It’s been about six weeks since our last mock draft on Bright Side of the Sun. If you missed the first three versions, check them out here, here, and here. This time around, we actually know the draft order, so I’ll do a deep dive on all three Suns selections ranging from 1-31 (I imagine No. 59 will be a draft-and-stash, if they keep it).
As we are heading full speed towards one of the biggest offseasons in Phoenix Suns franchise history, here’s how I see the first round going down less than two weeks from now.
Note: This is how I see the draft going, not who I would select. Big Board 4.0 placements are attached, and will be explained next week in our full unveiling alongside more scouting reports.
Suns - Deandre Ayton, Big, Arizona / Big Board: No. 2
Trust me, I’m still firmly on the Doncic bandwagon as far as best fit for Phoenix goes, but I’m conceding defeat at this point in time. After Wednesday’s press conference and the hysteria surrounding it, Ayton’s introductory to the media felt like he was already a member of the Suns.
Ayton will step in immediately and provide Booker much-needed relief offensively while simultaneously opening up way more space for him to operate. If head coach Igor Kokoskov is able to drill in fundamentals and base his minutes around defensive effort, Ayton could turn into the two-way monster many expect he will. Adding Ayton alongside Booker and Josh Jackson signals the end of #TheTimeline’s draft efforts for their rebuild.
Kings - Luka Doncic, Ball Handler, Real Madrid / Big Board: No. 1
Doncic landing with the division rival stings, but I still have a hard time seeing how Sacramento ends up passing on him in the end. The fit with De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic is splendid, allowing the Kings to implement their own European style of basketball. With not owning their own pick in 2019, jumping up this year and landing Doncic might have saved their rebuild entirely.
Hawks - Jaren Jackson Jr., Big, Michigan State / Big Board: No. 3
This is where it gets tough for me. Does Atlanta go with the higher two-way upside play or the sure thing? Knowing how general manager Travis Schlenk comes from Golden State, I will say he goes in the modern direction. Jackson slides in right alongside John Collins and Taurean Prince to create an uber versatile trio that can switch-and-slide effortlessly onto any size player. Also, Jackson’s defensive awareness will allow him to roam around and still recover at the rim.
Grizzlies - Marvin Bagley III, Big, Duke / Big Board: No. 6
Bagley will be visiting with the Suns on Friday, but I imagine his actual stock is somewhere from 2-4 on draft night. With Doncic already off the board, Memphis goes with the safe play of adding Bagley in alongside Michael Conley and Marc Gasol to help make another playoff push before the Grit N Grind era officially comes to a close. The presence of Bagley allows Memphis one sure-fire asset to build around into the future and likely average double-doubles from the onset.
Mavericks - Mohamed Bamba, Big, Texas / Big Board: No. 5
Bamba has been slotted to Dallas in the first three mock drafts and it’s not changing up now. Next to Dennis Smith Jr., Bamba could help create an absolutely terrifying pick-and-roll duo into the 2020s revolving around eye-popping athleticism and length. Throughout this predraft process, Bamba has marketed himself the best, by far. At this point, I doubt Bamba slips outside the top five with his tantalizing defensive upside plus an ever-improving perimeter jumper.
Magic - Trae Young, Ball Handler, Oklahoma / Big Board: No. 7
Just like Bamba, I have a hard time slipping Trae Young past Orlando in every scenario over the past few weeks. The Magic need some sort of star equity for their market and adding in Oklahoma’s sharpshooter does exactly that. Orlando’s trio of Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Young could finally give them a promising future for the first time since Dwight Howard’s departure.
Bulls - Michael Porter Jr., Wing, Missouri / Big Board: No. 4
After Porter conducted his medical testing with Bulls doctors and everyone will only be able to access it through Chicago tells me Porter is trying to steer himself here. I don’t blame him either. Pairing Porter next to Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen gives Chicago their fourth young building block to plant for long term development. If Porter can develop into the go-to scorer, that gifts Chicago two of the more gifted scoring forwards in the Eastern Conference eventually.
Cavaliers - Wendell Carter Jr., Big, Duke / Big Board: No. 10
Cleveland is in a bind right now. With LeBron James keeping them in limbo, which route they go at No. 8 could shape their long term future if he dips. With what I consider the elite seven all off the board, Cleveland is in a pure best player available mode. Even though Carter isn’t this on my board, he seems to be building his stock up into the 6-9 range on June 21. Also, Carter’s addition gives them someone who they can rely on defensively and can get buckets from two levels of the floor. Goodbye, Tristan Thompson.
Knicks - Mikal Bridges, Wing, Villanova / Big Board: No. 9
New York, like Cleveland, has to be kicking themselves that Porter Jr. or Young are not here for the taking. However, going in the Mikal Bridges route should ease possible concerns. With his 7’2” wingspan atop his 6’7” frame, Bridges is the prototypical 3-and-D wing for today’s NBA. New head coach David Fizdale wants to establish more defensive identity in the Big Apple, and drafting Bridges helps paint that picture during the Kristaps Porzingis era.
