It’s finally draft day, possibly one of the most important days in recent memory for the Phoenix Suns.
Eight weeks after our last edition where there was plenty of movement, this time around it’s all about solidifying the entire board in both rounds. After grading out all of these prospects, it looks to be a strong year for wing depth all throughout the draft while bigs outside the lottery will be hard to find.
This time around, instead of diving into deep detail on all 60, I created the entire list for you to forage through. At the bottom, I will relay my five main thoughts from 4.0 as it relates to overall changes.
In total, my final big board finished off this way by position: Bigs - 12, Ball Handlers - 16, Wings - 32.
- Luka Doncic, Ball Handler, Real Madrid (-)
- Deandre Ayton, Big, Arizona (-)
- Jaren Jackson Jr., Big, Michigan State (+1)
- Michael Porter Jr., Wing, Missouri (-1)
- Mohamed Bamba, Big, Texas (+3)
- Marvin Bagley III, Big, Duke (-1)
- Trae Young, Ball Handler, Oklahoma (-1)
- Zhaire Smith, Wing, Texas Tech (+3)
- Mikal Bridges, Wing, Villanova (-2)
- Wendell Carter Jr., Big, Duke (-1)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ball Handler, Kentucky (-1)
- Miles Bridges, Wing, Michigan State (+1)
- De’Anthony Melton, Ball Handler, USC (+1)
- Collin Sexton, Ball Handler, Alabama (-2)
- Troy Brown, Wing, Oregon (+2)
- Lonnie Walker IV, Wing, Miami (FL) (+2)
- Kevin Knox, Wing, Kentucky (+3)
- Khyri Thomas, Wing, Creighton (+4)
- Robert Williams, Big, Texas A&M (-4)
- Melvin Frazier, Wing, Melvin Frazier (+10)
- Keita Bates-Diop, Wing, Ohio State (-1)
- Kevin Huerter, Wing, Maryland (NR)
- Dzanan Musa, Wing, KK Cedevita (+2)
- Mitchell Robinson, Big, High School (-1)
- Josh Okogie, Wing, Georgia Tech (NR)
- Jacob Evans, Wing, Cincinnati (+3)
- Donte DiVincenzo, Wing, Villanova (NR)
- Elie Okobo, Ball Handler, France (NR)
- Shake Milton, Ball Handler, SMU (-7)
- Aaron Holiday, Ball Handler, UCLA (NR)
- Rawle Alkins, Wing, Arizona (-5)
- Chandler Hutchinson, Wing, Boise State (-2)
- Anfernee Simons, Ball Handler, High School (NR)
- Jalen Brunson, Ball Handler, Villanova (NR)
- Landry Shamet, Ball Handler, Wichita State (-8)
- Jerome Robinson, Wing, Boston College
- Kevin Hervey, Wing, UT Arlington
- Jevon Carter, Ball Handler, West Virginia
- Jarred Vanderbilt, Wing, Kentucky
- Issac Bonga, Ball Handler, Germany
- Mortitz Wagner, Big, Michigan
- Devonte Graham, Ball Handler, Kansas
- Bruce Brown, Wing, Miami (FL)
- Justin Jackson, Wing, Maryland
- Chimezie Metu, Big, USC
- Kenrich Williams, Wing, TCU
- Arnoldas Kulboka, Wing, Lithuania
- Vince Edwards, Wing, Purdue
- Gary Trent Jr., Wing, Duke
- Gary Clark, Wing, Cincinatti
- Devon Hall, Wing, Virginia
- Hamidou Diallo, Wing, Kentucky
- Grayson Allen, Wing, Duke
- Rodions Kurucs, Wing, Spain
- Tony Carr, Ball Handler, Penn State
- Malik Newman, Wing, Kansas
- Trevon Duval, Ball Handler, Duke
- Allonzo Trier, Ball Handler, Arizona
- Alize Johnson, Big, Missouri State
- Omari Spellman, Big, Villanova
1. Doncic remains above Ayton
Sorry folks, I’m not budging Doncic off of his pedestal even though 99.9% chance Deandre Ayton will be the selection Thursday night. After adding another trophy to his collection winning the ACB Championship for Real Madrid, Doncic will be in New York to walk across the stage.
If there is one prospect who will impact winning immediately, it’s Doncic. At this point, it looks like he will either land in Atlanta or Dallas, which are both great spots for him to begin his NBA development.
