If you look at the teams leading the pack in terms of a young core, they've struck gold at some point outside the top-10 of the draft. Rudy Gobert was selected 27th by the Jazz, Giannis Antetokounmpo was selected 15th by the Bucks, and Nik Vucevic was selected 16th overall by Philly before turning into a monster for the Magic. Even the Timberwolves with their three No. 1 overall picks have done this when they traded No. 9 overall Trey Burke for No. 14 Shabazz Muhammad and No. 21 Gorgui Dieng.
Picks like this are so valuable because when they hit they can change the course of a franchise. That's what Gobert did for the Jazz in the second half of the season and what the Greek Freak might do in Milwuakee with his limitless potential. Even minor instances like the Timberwolves and Jazz (Rodney Hood) getting some bench depth are critical.
This holds up for the current contenders. Examples like DeAndre Jordan, Draymond Green, Serge Ibaka, Tony Parker, Jeff Teague and Donatas Motiejunas prove this. We can also give the Grizzlies the Vucevic exception on Marc Gasol. Unless the best player in the world is born in your state, it looks like you have to get key pieces after No. 10 in the draft.
As you can see, there's tremendous impact for drafting successfully outside the top-10. The Suns did that already with Markieff Morris, but it doesn't look like he's sticking around. That leaves the Suns in a major jam, but they have some options to step up. My pick is Devin Booker.
Booker didn't come into the draft having any sort of buzz for star potential, but he showed some serious pieces of his game in Las Vegas.
The shooting guard's main appeal is how he shoots the lights out and he proved that to be true.
However, like many other people following the draft, I wasn't sure what else Booker was going to be able to do at the NBA level besides shoot. While this is just summer league, Booker showed that he is much more than that.
He showed that he could create space for himself and go off the dribble.
Attacking the basket didn't seem foreign to him, which really surprised me.
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He excelled coming off of screens and shooting on the catch.
He was fantastic from the corners, something that Eric Bledsoe will surely take advantage of.
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The most exciting part of his time in Vegas though was showing off his basketball IQ. This was partially shown in some of these clips, but here are some more simple plays.
Plays like seeing T.J. Warren opening up the lane for him and making the cut, spreading out the floor on a fastbreak for Warren behind him and still being able to finish when it wasn't there, delaying an extra second for the pick and pop to maximize space, and making multiple extra passes quickly on the perimeter are all the types of plays you want in the pace and space era.
The best part of Booker's IQ is that it's certainly going to translate to defense, where he gets in a really low stance and takes advantage of the space he can acquire when guarding someone. It's a simple thing really, but it must come more naturally to a second-generation player. He's going to be at least an average defender and that's crucial for an offensive talent like him.
The key bit of information here is that he doesn't turn 19 until the end of October. The amount of progression he could see from that age is something to get excited about. Even if he doesn't adjust right away, Suns fans shouldn't be worried. "Lolsummerleague" is a valid comeback here because Booker is certainly not going to see anything close to this level of success in his rookie season, but we got an awfully nice sneak peek of his skill set.
The Markieff Morris debacle is a setback in the Suns rebuild. Keef looked like a great third to fourth option for the Suns core going forward and was an original Suns selection at No. 13, but he's on the way out and now it's time to find that guy elsewhere. Archie Goodwin is competing with Booker for playing time, T.J. Warren will get his first real minutes this season, and we all know Bogdan Bogdanovic is coming.
Those are all players selected by the Suns outside of the top-10 and one of them needs to step up and be a key part of the future in order for the rebuild to take the next step. I think it's Booker.