Luck was not a Morrii as the Suns are going to draft 14th, 18th, 27th, and 50th as expected with no dramatic seismic shifts in their lottery fortunes. That is all a form of the function of being a very good team that was on the brink of the playoffs in the Western Conference (or home court advantage in the Eastern Conference) this past year. General Manager Ryan McDonough has all the assets in the world to make a splash, but at the same time, a very could team that could improve with the addition of 1-2 more talented young players. What is a GM to do?
Enough of me, let's get to what matters. The staff takes on the NBA Draft Lottery, here we go.
Thirtieth Topic: Play-Making
1. Breaking the Ice: Initial thoughts on the Phoenix Suns staying put at No. 14 Overall at the NBA Draft Lottery?
Jacob Padilla: My initial thought was, "OK." There may have been a chance, but in all reality there wasn't a chance. As Sean mentioned below, they may be locked into those draft spots, but that doesn't mean they'll be picking players with all four of them.
Kris Habbas: Just as the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to have a monopoly on the No. 1 Overall pick the Suns seem to have purchased stock in the 13th/14th picks over the same time frame. I'm a logical guy so this was where they were picking from to me from the time the season ended. Time for McDonough to get to work.
Mike Lisboa: I think there is about a 20% chance the Suns keep that 14th pick. They'll either move up or make a trade for an impact veteran. I won't speculate about the veteran, but there are opportunities to take the 8th pick from Sacramento, the 7th pick from the Lakers... or the 3rd pick from the 76ers. This might sound like crazy sauce, but if Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker go 1 and 2, leaving Joel Embiid at 3... maybe the Sixers look to move down with Nerlens Noel waiting in the wings.
Sean Sullivan: I don't think they stay put. I actually like their chances of moving up the the 7th spot in a trade with L.A., since the Lakers have so many holes to fill and could really use multiple picks. If not the Lakers, I think the Kings could also be a possibility at #8. The Suns are looking to pick up one impact player, and I think they will combine their picks in order to get their guy.
2. If you had a choice of trading the pick for an established (comparable value) player or just using it for the best available talent in the draft what would you like to see?
JP: The Sun need to be careful. They have cap space now, but that can go away in a hurry. It's tempting to go the route of the established veteran rather than patiently (or impatiently) waiting for rookies to develop into contributors, but that ignores the fact that a rookie contract is the best value in the NBA. The Suns need to be smart with their assets lest they trap themselves on the treadmill of good-but-not-good-enough. It all comes down to how good of a player the pick is being moved to acquire. I'd certainly consider it, but it has to be the right deal.
KH: If we are talking a straight swap then the options for a veteran player that will be able to impact winning significantly more than than a rookie are slim. Making a move to make a move is not the right choice here. Is there a Trevor Ariza or Arron Afflalo type that can be had for this pick? This pick plus another asset that is expendable? Drafting here gives the Suns a chance to scoop up a prospect that free-falls for some reason or a young piece to the puzzle.
ML: I'm not sure who the Suns could find in this kind of 1-to-1 scenario. I think the pick has more value as part of a package. If the choice is keep the pick or trade for a comparable player, I'd keep the pick. While the 14th pick can turn out as poorly as Earl Clark or as good as Markieff Morris or Robin Lopez, I'd gamble on the pick and take the cap space savings given the big money Phoenix is looking to spend on Eric Bledsoe and a player-to-be-named-later.
SS: I don't know who the Suns could realistically trade for outside of maybe a sign and trade for Hayward. Of course there is also Kevin Love, but I think the price to get him will be substantial and could cost us more than we are comfortable giving ... especially since we can't ensure he stays after the season. Those are the two players I could see us targeting though. Which would I prefer? That all depends on what it takes to get them here. I would certainly give up all of our picks this year for Love, and the Morrii ... but would that be enough?
3. Which prospect do you like enough to where getting them at No. 14 Overall would be a win?
KH: While popular names like Adreian Payne, Nik Stauskas, and Doug McDermott are going to be floated out more publicly, two other prospects to look at more intriguing to me. Elfrid Payton of Louisiana-Lafayette is a dynamic two-way point guard that has good size and length. He could be the first guard off the bench now and insurance for later on. The other is Zach LaVine from UCLA, hyper athletic combo guard with worlds of potential. Now that the Suns have a streamlined D-League affiliate there is a home for LaVine to develop for the next season and a half.
