Sometimes, we at Bright Side get the pleasure of guest writers sharing their thoughts on the team.
Today, we are fortunate enough to hear from Wesley Brown, a scout for the Texas Legends of the G-League. Wes grew up a Suns fan, and wants to share his insight on how a scout views the available draft, coach and free agent options for the Suns this offseason.
I listened to Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough’s exit interview and agreed that the Suns have rebuilt the right way with young talented draft picks. It is clear that after this draft, they are looking to accelerate the winning process by bringing in Free Agents.
I doubt the Suns will get any top flight Free Agents who are looking to win now (eg. LeBron, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chris Paul), and I don’t think there are many other next level Free Agents that are good enough or worth signing yet until we see how the young players fit together.
The three Free Agents I think could fit with the Suns are Isaiah Thomas (Unrestricted), Julius Randle (Restricted), and Nikola Mirotic (Team Option).
Thomas would bring toughness, scoring, and winning, but would potentially accelerate the process too fast to allow the young players to grow together.
Randle, who I rated as my #1 prospect in the 2014 Draft, made huge strides this year. He has aggression and toughness you can’t teach, is lethal in the open floor and in the paint, and still only 23. He could be the Power Forward of the future for the Suns, but needs to find a 3-point shot.
Mirotic would excel with a Coach like Mike Budenholzer, who made Kyle Korver a star running through tons of off-ball screens. Mirotic would give the Suns a great shooter/scorer with size, whose defensive analytics have been really impressive over the last 2 seasons.
The reason I am writing this article, though, is to suggest that the Suns draft Trae Young with their top pick.
Young has the biggest immediate impact on winning, which will expedite the process, but also has the most potential in the draft as a superstar PG. While there is risk of Young not panning out, playing beside Booker significantly eases his load.
The Suns need more star power. While the PF/C positions are a serious point of concern, it is now a Guard’s League, and having a star backcourt with 2 lights out shooters means everything in today’s NBA. I don’t think DeAndre Ayton or Marvin Bagley will be enough to help the Suns turn the corner and start to win games. Ayton is not a great enough rebounder to really make an impact early, and Bagley, while he may become the best player in the draft, will take time to develop.
Young is ready now and for the future.
Young is the best playmaker in the draft and makes everyone better. With the focus on Devin Booker, the court will open up significantly for Young. He will be a killer in the pick and roll, and even be able to play off-ball and knockdown catch and shoot 3s. The focus on Booker will decrease the question marks about Young’s athleticism, as he will have the space to operate and get to the rim.
Young is a winner who had a terrible team at Oklahoma. You have to consider how much more he is capable of with an established scorer like Booker already in place. What the Suns need most isn’t length, athleticism, shooting, or defense, it’s a winning leader. Young was 1st in assist percentage and assists per game in the NCAA as a Freshman with few reliable teammates (James and Manek at times). I think Davon Reed, Josh Jackson, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis were great draft picks and will become winning players in time, but Young is the guy to accelerate the process for everyone.
While I know Young is a poor defender, I think you draft the offensive star and figure it out from there. I don’t think anyone else’s upside is so great that you can ignore his winning ability.
With their second 1st round pick (#16 overall), I think the Suns should draft Khyri Thomas, whose defensive prowess is elite. Though only 6’3, Thomas has an almost 7-foot wingspan and natural defensive instincts. He is already an elite 3 and D prospect, having shot 41.1% from 3 this season. With improvement, I think Khyri has the athleticism and potential to become much more than just a 3 and D player.
Finally, I think Mike Budenholzer is the best coaching candidate available and 1 one of the 5 best coaches in the NBA. He is excellent at putting players in winning positions that they are comfortable in. He forces defenses to pick their poison, as was evident in his offense with the 60-win Hawks. While the key to that team was skill, including passing post players and an elite shooter, he formed an offense around what he had rather than build an offense and hope the players will fit.
You can find Wes Brown at NBAprospects.com and he publishes a weekly scouting report called the Monday Morning Scouting Report across the NBA. This week’s report is here (MMSR April 16%2c 2018.pdf), which includes the G-League Final game Wes attended, NCAA Games, and the Portsmouth Invitational.
Got questions? On this article, or on the G-League or anything at all related to NBA?
Feel free to post your questions for Wes in the comment section, and if he’s got time he will get back on here to answer them.