With March Madness in full swing right now, it’s time to bring out another mock draft as we inch closer towards what is arguably becoming one of the most important nights in Suns history on May 15.
Will the lottery balls finally fall Phoenix’s way? For everyone’s sake, possibly jobs in the Suns’ front office, they sure hope they land in the top two.
If you missed out on Lottery Mock Draft 1.0, check it out here.
The mock draft will be based off fit alone, not off of my big board rankings. Lottery Big Board 3.0 will be released soon, but let's dive into how this mock scenario played out for the Suns and others.
1. Memphis: Deandre Ayton, Big, Arizona
At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that Deandre Ayton will be the number one pick, even though I believe Doncic is the better prospect. If I try to play fortune teller here, Marc Gasol ends up wanting out anyways and he’s dealt with on the draft night once they take Ayton for an additional first off of somebody.
Ayton’s first-round exit with Arizona showcased his major flaw in his armor and that’s rim protection. I’ve come to the conclusion that he has no real instincts there, and that’s concerning. That could cap his overall two-way ceiling, but if his floor ends up somewhere around DeMarcus Cousins, then that’s worth taking at the top.
It’s very hard to peg what Memphis will do at this stage because they fooled around with Tyreke Evans at the trade deadline who knows what their management is doing. For now, Ayton is a Grizzly but Doncic will be in heavy consideration if they want to retool with Gasol and Mike Conley.
2. Phoenix: Luka Doncic, Ball Handler, Real Madrid
If Ayton is off the board, that’s okay with me. Doncic is an immediate impact who could serve as the final piece to vault #TheTimeline forward. He’s a wizard with ball handling abilities and has a knack for seeing reads a few switches ahead with regularity. For a 6’7” wing/guard, Doncic will be able to transform the Suns’ backcourt alongside Devin Booker.
Dependent on what coach is hired here, a trio of Doncic-Booker-Jackson is a scary thought if developed by the right coaching staff.
3. Orlando: Jaren Jackson Jr., Big, Michigan State
I waffled back-and-forth between JJJ and Bamba, but I ended up going with Jackson due to his positional versatility and offensive potential that hasn’t been fully refined at Michigan State.
Trae Young was heavily in consideration here but I went BPA for a team who desperately needs to hit on a star. JJJ has all the makings of the next KAT if he’s able to be molded correctly.
4. Atlanta: Michael Porter Jr., Wing, Missouri
Even with Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry, MPJ would immediately breathe life back into Atlanta. From day one he would be their top option as a scorer and be able to stretch teams consistently out as a 4 or even a small-ball 5 in spurts.
Adding Porter Jr. alongside Mike Budenholzer sounds like an ideal scenario for both parties. If this is how the board plays out on draft night, the Hawks should run up the card to Adam Silver.
5. Cleveland (via Brooklyn): Trae Young, Ball Handler, Oklahoma
After Atlanta nabbed up their hopeful LeBron replacement, the Cavs settle for Young over Bagley. That debate will be heavy in their front office, but I think Young has the ability to maximize others around him. Also, LeBron is on record a fan of Young so this honestly might help him stay if he gets his new Kyrie Irving to pass the keys off too when he’s ready down the line.
Owner Dan Gilbert and GM Koby Altman have been to a ton of Oklahoma games this season, so they might be locking in on him if they wind up at No. 5.
6. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley III, Big, Duke
For Bagley, this might be one of the better scenarios for him. Alongside De’Aaron Fox, that could form a nasty 1-2 combination that would be like if John Wall and prime Amar’e Stoudemire ever teamed up.
The more I watch of Bagley, the more I come away thinking he is the next STAT. Both are so dominant on offense, but their defense capped their overall ceiling. Amar’e was never able to fully see his peak due to injuries, so how could Bagley wind up?
He’s beating everyone with his athleticism at Duke, but will he have a rough adjustment similar to how Josh Jackson did at his onset? Either way, the Kings are doing backflips if they wind up with MB3.
7. Dallas: Mohamed Bamba, Big, Texas
Bamba and Dennis Smith Jr. is an ideal pairing long-term. It’s honestly one of my favorite overall fits from a team-prospect angle.
Dallas is far away from contending so they will allow Bamba and DSJ to grow into their primary roles under a great coach in Rick Carlisle.
8. Chicago: Wendell Carter Jr., Big, Duke
I’ve considered going with Carter above Bagley on Lottery Big Board 3.0 because I know that he has a safer floor than MB3. Carter has proven time and time again that he has the makings of becoming Al Horford 2.0 with his innate passing ability for a big man plus even better rim protection skills than what Horford displayed at Florida.
Carter has pulled off a Porzingis a few times this season (block a shot at the rim and hit a 3 right afterward) and his fit in Chicago alongside Lauri Markannen could allow both to further reach their maximum ceilings. Where Markkanen struggles, Carter will be able to pick up the slack.
If you add Carter alongside the core of Markkanen, LaVine, and Dunn that has a sneaky feeling of a playoff push next season if they attack free agency correctly. That’s asking a lot from John Paxson and Gar Forman, though.
9. New York: Mikal Bridges, Wing, Villanova
I’ve said it multiple times this season, but if there’s one prospect I love the idea of Phoenix trading up for it is Mikal Bridges. In today’s NBA, 3-and-D lanky wings are prioritized. Bridges fits that mold perfectly to the point where, like Carter, I have a hard time seeing how he has a low ceiling on the next level.