ML: Nik Stauskas. While the Suns do not have a glaring hole at the 2, they certainly lack depth there. The idea of bringing in another shooter with a real handle is tantalizing to pair with either half of the Slash Brothers on the second unit.
SS: Adreian Payne would be my pick right now. His ability to score inside and out, his length (7'4" wingspan), his defense and rebounding, and his character all match perfectly with what we need in Phoenix. I think he is undervalued, and will rise in the Mocks before the draft ... He would be a steal at 14.
JP: Like Sean, I really like how Adreian Payne would fit on this team. He's a bit of a mix between Channing Frye and Markieff Morris with more athleticism. I know everyone loves Archie Goodwin, and I do too, but Gary Harris would be tempting if he's there as well.
4. Who is the one prospect that if they fell, realistically, that would be the homerun pick-up for the Suns?
ML: I don't see any home runs falling to the Suns. I'll pile on the Aaron Gordon/Doug McDermott bandwagon. I think it's more likely that all the sure-fire big guns are off the board by 14.
SS: My favorite would be Aaron Gordon, but I don't see any chance of him falling to the Suns at #14 ... It won't happen. But a player like Adreian Payne who I think is mocked much lower than his true value would be a homerun at #14. He has a skill set that fits like a glove with the Suns' system. Others I like are Zach LaVine, and Nik Stauskas
JP: Again, I agree with Sean on Aaron Gordon. He'd bring the high level athleticism and defensive ability that would really help the Suns take the next step. He's probably not falling, though. I'd also love to get Doug McDermott, but that's probably not happening either any more after he tested out so well athletically.
KH: While at this point I think the "anti-hype machine" has cooled down and people are remembering how good he is, it is unlikely he falls, but Marcus Smart is that guy. He is the same insurance as Payton (see above) and could play with either Bledsoe or Dragic long-term. Two-way combo guard that has to tool his shooting, but can just about everything else at a high level.
5. What do the Suns have to do to avoid coming out on the short end of the 2014 NBA Draft?
SS: I trade up if at all possible. There are some great prospects who may go in the late lottery and mid to late first round, but the talent pool in the 5-10 range where the Suns could possibly move into will be even better, where players like Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Dante Exum, and James Young could all be targets would make this draft that much better. Still, if the Suns do stay put, players like Adreian Payne, Zach LaVine, Rodney Hood, and Nik Stauskas are all players who could end up being steals depending on where they are picked...so the Suns could still manage to hit some homeruns even if they don't make any moves at all
JP: Don't sell the picks, for one. Don't draft any busts, for another. Other than that, they should come out fine. It's difficult to "come up short" when you have so many picks.
KH: If they move up with a package it has to be into the Top 8 or it is not worth the move. This is an right prospect draft and what they can get between 9-14 are relatively similar in talent and ceiling. So if Charlotte, Denver, Philly, Orlando, or Minnesota come a calling wanting No. 14 + an asset then dial tone should be the only appropriate response.
ML: I would say don't mortgage the future for a 1-year rental. If the Suns move multiple first round picks for a player who can hit the free agent market next year, then that's the shortest possible end of the stick. With 3 first rounders, I think Ryan McDonough and company are bound to hit on on at least one of them... right?
BONUS: Was it just me or do you already miss Adam Silver at the podium for the NBA Draft Lottery? This year's second round of the NBA Draft is going to be a bummer...
JP: Who is going to announce the picks? I don't even know who replaced him when Silver took over as commissioner.
KH: (Stealing from Mike here) I did miss the Mr. McMahon style Stern delivery on the microphone like he did at the 2013 NBA Draft. The Silver comes up and gets roars of cheers. Now? Well it will take a year or two for the new car smell to wear off of Silver and for us to remember that Mark tatum is the new NBA Deputy Commissioner. Will Silver be the new McMahon? Mike Adamle? Ric Flair? Mick Foley? Okay, I will stop embarrassing myself now...
ML: It didn't even occur to me who was announcing the picks for the draft lottery. I was just kind of excited at the prospect of the Suns stealing a top 3 pick and Minnesota's pick. I will kind of miss Stern's WWE villain delivery of the names and the draft though.
SS: My excitement for the draft will be determined solely on the players available, and the moves being made (or lack thereof). I'm hoping for some action from our front office, and I think they'll deliver.
Bright Siders, what do you think?