2. Bamba, Smith and Knox rise
After witnessing Bamba overhaul his shot in this little of time and seemingly knowing how to improve on the fly, he’s starting to give me Jaylen Brown vibes with his high intelligence, too. Every time Bamba is interviewed, I come away very impressed. You could say the same thing when Bamba visited Phoenix, even showing us media in detail the degrees to how his shot has changed. Right away, I expect Bamba to be a force defensively, but rather raw on offense. He could easily prove me wrong and become Rookie of the Year with his elite mix of intangibles, though.
Meanwhile, one of my favorite prospects in the 2018 Draft, Zhaire Smith, has cracked my top 10 officially. I’ve alluded to it many times throughout the season on Locked On Suns, but I see way higher upside in him than I do other wings like Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges. By the time Smith is Mikal’s age right now (22), I think he’s going to have it almost all figured out. He’s dripping with tantalizing two-way upside, and I think someone is going to take advantage of that via trade up on Thursday night.
In 3.0, Knox was slotted at No. 20, but climbs up a little bit here to No. 17, putting him in the ideal BPA scenario for Phoenix. The thing is, Knox’s stock has seemingly exploded past that mark up into the top 10. It’s a curious case, because many seem to not want to pass on Jayson Tatum 2.0, but is he really that? I see someone more on the scale of T.J. Warren who can be an immediate bucket getter, but also be ripe in terms of playmaking and defensive ability. Knox is one of the youngest in this draft class, so I could easily see why many teams are falling in love with his overall upside this late in the process.
3. Melvin Frazier and Khyri Thomas are my official sleepers
If there are only two prospects in the mid-first, early second round range I’m falling head over heels for, it’s Frazier and Thomas. From the Suns’ point of view, both would fill the hole of point guard disruptor at first but also play the ultra versatile role 1-3. Both not only own massive height-to-wingspan ratios, but also can hit 3s consistently. That’s a valuable aspect two teams are going to be high-fiving in the war room over.
If either one is on the board at No. 31, unless Phoenix trades it away, these two should be right up there alongside others they brought in to visit. Surprisingly, neither Frazier or Thomas ever worked out for the Suns.
The range for Frazier seems to be anywhere from 20-29 while Thomas is likely going to slip into the second round due to him already being an upperclassmen. However, that team is going to get a major steal in the process.
Keep an eye on where these two land, especially if it’s in win-now situations like Boston or Golden State. If so, expect them to be carving out rotation minutes for themselves early on due to their two-way ability.
4. Little value on bigs past Round 1
Once you get past Robert Williams at No. 19, this class of big men falls off a cliff. From there, only Mitchell Robinson, Moritz Wagner and Chimezie Metu even gained late first or early, mid second round grades. If you are a team in need of a big, expect to find it early. That could also explain why many teams are trying to trade up into the lottery due to the top-head talent there.
No offense to the aforementioned big men, but the elite names up top like Ayton, Bamba, Jackson and Bagley are miles ahead of where these others land. If you are a team in desperate need of a modern day rim runner (Washington, are you really going to use Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi again?), you should be doing everything in your power to move up near the top 10.
Luckily, the Suns don’t have to be in that position landing at No. 1 for the first time in franchise history.
5. Plenty of depth on quality wings, ball handlers in Round 2
As you could tell from the overall list, over half of these prospects are wings. Nowadays, 1-2-3-4-5 general lineups are a thing of the past. Case in point by how the playoffs went, it’s looking further ahead into shooting and functional versatility continuing to rise in importance as the pace of play continually increases league-wide.
Any other year, names like Keita Bates-Diop, Jacob Evans and Josh Okogie would be sure-fire top 30 picks, but this year is insane in terms of lack of separation on seemingly most NBA boards. Also, names in the 40-60 range such as Brown Brown Jr., Kenrich Williams and Gary Trent Jr. would be near the late first range if it wasn’t for this stacked class of players who fit right into how most teams run their operation.
General names I like in this range, if you are looking purely for sleepers who could surprise next season, are Jarred Vanderbilt, Jevon Carter and the aforementioned Brown Jr. from Miami (FL). All three tick the boxes for who could be reeling in some primetime value late in Thursday’s draft.
There we have it, everybody, it’s the final edition of my lottery big board. Hope you enjoyed the updates, and look forward to seeing how right or wrong I am on this next year and throughout their careers!
Now, it’s time to get down to business with how Phoenix will maneuver in and around this draft with four picks at their disposal.