Phoenix Suns: NBA Draft Preview

February 11th, 2019

The trade deadline has come and gone and we are shifting most of our focus towards the off-season where the Phoenix Suns will be in prime position to make a franchise-altering splash in landing Duke star Zion Williamson. But what about the rest of the prospects? I will break down some of the top prospects to give you a quick preview of what to expect, and how they fit in Phoenix particularly. We also have some very special guests giving their insights regarding their top 5 fits for Phoenix, and I appreciate all of them for contributing. Keep in mind, this is super early and a lot will change from now and June and the draft is a very fluid situation but when your team has 11 wins in February these are the kinds of areas you can afford to expend your energy into.

 Here are my personal top 7 ranked prospects:

*this is not based off fit for PHX*

1. Zion Williamson- PF- Duke: He is the no-brainer number 1 pick and would be a franchise changing player from Day 1. An Ayton/Zion frontcourt would be one of the most imposing, freakishly athletic duos in the league’s history. Comp: Think Julius Randle with LeBron-level athleticsm and the sheer strength of fully grown rhino.

2. Ja Morant- PG- Murray State: Ja is one hell of an athlete, and he can pass and score the ball with the best of them, but his main issue is shooting from deep and there are some defensive concerns though he’s not a liability he’s also not a plus on that end. I think if Phoenix had more patience in this rebuild he could be a long-term solution at PG, but it would take time and it remains to be seen what direction they will go this offseason.

3. RJ Barrett- SG/SF- Duke: RJ has had a somewhat disappointing season as a whole, yet you still see the upside and dog he has in him which is why he’s at number 3 for me. I honestly do not like his fit in Phoenix as much as guys like Reddish or Culver, but his three point shooting has been improving over the course of the year. If they took him you’d have to imagine that’s the end of Oubre and that they would possibly trade another wing as well.

4. Cam Reddish- SF- Duke: Reddish is also improving upon his three point shooting as the season has gone along, and he’s showing flashes of what he can offer to an NBA team. I don’t think he’ll ever become a star or go-to guy, but he can be a valuable role player that can take over at times. The main issue with him and Barrett as far as Phoenix is concerned is that there’s already an influx of wings on this team.

5. Jarrett Culver- SG- Texas Tech: Culver is a little under the radar this year, he’s a sneaky good prospect that is well-rounded and contributes to winning basketball by doing the little things. As of now, I think I’d take him over Barrett or Reddish, but that could defintely change over time as it’s a fluid situation with all these guys.

6. Darius Garland- PG- Vanderbilt: Garland’s injury definitely slowed down the hype train that he had entering the year, but there’s still reason to believe he can develop into a starting caliber NBA point guard. The question is (much like with Morant) will Phoenix be patient enough to develop another young point guard? I tend to think not.

7. Brandon Clarke- PF- Gonzaga: Clarke is another guy much like Culver that wouldn’t be a particulary “sexy” pick, but he offers real value and could bring some much needed defensive tenacity to this Suns team. You could play him next to Ayton if you surrond them with shooters, or use him as a small-ball 5 off the bench as well. I think he’ll be a nice role player in the modern NBA with his versatilty and athleticism.

Overall, I’m leaning towards trading the pick if they don’t land Zion, but the prospects in the 2-5 range are intriguing. The main issue lies in the organization likely being impatient (rightfully so to an extent) and if the right player is available I think Phoenix should make a move. Some trade targets include; Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry among others.

Here are Tankathon.com’s top 5 fits for Phoenix (I appreciate the input from them, check out their site and if you don’t already be sure to follow them on twitter @Tankathon

  1. Zion Williamson
  2. Ja Morant
  3. Cam Reddish
  4. RJ Barrett (Tankathon not a fan of fit, which I agree w/ current roster)
  5. Darius Garland

Evan Sidery from Bright Side of the Sun breaks down his top Suns fits into tiers: Check out his big board on Bright Side of the Sun and follow him on twitter @ESidery 

Also check out his big board podcast via Bright Side of the Sun, Locked on Suns is a great listen.

Tier 1: Zion Williamson

Tier 2: Ja Morant, RJ Barrett

Tier 3: Cam Reddish, Nassir Little, Jarrett Culver

Sreekar (@sreekyshooter) also jumped in on the fun and gave me his top 5 fits for Phoenix.

If you don’t already follow him for some reason go ahead and do it now (@sreekyshooter) before you miss out on another racist offering him a free flight, or him fooling ESPN with photoshop.

Tier 1: Zion

Tier 2: Trade the pick for an established point guard

Tier 3: Trade the pick for a different established point guard

Tier 4: Jarrett Culver, Ja Morant, Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett

Tier 5: Trade the pick for other established player(s) or multiple picks

Suns Insider was kind enough to give us a detailed breakdown of their top 5 draft prospects for Phoenix. Be sure to follow them on twitter @InsiderSuns for great content.

1. Zion Williamson – Zion’s fit next to Ayton may have critics question his fit with the team, but there’s no denying his superstar ability as a player that can run the floor, rebound, block shots, score in the post and has elite athleticism.

2. Ja Morant – Morant has quickly emerged as one of the top prospects in this draft. With the ability to score, rebound, play make for his teammates, along with his insane athleticism, Morant has solidified himself as the best PG in this draft with star potential.

3. RJ Barrett – Barrett may not be the best fit on the Suns given their current collection of wings on the roster, but his ability to score and do a little bit of everything, along with his competitiveness makes him an elite prospect in this draft

4. Jarrett Culver – Culver is a smooth SG that does a little bit of everything, reminding us of a young Joe Johnson. The Suns should Draft the best player available, but spending a high pick on a SG with Booker as the face of the franchise at that position, along with their selections of SF’s Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges, makes his fit interesting.