76ers - Miles Bridges, Wing, Michigan State / Big Board: No. 12
Even with the treasure trove of young talent already assembled in Philadelphia, the Sixers are still reeling in benefits of #TheProcess. With their final top 10 pick likely during this phase of their team construction, adding in the best scheme-compatible fit next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid should be the ideal plan. At this stage of the draft, going BPA and drafting the other Bridges continues to help Philadelphia collect versatile wings on the perimeter. In today’s NBA where four to five wings can play at the same time, Philadelphia could roll out lineup combinations like this: Simmons-Bridges-Covington-Saric-Embiid.
Hornets - Collin Sexton, Ball Handler, Alabama / Big Board: No. 14
From the beginning, Sexton has been pegged to Charlotte and it will continue in 4.0. After the hiring of Mitch Kupchak, Charlotte is in prime position to hit the reset button on draft night. With both Sexton and Gilgeous-Alexander available, this likely signals Kemba Walker will be available while they are on the clock as well (maybe Phoenix after going Ayton?). Sexton’s tenacity is something I continue to believe majority owner Michael Jordan will fall in love with during interview settings. Placing Sexton next to Malik Monk gives Charlotte their backcourt of the future as they begin the treacherous reboot bottoming out in the Eastern Conference.
Clippers - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ball Handler, Kentucky / Big Board: No. 11
Right after Sexton goes off the board, the same happens here for Gilgeous-Alexander. Neither Patrick Beverley nor Milos Teodosic signal being the long term answer at point guard. However, selecting SGA at No. 12 does exactly that. I’m higher on SGA than others but his ability to decelerate and play at his own pace is unique enough where his upside is intriguing. At 6’6” with a 6’11.5” wingspan, Gilgeous-Alexander learning tricks of the trade defensively from Beverley would be an ideal scenario for the Clippers to undergo.
Clippers - Robert Williams, Big, Texas A&M / Big Board: No. 19
Guess who’s a free agent for the Clippers? That would be DeAndre Jordan, and going in the direction of drafting his replacement should be their next order of business. Williams didn’t improve his stock at A&M but he also didn’t destroy it. Maintaining his consistency defensively while also flashing his scoring ability during March Madness kept him as somebody in this year’s top 20. If Los Angeles wants to begin their youth movement, drafting possibly the second version of Jordan makes plenty of sense to me.
Nuggets - Kevin Knox, Wing, Kentucky / Big Board: No. 17
Once draft night rolls around, I see this spot as being offered up to the highest bidder due to Denver’s tax concerns. However, if they keep this pick, Denver is in position to go purely best player available. Knox’s smooth scoring outlook paired with length to become at least an average defender is an interesting package for Denver to acquire. Knox slides in as the small-ball 4 and could even play the 3 in bigger lineups next to Gary Harris and Paul Millsap. Denver is close to locking in their future, and Knox being one of the final pieces gives them an even more attracting core.
Wizards - Mitchell Robinson, Big, High School / Big Board: No. 24
This is my first surprise of the draft, because Robinson has reportedly been impressing teams during the predraft process. After his pro day where he showed off absurd defensive instincts and promising shooting stroke out to the NBA three-point line, Robinson’s upside might be too much for him to slip too far outside of the lottery. During his EYBL career, Robinson averaged over 8 (!!) blocks per 40 minutes. Meanwhile, Ayton was just over 2.5. Washington is in desperate need of an athletic big to pair next to John Wall and Bradley Beal instead of Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi.
Suns - Lonnie Walker IV, Wing, Miami (FL) / Big Board: No. 16
Each day that passes towards the draft, odds grow even higher for me that the Suns will bring in another rookie after selecting at No. 1. Whether it is in a trade moving up or down, maybe even staying at No. 16, Phoenix seems positioned to keep their second selection. With how the board broke for the Suns in this scenario, they are in an ideal spot to add in someone who can contribute immediately into the rotation. This pick likely comes down to five names: Walker, Smith, Brown, Evans, and Bates-Diop. Even though I have Smith ranked in my top 10, I’m prioritizing offensive creation plus defensive upside when factoring in players needed next to Ayton.
This is where I lean towards selecting Walker, in turn stopping his free fall. Walker’s athletic package and plus shooting stroke alongside his Donovan Mitchell-esque frame place him in the possible steal category. Walker can work next to T.J. Warren in the second unit spreading the floor while also having three-level scoring ability. Landing Walker after Ayton would for sure result in some high-fives in the Suns’ war room.
Bucks - Zhaire Smith, Wing, Texas Tech / Big Board No. 8
This would be crushing after losing the coin flip to Milwaukee where they then land my favorite sleeper prospect of this class in Smith. In an alternate reality, the Suns would be adding Smith alongside Walker but that unfortunately won’t be the case. Even though there is new management in Milwaukee, they still need to target players who can be versatile and have enough upside to warrant going in the top 20. Smith easily fits that criteria as his bouncy profile next to elite defensive tools separates him from most wings clustered in this range. Speaking of fits next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Smith fits in like a glove.
