By virtue of the Suns trade with the Celtics, in which the team traded away Isaiah Thomas, the Suns possess the 28th pick in this year's draft.
This will be the third first round pick of the draft for the Suns. It is pretty rare for a team to have this many 1st round picks, particularly with two of them in the lottery.
Questions exist about whether the Suns can actually absorb three rookie players on a team that is already stacked high with young talent. Many believe that the Suns are likely to use at least one of the first round picks on a draft and stash candidate, in order to ease the potential burden on the roster. There are even rumors the Suns may trade at least one of the picks.
Whatever the Suns decide to do, the most likely outcome is, as it always is, that the team will make all of its draft picks. Despite the sentiment that it seems like conditions are lining up perfectly for a year of heavy movement in the draft, the evidence is that draft picks are moved this late only relatively rarely.
Assuming the Suns are going to make this pick, the staff have a few preferences as to how the team decides to go.
1.) Zhou Qi - PF/C, Xinjiang (China)
2.) Damian Jones - C, Vanderbilt
3.) Brice Johnson - PF, North Carolina
4.) Cheik Diallo - PC/C, Kansas
5.) Petr Cornelie - PC/C, Le Mans (France)
1.) Cheik Diallo
2.) DeAndre Bembry - SF, St. Joseph's
3.) Juan Hernangomez - SF, Estudiantes (Spain)
4.) Petr Cornelie
5.) Gary Payton II - PG, Oregon State
1.) Zhou Qi
2.) Petr Cornelie
3.) Juan Hernangomez
4.) Ante Zizic - C, Cibona (Croatia)
5.) Cheik Diallo
1.) Zhou Qi
2.) Thon Maker - PF/C, Australia
3.) Brice Johnson
4.) Patrick McCaw - SG, UNLV
5.) Dejounte Murray - PG/SG, Washington
1.) Zhou Qi
2.) DeAndre Bembry
3.) Petr Cornelie
4.) Cheik Diallo
5.) Brice Johnson
As you can tell from that list, there is not much consensus as to who should be picked at 28. A few names appear more often than the rest - Petr Cornelie, the rangy PF from France, and Cheik Diallo, the big man out of Kansas who played sparingly during the regular season but really wowed at the Draft Combine
Cornelie continues to sit high on draft boards. At 6'11, but with a silky smooth outside shooting stroke and a surprising level of lateral movement speed, Cornelie seems like the perfect draft and stash candidate at this point in the draft.
It was not long ago that Diallo was projected to be a late lottery pick before he entered his first (and only) rocky season with the Jayhawks. It was even more recently that there was serious thought that he would withdraw from the draft. But Diallo was highly impressive at the Draft Combine, and that obviously helped his stock. There is some thought he might be able to sneak up into the late teens if his workouts go well.
Sean, Dave, Owen and I have Zhou Qi as our top priority pick. Qi, who just wrapped up his season in the CBA, is an uber-long but rail thin center out of China who has an interesting ability to stretch the floor and block shots.
Kellan and I both have DeAndre Bembry at the number two spot on our big boards. Bembry, despite being an upperclassmen, is a relative unknown among casual college basketball fans, as he played for St. Joseph's. Bembry is the real deal, however. At 6'6, with a great frame, a quick first step and uncanny court vision, Bembry represents the option for an immediate contributor at the SF position, one who might make PJ Tucker expendable. Bembry has drawn comparisons to Tucker among the staff.
Finally, both Sean and I have Brice Johnson on our big boards for this pick. Johnson, a senior PF out of North Carolina, is a bit of a prototypical PF. In a draft dominated by bigs who can stretch the floor, Johnson is a throwback: a very athletic PF with explosive leaping ability and a developed inside scoring game, but little-to-no record of floor stretching capacity. As a senior, Johnson again represents a player who can come in and contribute right away. The question is, what is his ceiling? The hope would probably be for a high flying role player with a penchant for rebounding, put-back scoring and pick and role plays, not unlike former Suns Lou Amundson and Brandan Wright.
Those are the thoughts of the staff for this pick. Who do you think the Suns should take? What do your big boards look like?