers30Warriors