Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
The Suns have the 4th pick in this year's draft. To put it bluntly, it sucks that they dropped from 2nd to 4th after the lottery but it is what it is. In a year with a strong draft class it certainly isn't a catastrophe. The Suns will still have the chance to draft a player who can have a big impact on their future. Markelle Fultz is off the table. There is just no way he will drop down to be available with the 4th pick but the various draft "experts" aren't in agreement on who might be selected past the 1st spot in the draft this year (and there is at least one who thinks that Fultz might drop as far as 3rd... I don't believe it but there it is).
A lot of people want Josh Jackson, there are a good number that also want De'Aaron Fox and there are quite a few who want someone else entirely with the 4th pick. I've turned it over to our Fantable to see what they think with the question...
Who are your top three choices for the Suns to draft with the 4th pick?
GuarGuar: There are so many different ways the Suns could go this draft. However it really comes down to whether we take a point guard or small forward. I think how management views Bledsoe influences this decision. With that said here is my list:
1) Josh Jackson - I think this is pretty clear he is one of the best prospects in this draft. There are rumors he might drop to 4 and that would be awesome. His defensive upside is through the roof and I do believe he puts it together offensively in time. He drastically improved shooting the ball at Kansas halfway through the college season (which is only like a month and a half in!). He still has a little bit of a hitch but to be honest I think his jumper translates in the NBA eventually. He is already a good slasher and I think that is the best part of his offensive game right now. He has tremendous athleticism and can jump through a roof. There is no reason this kid doesn’t turn out into a good NBA player. His fit would be great here on a team that desperately needs to improve their defense.
2) Dennis Smith Jr - This kid has tremendous upside and can really become a star in this league. He has unbelievable explosiveness and athleticism. Smith can finish through contact well, solid in a PnR, great in transition and has a good jumpshot. There have been many comparisons to Eric Bledsoe around here an I see the merit in them but I don’t think they are very accurate. DSJ is a MUCH better shooter than Bledsoe ever was at that age. His shooting ability opens up a range of offensive moves/abilities that Bled never had at 19. His defense isn’t as bad as some make it out to be, and I definitely feel he has the physical tools to be a solid guard defender. If McDonough decides it’s time to cash in Bled, I hope they pick DSJ to fill in the role.
3) Jayson Tatum - Tatum isn’t getting the credit I feel he deserves right now. He arguably has the best offensive game coming out of the draft. He can create his own shot and score in a variety of ways. His 3 pointer is still developing but I think it will be just fine as he has the right mechanics it’s just a matter of repetition. His defense is a work in progress like many of the other prospects in this draft. If McDonough decides to keep Bledsoe, Tatum would be my #1 forward (if Jackson is gone) to go with. Some people on here have said taking Tatum is pointless because he is too similar to TJ Warren. This could not be more false IMO. TJ Warren is an off ball player who thrives in chaos like situations and you don’t run plays/sets for. Jayson Tatum is an on ball player who you can give the ball to and say “Go score”. Completely different offensive games.
Sun-Arc: I have to first consider who will be drafted 1-3.
Fultz is going #1, no matter who has the pick and I think LA will either take Ball, Jackson, or Fox - but I’ll go with Ball here because I think the lure for Magic Johnson is too great.
Philly then will likely choose between Jackson, Fox, Tatum and trading down - but I think they go with Fox here to play a defensive slashing PG next to Simmons’ passing ability.
Now it comes to the Suns. If Jackson is there, I think he’s the pick if he performs well in workouts and interviews. If he doesn’t perform well (not shooting well, doesn’t project well as a defensive leader, serious character flaws, etc) I could certainly see the team passing on him. But until I know otherwise, if he’s available I think the Suns take him.
If Jackson is gone or not our guy and Fox is there, I think he may very well be the pick. I do not think Ball will be the guy they take even if he’s there at 4 simply because he has so many flaws. Fox is athletic, long, fast as hell, loves contact, and is very defensively minded. Fox’s amazing speed when running at the rim and in transition fits the team pretty well. And we need defense next to Booker. I just wish he could shoot better and was more pass-first. But there is not one player in this draft that doesn’t have flaws outside of Fultz, so we go BPA.
