The NBA Draft is under a month away, which means NBA Draftmas is back. Each day the Game Haus will review a team’s past season, their team needs and targets. We will start off with the team that has the number one overall pick, the Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix had the worst record in the NBA at 21-61 this season and were able to win the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery. They are a long way from competing in the Western Conference but have some nice young pieces to build for the future.
The Suns have a star in Devin Booker, who averaged 24.9 points per game and also helped create for his teammates from the shooting guard position with 4.7 assists per game. With their next leading scorers being T.J. Warren (19.6 ppg) and Josh Jackson (13.1 ppg), they are set on the win for years to come.
This season the Suns traded away Eric Bledsoe and now need to replace him. They did trade for Elfrid Payton, but his career hasn’t come to fruition yet. With time he could be a solid starting point guard for the Suns, but he currently isn’t under contract for the 2018-2019 season, as their is a club option that needs to be picked up. Brandon Knight returns next season as the teams highest paid player. He can run the point and score in bunches when given the opportunity (proven in his 2015-16 campaign in Phoenix). Phoenix however still may want to improve the point guard position in this draft.
The interior play of the Suns has not been great, with a lot of aging veterans and young draft picks that haven’t worked out. That will be a place that is addressed again in the draft, it’s just a matter of when.
On defense, Phoenix had the worst unit in the league allowing 113.3 points per game. The only major stat where they ranked in the top half of the league as a team (between points allowed, points scored, rebounds and assists), was rebounds per game, in which they ranked 12th.
This team will not likely be a great contender next season but can be vastly improved in the draft.
Phoenix Suns Draft picks and needs
The Suns have four picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.
First round: No. 1, No. 16
Second round: No. 31, No. 59
If the Suns want to compete they need to improve their defense, point guard play and interior play. With the number of picks they have in this draft, Phoenix should be able to address the point guard and interior, although improving the defense could be a long process.
The draft will tell how they feel about Brandon Knight returning to the fold and Payton’s status as the team’s point guard. If they draft a big with their first pick, Knight and Payton will likely still be key parts of the team and its future. If they take a point guard, or rather a play-making player from Real Madrid who needs to have the ball in his hands to be successful, Knight and possibly Payton will likely be traded, as there will be limited minutes for one, if not both, of them.
Pick No. 1: DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
There is mounting buzz that this pick may be used in a trade to acquire Karl Anthony Towns. If that’s a possibility and not too much more is needed to give up to the Timberwolves, the Suns need to take the deal immediately. These profiles will not predict trades though.
Picking Ayton would immediately improve the interior play of the Suns. He physically dominated college competition with his scoring and rebounding. Ayton can also stretch the floor as he shot 34.3% from deep. Devin Booker has already mentioned that it would be cool to team up with Ayton. Those two could create a great one-two punch for the future. The starting lineup next season could look like this: Knight, Booker, T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, DeAndre Ayton.
Pick No. 16: Anfernee Simons, PG, USA
Simons is able to go to the NBA Draft after playing a year at a prep school. This is an uncommon route and NBA teams will have to find out if taking the gamble of him not playing against good competition in college, or overseas, is worth it. He would have been one of the best point guards in the freshman class but now gets to take his chance in the pros.
The Suns can take the risk on a point guard like Simons with their second pick because they took Ayton with their first pick and have Knight returning. Simons could sit behind Knight or Payton (or even Tyler Ulis if need be) and learn while picking up spot minutes.
Pick No. 31: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
Another way that the Suns can improve is their three-point shooting. They ranked last in the league in that category and need to have more shooters as threats so opposing defenses can’t pack in the defense, or just focus on Booker. Spreading the floor would also help take some pressure off of Ayton.
Allen has been the most polarizing figure in college basketball for the last four seasons with his spectacular play and his immaturity. He has tripped players, been a catalyst in a National Championship Duke team and has been a constant player covered in the media. He can play on or off ball but the most important thing is he can stretch the floor, hitting 38% of his shots from three-point range in his college career.
Pick No. 59: Sagaba Konate, PF, West Virginia
Konate can provide some depth for the frontcourt and could benefit from some time in the G-League if he decides to keep his name entered in the draft. He has had a good combine, doing what he does best: blocking shots and rebounding the ball. His measurements are what hurt his stock, as he’s just 6’7,5″ in shoes. At best he’s a bench/role player in the NBA, but getting that late in the second round is welcomed.