5. Cam Reddish – Reddish is considered the less heralded player of Duke’s big 3, but his competitiveness and wing defense makes him a very intriguing prospect. Like many wing players in this draft, his fit on the roster could be concerning with multiple young wings drafted by Phoenix competing for playing time.

Dave King from Bright Side of the Sun offers some great insight of what the Suns do/don’t need and the best 5 fits for Phoenix! Follow him on twitter @DaveKingNBA

What the Suns need:

  • point guard who can play fast pace, either is best passer or best scorer on team or both
  • athletic, floor-running power forward

What the Suns DON’T need:

The Suns don’t any more under-developed wings as top-5 picks. Regardless of what happens over the summer, the Suns will still have at least three of Devin Booker (age 23 next year), T.J. Warren (26), Josh Jackson (22), Mikal Bridges (23), Kelly Oubre Jr. (24). All young and developing. So there’s no room at the inn for another 19 year old to get good enough minutes to develop properly.

Here’s Dave’s order of fit

1.Zion Williamson, PF. Because of course. Dude would be perfect next to Deandre Ayton, though neither of them can make a three at this point to stretch the floor. But Zion’s bull-dozing to the basket, rim-running in transition and multi-tooled defensive skills would be a game changer for any team, including the Suns. #tryinforzion

2.Ja Morant, PG. Because he’s like a young Russell Westbrook with incredible physical tools and natural basketball ability. Will eventually profile like a De’Aaron Fox or Westbrook type, or even a Dejounte Murray. Physically, I mean (reed-thin and super-quick and super-talented).

3. R.J. Barrett, SF (alpha mentality)

4.Romeo Langford, SG (two way potential)

5.Darius Garland, PG (injury issues, not a super athlete or I’d have him higher)

“The Suns should seriously think about trading their pick if they can’t get one of the top 2 guys. Seems to me the Suns could acquire a really good point guard or power forward for the #3-5 pick in the draft. But if the Suns keep the pick, here’s how I would stack the rest of them up.”- Dave King.

Now let’s see what the 7SOL podcast duo had to say:

Max aka “Podcast Boy”: @maxmcc11

*With the caveat that these are “fits” more than a Big Board*

1. Zion – The best prospect since Anthony Davis (and possibly since LeBron), Zion is #1 by a gap that even exceeds his vertical leap.

2. Jarrett Culver – The Phoenix Suns need players who know how to play winning basketball. Culver would help ease Devin Booker’s workload with his playmaking and floor generalship.

3. RJ Barrett – Look, I know he’s been inefficient and people have soured on him. But the guy is a beast of an athlete who dominates in transition and puts his heart into every single game (sound like something the Suns need?) Putting Barrett with Booker could help him translate to the NBA more smoothly than if given his own offense.

4. Darius Garland – My friend turned me onto Garland. He has some ideal traits for a modern NBA lead guard (fantastic handle; versatile pull-up jumper), which makes him an intriguing option at long-term PG.

5. Tre Jones – A strong, solid point guard who plays high-IQ basketball on both ends, Jones is my favorite option in the draft for the Suns if they trade down.

David Nash: @theIVpointplay

Notes: I will preface my mini big board by saying, I don’t generally focus on the draft until March onwards. Therefore, my big board of sorts hasn’t changed all that much since the pre-season. Other than the addition of Morant at #5 and separation of Zion all on his own at #1. I am a big fan of Reddish. So despite his disappointing College season, I am still a fan of his game translating well to the NBA. Although my views on him as a great glue guy in the pros, have taken a hit with him not being able to standout (or fit in) with RJ & Zion. Finally, I am firm believer at this stage that the Suns should take Zion at 1 if they get lottery lucky or trade the pick if they don’t. Of course, a lot can change between now and late June.

1. Zion Williamson —GAP— 2. RJ Barrett 3. Nassir Little 4. Cam Reddish 5. Ja Morant

Make sure to follow them both on twitter and give their podcast (7 seconds or less) a listen, it’s always entertaining stuff!

Alessandro Cozzi (@alecozz1) also chimed in with his thoughts on the best fits for Phoenix.

Tier 1 (no explanation): Zion Williamson

Tier 2 (super high IQ, position of need, best defenders in the class at their position, untapped potential if they develop the 3 point shot) : Brandon Clarke, Tre Jones

Tier 3 (size, length, ability to switch, tertiary playmaker upside, good defense): Culver, Reddish)

-Morant and Garland would be right up there, but I think they’ll take time and I don’t think the Suns have much patience left

-Garland in particular would be an incredible offensive fit with Booker (he’s the best shooter in the class and he’s a dynamic ball handler), but both him and Ja are very questionable defenders, so I would worry about the fit next to Booker. RJ Barrett would be redundant.

Next, we have some very extensive input offered from a couple more Suns twitter folk with their opinions.

Mike Vigil “Zion 1, Ja 2, 3-10 trade the pick” -@ImPatBurke

Jacob Padilla– “Zion or bust.”- @JacobPadilla_

HUGE thank you again to everyone that contributed. Putting this thing together took some work but I think it turned out great. Awesome way to bring Suns twitter together for a second. Look out for part 2 later in the year once the Draft Lottery results are in.

As of games before February 10th, 2019 here are the Suns odds at landing each pick. (via tankathon.com)

1st: 14% – 2nd: 13.4% – 3rd: 12.7% – 4th: 12% – 5th: 27.8% – 6th: 20%

NBA Draft Lottery Date: Tuesday, May 14th

NBA Draft Date: June 20th, 2019

 

Leave a comment below with your top 5 fits or with any feedback you had on the article, it would be very much appreciated! 

 

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