If both those players are gone or McD does not want either of them, the choices get tougher. Play it relatively safe and take a scoring savant like Tatum, or a great outside shooter with Monk? Or swing for the fences with a player like Isaac or Ntikilina? Both of these guys show so much potential it has me salivating. But I also feel the team *cannot afford to fail* in this draft and either has serious bust potential. If Ryan whiffs in this draft he’ll pay with his head. And thus I am cooling on Ryan taking one of them at #4.
Dark Horse picks: I could see Ryan taking Tatum IF he performs well in workouts and interviews, possibly over anyone else. Smith is another potential grab, but I’m not high on him and even Draftexpress has him at #8 behind Isaac. If Monk blew Ryan & Co. away with his workouts and interviews, and they don’t really like anyone else, it could be the tiny chance Monk becomes our pick. He’s only #6 on DX, so not really a crazy reach at #4.
If Ryan really doesn’t like anyone that much at #4 I could see trading the pick in a massive trade for a star (Butler or George). OR trading down along with other assets to have two lottery picks-- possibly both of Sac’s picks, for instance. What if we traded #4, Bledsoe, both our 2nd round picks this year plus a future Miami first rounder. I think Sac might just do that.
SDKyle: 1. Josh Jackson. It's far from a sure thing he's available at #4, but some mocks are showing that he will be, so I'm going with it. I view Jackson as a guy who can contribute pretty soon with his passing and defense, and who has the upside offensively with a developing jumpshot and stellar athleticism to become something along the lines of a Shawn Marion. His length isn't ideal, his free throw shooting sucks right now, and he needs to add some weight, but his on-court ability is potentially enormous as a two-way player. His off-court issues are essentially resolved at this point so long as he fulfills the terms of his diversion agreement, and I'm in the camp that says we shouldn't pass up on a mammoth talent because he isn't a saint off the court.
2. Johnathan Isaac. Isaac is a guy who I don't think will be able to contribute as early as Jackson can, and isn't the same freak quality of athlete that Jackson is despite being definitely quite athletic himself. That said, he has ideal length and the skill set to potentially be a Kevin Durant-style oversized SF, though he is obviously unlikely to ever be a KD level of scorer....because so few are. I don't have any major concerns about him, but he's a project.
3. DeAaron Fox. I'm a guy who still wants to give Bledsoe a chance, but I'm intrigued by Fox as a player who could be in the mix for us. He improved a lot in his year at Kentucky, and his athleticism and size are fantastic. He's also probably a bit of a project in becoming an NBA caliber shooter and distributor, but he's got sky-high potential as a two-way player.
Paul: Like most of Suns fandom, now that Fultz is a virtual impossibility, my top choice is Josh Jackson (and not just so I can get a custom Jersey that says “Pacey” on the back. He brings a skillset that the Suns severely need on the wing. A combo of Jackson and Bledsoe could help hide Booker’s defensive shortcomings. I know Bledsoe has fallen off a bit defensively since his injuries, but he can still be above average. Jackson is also a very willing passer. Being able to play a line up including Bledsoe, Booker, Jackson and Bender, with Chriss slashing to the rim for lobs and dunks, could be a really fun line up to watch with a lot of unselfishness full of ball movement and open shots.
I became enamored with De’Aaron Fox during this year’s NCAA tournament. Drafting Fox would most likely mean that the Suns would be moving on from Bledsoe, but it could be a move that could bear a ton of fruit for the Suns. Fox has a lot of potential on both sides of the ball. Like Jackson, his defensive potential could help hide Booker on defense, and his court vision and shot improved over his one season at Kentucky. I have seen him compared to both Mike Conley and John Wall, two players that I’m a huge fan of. If he can turn into a player even remotely close to that level the Suns would have one of the best back courts in the league. There is a part of me that would like to see if the Suns can trade Bledsoe to the 76ers for the 3rd pick, then pick up both Fox and Jackson. It’s probably a pipe dream, but a boy can dream? Can’the?
