A Skilled Scorer

There were some reports prior to the draft that the Phoenix Suns had given T.J. Warren's camp a promise that they would select the NC State small forward in the 2014 NBA Draft, and they did just that Thursday night.

There were some reports prior to the draft that the Phoenix Suns had given T.J. Warren's camp a promise that they would select the NC State small forward in the 2014 NBA Draft, and they did just that Thursday night.

The Suns used their first selection, No. 14 overall, on the 6-foot-8 wing. Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough was thrilled to have Warren still on the board when they came on the clock.

"We had T.J. rated a lot higher than where [he] got drafted," said McDonough. "We talked some about packaging picks to move up, but as the draft was unfolding, obviously those are tough calls and you don't know how they are going to go."

"I'm very blessed for the opportunity," said Warren on ESPN after being selected. "It means a lot. It's a great organization and a great young team. I look forward to getting with those guys and winning some games."

Warren caught the team's attention with his ability to put the ball in the basket. Just a sophomore, he was named ACC Player of the Year after averaging 24.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals.

"T.J. is an elite scorer," said McDonough. "He was one of the best scorers in the country. He was the player of the year in the ACC, which is one of the best conferences in the country.

"He has a unique ability to put the ball in the basket. He has good size and strength, but more importantly he has terrific instincts and a fantastic touch around the basket. We feel like he has a lot of things you can't teach. He has to continue to work on his outside shooting, but we think he has a chance to be a pretty special offensive player."

One of the concerns that scouts and media had with Warren was his 3-point shooting. Although he's extremely dangerous from mid-range, Warren hit just 26.7% of his 3-point shots as a sophomore for the Wolfpack.

That didn't really bother Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek.

"He's such a great scorer that he's not going to have to rely on a 3-point shot," said Hornacek. "He'll be able to move without the ball, catch it on the move, and once he's on the move he's very slick. He knows when to pick the ball up and go into his shot. He has a great feel for the game offensively."

Warren's defense was also considered a question mark, but Hornacek added he answered some of those questions during workouts with the team.

"In one of our drills he guarded a point guard, the next was a forward, and then a center who tried to back him down," said Hornacek. "He guarded... stopped, all three pretty easily. Those things stuck out to me."

Phoenix has one of the top backcourts in the league with starting guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, and the Suns added Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis with the No. 18 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. They run a fast-paced offensive system under Hornacek that emphasis the transition game and ball movement.

The second-year head coach feels that Warren is an ideal fit.

"We want to get the ball up and down the court," said Hornacek. "I think [Warren is] a great finisher. He has all the moves. He'll rise up and dunk on you, but a lot of times he doesn't need to do that because he knows how to get the ball in the hole.

"Anytime that you have a guy out there that can score in our system... he's going to be able to get kickout passes from those guys. If [the defense] runs out at him, he'll be able to drive right around them and get to the basket."

"I think it's just his feel of the game," added Hornacek. "No matter where he gets the ball... he moves very well without the ball. The backcuts... when teams are looking at our other players and how they are going to help on Goran or Eric, he's going to slip behind them and get opportunities that way too. He'll fit right in."

As for Warren, he seemed pleased with his future destination.

"I think my style of play fits very well," he said. "I like to get up in transition for easy baskets, running the floor very hard. Their style of play matches my style of play. So it's a perfect fit."

Now Playing
VIDEO: Pack Players Talk Raleigh Regional
4-star SG Josh Anderson wants to take visits
UPDATE: Pack Pride Recruiting Blog
ACC, SEC first to offer 2018 S Thompson
2018 OT Edwards has big-time potential

Pack Pride Top Stories