As we saw today against Alabama, Bridges can get hot in a hurry. He has a shooting stroke that’s going to immediately translate (he’s a career 40+% shooter on 3s). Pair him alongside Kristaps Porzingis and that has the makings of starting to finally build a solid foundation in the Big Apple.
10. Charlotte: Collin Sexton, Ball Handler, Alabama
Like I did in 1.0, Sexton is slotted to Charlotte. I keep coming back to this one because the Hornets will have new management after this season. This is an ideal time to hit the reset button and trade Kemba Walker.
If this is how it played out on draft night with Sexton sitting on the board, I think Charlotte starts taking calls right then for Kemba.
Teams like Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix all make sense if trade rumors floating out Kemba were to occur.
Suns, you listening?
11. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit): Miles Bridges, Wing, Michigan State
Even with Tobias Harris, I really love this fit for Miles Bridges in a Clippers uniform. He could become an ideal small-ball 4 allowing LA to start shopping around to get Danilo Gallinari’s contract off their books.
Bridges, much like the other Bridges selected earlier, will be an immediate impact on whoever he’s selected to. He has flashed enough two-way versatility that he could be earning 25+ minutes a night right off the bat.
For what culture it looks like they are trying to build out there, Bridges is a seamless addition.
12. Philadelphia (via Los Angeles Lakers): Lonnie Walker IV, Wing, Miami (FL)
I have Walker rated lower on my own board, which will be released soon, but for a team like Philadelphia who desperately needs shooters, this could be there Plan B after Mikal.
After moving into a starting role in conference play, Walker blossomed into a microwave scorer who could take over a game at any moment. He reminds me so much of a younger J.R. Smith without the antics.
Whether he starts or comes off the bench with the Sixers, Walker could be the scoring punch that’s needed to take them over the top towards making a run at the Eastern Conference Finals next season.
13. Denver: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ball Handler, Kentucky
Jamal Murray could turn into a better playmaker down the line, but he’s more of a natural shooting guard to me like Booker. Drafting a crafty playmaker who knows how to change speeds in Gilgeous-Alexander would bring a different dynamic Denver doesn’t have on their roster.
Standing at 6’6” with a 7’ wingspan, SGA fits the new mold of how point guards are turning into. He not only has the makings of a plus playmaker on the next level but a plus defender, too.
Placing Gilgeous-Alexander alongside Murray and Gary Harris gives the Nuggets an even brighter outlook moving forward.
14. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams, Big, Texas A&M
After selecting Miles Bridges, the Clippers attack finding their DeAndre Jordan replacement. They find one who might be a carbon copy, but a better fit for today’s pace-and-space dynamic, in Robert Williams.
Williams has less size on him than Jordan but he makes up for it with his speed and athleticism he displays on a nightly basis for the Aggies.
Turns out, Jerry West now has turned Blake Griffin into Harris, Boban, Bridges, and Williams. That’s a home run for the contract they originally agreed upon with Griffin.
15. Phoenix (via Miami): Daniel Gafford, Big, Arkansas
After LA selected Williams, they scoop up Gafford right after to fill their need down low. Mitchell Robinson would be in heavy consideration here as well, but I went for the bigger upside grab in my mind.
Even though Gafford is very raw on both ends, under the tutelage of Tyson Chandler for a season could be the best thing for him.
He’s displayed outrageous physical gifts on both ends whether it’s poster windmill dunks or soaring out of nowhere for a block. I’m higher on Gafford compared to others, but his relentless motor is a positive sign for me when trying to grade out these prospects.
If the Suns were to select Doncic, Gafford makes a whole lot of sense if they were to address their big man need later on.
16. Phoenix (via Milwaukee): Troy Brown, Wing, Oregon
Want to fill the versatility mold I always discuss? Take the BPA route here and draft Troy Brown. McDonough has seen Brown in-person when Oregon traveled to Arizona State earlier this season, so we at least know there’s interest there.
Brown is a unique prospect because he actually has played point guard through the majority of his high school and AAU career before switching to wing under Dana Altman. That is what makes Brown stand out in the mid-first, though, because he brings more to the table compared to others.
It’s possible that Brown could showcase himself and vault up into the lottery, but if not the Suns could cap off their third pick in the top 16 by selecting a player who fits the archetype they are looking for with versatile, positionless defenders who can shoot as well.
If Brown’s shot comes along at a quicker rate, he could bring an immediate lift to a rotation who’s in dire need of overall team length.
If the Suns were to walk out of draft night with Doncic, Gafford, and Brown that is a huge step towards creating a contender. If they decide to completely overhaul the bottom half of the roster, keeping all three of these prospects around could make some sense, but as McDonough has mentioned before they only plan on bringing in 2-3 young guys tops.
Without factoring in the unpredictability of trades, Phoenix would get an A grade out of me in this scenario.
De’Andre Hunter out of Virginia would have been selected in front of Brown, but his broken wrist before the NCAA tournament brings a cloud over whether he declares or not. If he doesn’t, odds are he boosts his stock into the top 10 by this time next season.
How should the Suns attack draft night? Let me know in the comments section below.