The Phoenix Suns really liked two power forward prospects coming into the NBA Draft tonight and deliberated for days if not weeks over who to take.
So, they just decided to take both of them.
First, the Suns took Dragan Bender at #4 after he dropped past Boston. And then they made a trade with Sacramento Kings to draft Marquese Chriss as well!
The Suns draft war room erupted in claps and cheers two minutes before the news leaked of the Chriss trade. All of us in the media room/row just sat back and smiled, figuring something was going on.
Dragan Bender was just about to give his post-pick interview to ESPN when they found out, but apparently Bender already knew enough about it to comment.
"I mean," Bender said after the Chriss trade leaked. "It's always good for young guys that there's a couple guys on the team that are the same age. It's a good thing for Phoenix for sure. I guess it's going to be a really good thing in the long term."
The trade with the Kings sent the 13th and 28th picks in this draft, the Marcus Morris 2020 second round pick and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic in exchange for the 8th pick, with which they selected Marquese Chriss.
Note: So basically, the Suns traded Isaiah Thomas (28th pick), Markieff Morris (13th pick), Marcus Morris (2020 2nd round pick) and Bogdan's rights for Marquese Chriss
So, why would the Suns try to develop both Bender AND Chriss in the coming years? Both are young. Bender is just 18 while Chriss is just turning 19 this summer. Both will spend the majority of the 2016-17 season as 19 year old rookies. Both are multi-skilled in that they can shoot, score and defend but have not played a lot of high level basketball and so will experience some serious growing pains.
Could they actually play together, though?
Maybe. Many have hinted that Bender's skills fit at the 3 and the 4, while others have hinted that Chriss could play either position as well.
Both fit the mold of the modern NBA front court player in that they have a lot of small man skills in huge bodies. Chriss is 6'10" and already weighs 230+ pounds. Bender is 7'1" and rail-thin, but has a reputation of fighting hard on every play and using whatever muscle he has to get the board.
Reportedly, Bender is a great passer while Chriss is a great finisher. Could we see some alley-oops and pick-and-rolls in their future?
Here's ESPNs quick analysis