Every year, the GMs for the SB Nation blogs enter into a mock draft where we are allowed to make trades with each other (as long as there's at least one 2016 first round pick moving) as part of a massive, blockbuster Mock Draft.
Yesterday, I detailed the first couple of trades the Bright Side front office made, resulting in the Suns landing both Dragan Bender and Jaylen Brown at the expense of Brandon Knight and the 4th and 28th picks.
After that, the Suns still owned the #13 and #34 picks in the 2016 Mock Draft.
Today's article chronicles PART 2 of the Bright Side wheelings and dealings in the first round. With Bender and Brown aboard, along with Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Alex Len and Archie Goodwin - all 23 or under next season - we at Bright Side figured it was time to go young.
So for the rest of the first round, we focused on the potential of trading veterans and setting up a young roster for the 2016-17 season that would compete for a high draft again next year in a much stronger draft.
Let's go through the rest of the first round mock right now.
After taking Dragan Bender with the #3 pick and Jaylen Brown with the #8 pick, the Suns still had #13 ready and waiting. But who would we take?
Looking at team needs, I ruled out shooting guard, small forward and power forward at this point. I had to make an assumption that Bogdan Bogdanovic was still a possibility to join the Suns in 2016-17. And even so, with Devin Booker we already had a developing 35+ minute shooting guard for a next 10 years. So, I didn't want to take a SG with the 13th pick who would battle for minutes or get stuck on the bench like Archie Goodwin.
I ruled out small forward at 13 as well. T.J. Warren and Jaylen Brown are a perfect pairing at SF for the next half decade or more.
And finally, I did not want another pure power forward from this same draft. For Bender to succeed, you can't bring in power forward competition so Henry Ellenson and Skal Labissiere were off the table. I'd rather acquire/sign a veteran to fill minutes while Bender progressed.
By the time the Suns were on the clock at 13, the Bright Side front office was lukewarm on the available options at center and point guard. We felt that Jackson and Baldwin were career backups, and that there were point guard prospects available later in the first round that were comparable. And with Deyonta Davis and Jakob Poeltl already gone, the remaining center prospects were not worth the #13 pick and/or would still be available later.
So we decided to try to trade down. I thought maybe the Suns could acquire a good young veteran player instead. But I quickly found out that the other GMs were of the same mind - the players in the 20s are just as talented as the players in the teens.
I tried but failed to acquire Danilo Gallinari, for example, but did not want to give up T.J. Warren in the process. In fact, earlier in the draft I'd been offered a package of Orlando youth for Suns youth and high picks, but the BSotS front office and I did not think Victor Oladipo or Elfrid Payton's futures were any brighter than T.J. Warren or Jaylen Brown. That's a toss up, so I'm okay if you disagree on that point. Oladipo in particular was considered a nice option at 6th man, but we did not want to do anything to upset the apple cart of Devin Booker's future or team chemistry.
But anyway, by the time we got to #13, the Orlando options were off the table. So were other options I tossed out there for 25-and-under players who would fit Booker/Bender timeline.
Eventually, we agreed that we still wanted to trade down to 19 for the warm body of Joffrey Lauvergne and the potential of big, Spanish PG Nikola Radicevic who may or may not ever come to the NBA but has some nice measurables.
I kept pounding the pavement for trades, especially to unload our remaining veterans to help the 2016-17 season be even more about development and rebuilding. There's really no reason to keep Tyson Chandler on a team that's developing Bender, Brown and Booker. Same for P.J. Tucker.
I had an offer on the table that would return John Henson (four years, $12 million per year) for the contract of Tyson Chandler and the #19 pick. In real life, I might have made that trade.
Some of the BSotS front office wanted Tyler Ulis at 19, but I flatly declined. There's no way I'd bring in Devin Booker's undertalented, undersized best friend, only to see him unceremoniously traded in a bigger package in the next year and leave Booker fuming in Phoenix. Sorry, just not gonna go down that road.
In the end, we decided to take a raw center prospect in Cheick Diallo - who I personally think is going to be a good NBA player - rather than swap Chandler for Henson. I can always try to trade Chandler later in the summer. Diallo is a good add to the Suns young timeline. He's got a 7'4" wingspan with the talent to be a plus defender in space and at the rim. He just needs to add an offensive game.
We also considered other point guards here, but this seemed a bit high to take Gary Payton II (a Kellan Olson favorite) or Dejounte Murray (a mock draft darling lately who seems to have a lottery promise already sewn up).
We also considered a draft-and-stash, but that seemed anticlimactic.
Frankly, in real life, I'd have likely either taken the Chandler deal or taken a Euro prospect to follow overseas for the next three years. But this is a mock draft, and it's always fun to add immediate talent.
Diallo it is.
Payton in, Tucker out
At this point, I was out of first round draft picks. In real life, adding Bender, Brown and Diallo to Booker, Len, Warren and Goodwin was already too much. I should have just sat out the rest of the first round and taken a Euro with pick #34 and been done with it.
But this is a mock draft, so I didn't do that. I was still trolling for moves to offload veterans who would not want to be part of the rebuild at this point. Chandler and Bledsoe turned out to be tougher to move than I thought.
I had two offers ready for Tucker though. One was to take Paul Pierce's retiring contract (one year, $3.3 million) and the #25 for Tucker. The other was to trade Tucker and #34 for #28 and a later second round pick.
I took the higher pick offer, and swapped Tucker for #25.
With #25, we took Kellan's favorite replacement for the otherwise irreplaceable Ronnie Price. Gary Payton II is 24 year old point guard prospect who cannot score and barely makes capable passes, but has good length, defends like a demon and will bring maturity and moxie to a young Suns team.
Final Word on Part 2
While part one of the mock draft was a big hit, I expect I'll get a lot more lukewarm reviews on Part 2.
- Cheick Diallo
- Gary Payton II
- Joffrey Lauvergne
- Nikola Radicevic
- Paul Pierce (likely retiring but easily bought out if not)
- P.J. Tucker
Now the Suns roster is a bit of a smorgasbord, but at least it's got some more intrigue than last year's team. And hey, if Bogdan Bogdanovic comes over to the NBA and plays in Summer League along with Bender, the Suns can roll out AN ENTIRE STARTING LINEUP of first round rookies next month!
With the contracts of Williams, Jenkins, Marble, Ilyasova and Lauvergne all non-guaranteed, the Suns could have a July 1 roster that looks like this.
- PG Eric Bledsoe, Gary Payton II (R)
- SG Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin, Bogdan Bogdanovic (R - ?)
- SF T.J. Warren, Jaylen Brown (R)
- PF Dragan Bender (R)
- C Alex Len, Tyson Chandler, Cheick Diallo (R)
The trades, even with the bought-out Pierce included, give the Suns $42 million to spend in free agency to fill in the power forward spot with someone who play while Bender develops and someone to back up Bledsoe at point guard.
They also need to spend the summer finding a new home for Tyson Chandler, and potentially finding a young established veteran to add to the Suns young core going forward.
Is that better than 2015-16? Probably not. But does the team have a brighter future now? I think so.