Last year the Utah Jazz turned the No. 14 & 21 picks into Trey Burke while those two picks went to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the form of Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. The trade worked out pretty well for both teams in year one with Burke being a catalyst for the team and Dieng catching fire for a period as the best player in the world. Removing tongue from check now and continuing on...
They also have the 27th and 50th picks respectively, but those are for another day. Focusing on the 18th Overall Pick and what that could bring the Suns is actually much more positive than one would think on the surface. In every draft there is a player that is widely looked at as a Top 10 talent that falls down to the middle of the first round and is available around where the Suns are sitting. Whether that is Avery Bradley at No. 19 in 2010 or Kawhi Leonard at No. 15 in 2011, there is always at least one talent that slides down to a fortunate team. Or a smart team depending on how you look at it.
Over the past nine years using the same window as the analysis on the last pick the 18th pick offers up an average career PER of 13.46 while the NBA League Average was 13.5 this past season.
Just like with the 14th Overall Pick there odds of landing a star are slim, but the odds of a league average player with potential is there. All but one player drafted in this spot in the past nine years is still in the NBA playing a role on a team. The exception is Oleksiy Pecherov which was, if you recall, was one in a chain of missed picks by the Washington Wizards from 1999 to John Wall. To take that a step further, Pecherov (11.9) played in the league for three seasons and netted a career PER that is nearly a full four points higher than Chris Singleton (8.2), another Wizards draft pick at the 18th Overall spot.
Yes that list includes two current Suns and an All-Star point guard. Not too bad.
The past is not an exact indicator of the representative talent in this years class or any draft class going forward, but trends are not to be ignored. If you have a Top three pick you are more likely to draft a franchise altering player than at any other part of the draft. If you are drafting at No. 14 then there is the opportunity to net a league average player that will likely be off your roster in2-4 years. Those are just trends that are established over time. Surface value information.
The 18th Pick seems to have more stability in terms of a long-term NBA talent that has the potential to be between league average and above league average overall.
Payne fills a power forward mandate and could compliment the skill-set of Alex Len or Miles Plumlee with his shooting, athleticism, and defensive potential. Drafting a four with the 14th Pick opens up a well of opportunities from drafting a wing to a trade to the draft-and-stash philosophy with an international prospect.
The top international prospect in that range is Clint Capela, Swiss F/C, No. 24 Overall. He has the athletic tools to be a Serge Ibaka type athlete and defender, but questions of his skill, footwork, and motor are what have him sliding down draft boards since the Nile Hoops Summit. Others to consider are Jusuf Nurkic (C, Bosnia No. 49), Nikola Jokic (C, Serbia No. 51), Kristaps Porzingis (PF, Latvia No. 53), and Vasilije Micic (PG, Serbia No. 44). All are reaches in this spot, but with the current roster having a farm system in Europe is not necessarily a bad thing.
In the next year or two the Chicago Bulls are going to bring over Nikola Mirotic which will be like having an additional lottery pick without picking. The same could happen with the Suns if they go the draft-and-stash route.
Outside of a trade, draft-and-stash, or selecting one of the varying talented wings with this pick there is a lot to be desired here. Unless there is that Top 10 type talent that falls down to the this range. Someone like Dario Daric (F, Croatia No. 10) fits the mold as both a forward and a draft-and-stash prospect. Gary Harris (No. 9) or Marcus Smart (No. 8) does not fit an immediate need, but have very good value as combo guards that could play with Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, and Archie Goodwin in different line-ups.
Who will fall, if anyone? Once again, the Phoenix Suns are in a position with various options, none of which are negative.
Next up: A review of the No. 27 Overall Pick