I’m really stretching to find a third player that I really like in this draft that isn’t going to be off the board before the Suns draft. The other players that are projected to be in the Suns’ range all overlap with areas where the Suns already have either established players, or have already filled with players with potential that need time to develop. The Suns have been dealing with logjams everywhere for the past few seasons. No need in creating another one. Jason Tatum doesn’t bring anything to the table that Warren doesn’t already bring. Jonathan Isaac overlaps with Bender and Chriss. Malik Monk would just be backing up Booker. I understand the philosophy of drafting Best Player Available, and not drafting for need. But that doesn’t mean that you should draft a player where you already have multiple players looking to develop as it is. If for some reason Jackson and Fox are off the board, I wouldn’t hate the Suns trading back and picking up some other assets, or maybe an already established player.
To sum things up: Josh Jackson is our Fantable's #1 choice in the draft this year. Of course Jackson might be selected by Philly with the 3rd pick and then we have two members who believe that De'Aaron Fox should be our choice with one selecting Dennis Smith Jr and the other selecting Jonathan Isaac. The third choice is all over the place and deservedly so since the Suns have the 4th pick in the draft and it's extremely unlikely that both of our Fantable's 1st and 2nd choices will be taken before the Suns get to make their pick.
Once again, many thanks to our Fantable... GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and Paul!
The Suns will start pre-draft workouts TODAY!
Look down to the "News & Notes" section for more in Doug Haller's article. We not only have the 4th pick in this year's draft but also the 32nd and 54th picks in the second round to fill. Expect to hear much more about these workouts here at BSotS in the near future.
2016-17 Season Highlights
Suns vs Trail Blazers (Nov. 2) - Full Highlights.
Eric Bledsoe scores 40 points against Toronto
Quote of the Week
"The type of person that has the best character. Regardless of position, character is the most important part. The talent is always going to be there. If you get character with talent, that’s when you have an (Eric) Bledsoe, that’s when you have a Devin Booker. Character gets you through tough times. And it also gets you through adversity and it allows you to make leaps and bounds quickly through development and eventually the team wins." - Earl Watson when asked what he looked for in a top NBA draft prospect.
News & Notes
Suns to start NBA draft workouts Monday. Doug Haller/AZCentral
Could Suns pass over Josh Jackson in NBA draft because of off-court issue? Doug Haller/AZCentral
Will Josh Jackson fall to the Suns in the 2017 NBA Draft? A 76ers beat writer isn’t so sure. Arizona Sports
The Phoenix Suns best option for the 2017 NBA Draft. ISportsWeb
Eric Bledsoe among the NBA’s most wanted summer trade targets. Arizona Sports
NBA draft: Phoenix Suns are in a great position. Blasting News
NBA draft: Suns' possible 2nd-round targets include Oregon's Dillon Brooks. Doug Haller/AZCentral
The only major statistical category that Steve Nash does not rank in the top 20 in Suns' history is blocks. He is 1st in assists (6,997), 1st in three point shots made (744), 7th in total points (10,712), 10th in steals (511) and 16th in rebounds (2,293). Steve had a total of 67 blocks during his 10 years as a Sun which did not rank in the top 50.
Speaking of blocks... current Sun Alex Len ranks 12th in in the all-time number of blocks by a Suns player with 283 in four seasons. He has quite a way to go to catch up to Larry Nance who is the #1 shot blocker in Suns history with 940 in his seven seasons with the Suns.
Statistics courtesy of Land of Basketball.com.
This week in Suns History
On May 30, 1976 Phoenix rookie center Alvan Adams scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 105-98 Game 3 victory over Boston in the NBA Finals.
On June 4, 1976 Gar Heard hits "The Shot Heard Round the World" in game 5 of the NBA Finals vs Boston to force a third overtime.
Previewing the Weeks/Months Ahead
Pre-draft workouts start TODAY, May 29.
Draft date, June 22nd.
Summer League play, July 1st - 17th.
Free Agency begins July 1st.
Last Week's Poll Results
The question was, "Is the NBA lottery rigged??" The results were:
55% - Yes
24% - No
20% - Maybe
There were a total of 581 votes cast.
This week's poll is...
Who do you want the Suns to draft with the #4 pick?
This poll is closed
Dennis Smith Jr