A steep narrative has been ingrained in Suns fans both through this platform and on other outlets:
We must draft Dragan Bender at #4 (if he is there) or snag a power forward at #13 at all costs.
Following a preordained strategy is a murky pursuit to undertake, and it can lead to tunnel vision when the time comes to select a prospect. The fourth pick will be easier since there are not as many scenarios capable of taking shape, but once thirteen rolls around, all bets are off. This is why I have always been a proponent of taking the best prospect available regardless of position. Give me the most talented guy and let's figure out how the puzzle pieces fit when the time comes.
Most of the mocks making the rounds in the blogosphere pin the Suns with taking either Bender, the divisive Marquese Chriss at four, or trading the pick entirely. There is some noise regarding Cal's Jaylen Brown, but not as much as one would expect given his skill set.
To me, I would take Brown and not look back. His NBA destiny is as a four-man or at the very least a combo forward that toggles between the three and the four. He is a stallion of an athlete, and possesses a killer handle for his size that will translate well to a freewheeling transition game:
Brown already has the defensive chops to corral darting guards along the perimeter while simultaneously manning post threats on the fly:
What am I missing here?
The questions about his shot are warranted; his 3-point percentage was a woeful 29 percent last season and he was inefficient all around the floor. But his mechanics are far from broken, and that percentage should continue to steadily increase once the Suns coaching staff gets their hands on him on a consistent basis. Most importantly, there is a desire within Brown to be a top player in the league, and he is not afraid to speak up about it.
"I am not concerned about being a top five player in the draft," Brown told Bright Side after his workout in Phoenix. "I want to be a top five player in the league."
Sign me up, Jaylen.
At thirteen, a slew of chatter has surrounded Phoenix taking the remaining prospect between Henry Ellenson, Domantas Sabonis, Jakob Poeltl or Skal Labissiere. All of these young guns are skilled in their own right, but I would not be flattered with their presence on my roster given the make up of today's NBA.
As the Finals have shown us, there is a uniform athleticism needed to contend at the highest level, and pursuing lead-footed big men just because power forward is a "need" could leave the Suns in the dust athletically. Why would a team that thirsts for playing in transition take the next David Lee in Sabonis?
Rather than reach on a position of need with the thirteenth pick, Phoenix should turn their attention to a well-rounded forward from Baylor by the name of Taurean Prince. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT.
Prince fits the profile of a flexible swing man that can switch defensive assignments along the perimeter, tussle with bigger brutes on the glass, and elevate the gravity of an offense by knocking down corner 3-pointers at a high clip. And if a defender lunges out on him without control, Prince can slide right on by into the lane and create for himself or his teammates:
These are all things that are coveted in today's game, and will undoubtedly forge Prince into a position to be successful regardless of where he ends up.
Hell, if the coaching staff and the front office have enough imagination -- and I think they do -- Prince could act as a nominal power forward on ultra shifty lineups featuring: Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker/Brandon Knight, Brown, Prince, and Alex Len/Tyson Chandler. Some combination of those five would be athletic, malleable, and provide just enough spacing to keep a defense honest.
That is what is so infuriating about the need to take a big man at #13 narrative; there are ways to work around not having a traditional big on the floor. Prince's fit into the modern NBA is seamless.
The most attractive part of Prince's game may honestly be his demeanor -- you can tell that he is a coachable individual that just wants to hoop.
"I am a basketball player. I don't really mind what they call me. It's not my job to worry about it. I am just here to do what I have to do in order to make a team and perform at the highest level to win games," Prince told Bright Side after his workout in Phoenix.
Hopefully I have laid out an attractive, yet alternative brand of thinking for you all. I am always weary this time of year because it is increasingly likely to fall under a spell of groupthink when it comes to evaluating prospects. It is not difficult to talk yourself into the thought of Bender as loads of esteemed pundits are staking claim to his potential.
My own contrary train of thought paints the drafting of Brown and Prince as the best course of action for the Suns. Many will disagree with that notion. And that is fine.
That is what makes the draft season fun. Nobody knows who the hell is going to pan out or bust. Grab a dart, cock it back, and hope you pierce the bulls eye.