Spurs - Troy Brown, Wing, Oregon / Big Board: No. 15
Brown seems like the ideal San Antonio Spur, doesn't he? After working out for the Suns on Thursday, Brown has now been in front of teams in the 12-21 range. His ceiling likely begins with the Clippers but falls down to Utah, where they would quickly scoop him up. However, San Antonio doesn’t allow that after they miss out on Walker and Smith. Brown’s versatility makes him stand out in Gregg Popovich’s system where they switch like crazy. Brown also playing point guard most of his life allows a unique opportunity with his 6’7” frame. Whether Kawhi Leonard remains there or not, Brown checks a lot of what the Spurs prioritize.
Hawks - Dzanan Musa, Wing, KK Cedevita / Big Board: No. 23
Atlanta needs to add in more shooting to surround their young core. There likely isn’t anyone who can do that better while also showing off the ability to split the double team better than anyone in this draft class like Musa. Whether he’s stashed overseas or not, Musa’s offensive profile is high enough to where Atlanta could warrant this selection at No. 19. Musa and Prince is nice harmony on the wing with both covering up for weaknesses of each other.
Timberwolves - Jacob Evans, Wing, Cincinatti / Big Board: No. 26
Evans sticks out like a sore thumb as to who Tom Thibodeau could absolutely fall in love with during the predraft process. Sticking out as the ideal 3-and-D wing who grinds on defense with an NBA-ready frame, Evans could crack Minnesota’s rotation with their overall lack of talent at forward outside of Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler. After going the project route last year with Justin Patton, going with an upperclassmen who can instantly fill minutes seems like a plan for the Timberwolves.
Jazz - Khyri Thomas, Wing, Creighton / Big Board: No. 18
Utah needs perimeter defense and plus shooting. Nobody else in this range can do it like Thomas. They could be in position to lose Dante Exum this summer, including Raul Neto as an unrestricted free agent, so the Jazz need to target another versatile guard to pair next to Mitchell. Thomas not only has an NBA body right now, but his three years at Creighton helped prepare him as he continuously improved from beyond the arc. Thomas is a no-nonsense type of prospect who leaves it all on the floor. That sounds like someone general manager Dennis Lindsey would covet.
Bulls - Donte DiVincenzo, Wing, Villanova / Big Board: No. 27
Finally, the National Championship game hero is off the board. DiVincenzo carries a first round grade on my board, but he’s more in the late first than the middle part, in my opinion. He really helped boost his stock at the NBA Draft Combine, where he put on a show in 5-on-5 action. DiVincenzo is a dynamic scorer off catch-and-shoot and spot-up opportunities, foreshadowing his role on the next level during his rookie season. Adding in someone who’s ready to contribute in their second unit and even slide in next to Porter and Markannen, DiVincenzo’s athletic profile also helps him land at No. 22 to the Bulls in this mock draft.
Pacers - Aaron Holiday, Ball Handler, UCLA / Big Board: No. 30
Even though Holiday had his second workout with the Suns on Thursday, the only one to do that so far, I still believe they end up passing on him if there is lottery level talent on the board. As you can tell by my big board ranking above, Holiday takes the last first round slot. When watching him at UCLA, I didn’t see someone who was a near lottery level prospect but his genetic background and offensive production might easily win him over a few front offices during the workout circuit. By the way, Holiday finished with 28 down-and-backs both times during his 3-minute runs in Phoenix. Speaking of his fit in Indiana, though, they eventually will need someone to replace Darren Collison and Cory Joseph. Both enter the final year of their deals, which opens the door for Holiday to be Victor Oladipo’s starting backcourt partner in 2019-20.
Trail Blazers - Keita Bates-Diop, Wing, Ohio State / Big Board: No. 21
Bates-Diop’s length is what stands out immediately when you watch him. Standing at 6’8.5” with an absurd 7’3.25” wingspan (+6.75 H2W), Bates-Diop can shoot above almost any college defender. With his high release point, it’s almost impossible to get tough contest consistently on him. After polishing off scoring concerns this past season at Ohio State, KBD has set himself up to be a surefire first rounder. In Portland, he steps in and provides instant relief on the perimeter, likely resulting in one of their bloated wing contracts needing to go. Like Denver, this pick could also be moved on draft night due to cap concerns.
Lakers - Kevin Huerter, Wing, Maryland / Big Board: No. 22
When thinking of ideal prospects to surround Lonzo Ball, above-average to elite shooting capabilities is one of them. Enter in Huerter, who shot 41.1% on 3s this past season. Supposedly, Huerter has a promise at either No. 21 from Utah or No. 25 from Los Angeles. At this stage, I slot him to the Lakers because it also makes a lot of sense from both sides. Not only does Los Angeles need scoring, but they also need more players with high BBIQ. Huerter is someone you can rely upon to not make silly mistakes and always make the right reads with secondary creation upside. There’s plenty to like when diving in further on Huerter, and he’s someone who could quickly become dangerous when being set up by Ball.
76ers - Elie Okobo, Ball Handler, France / Big Board: No. 28
After his 44-point explosion last month, Okobo’s stock has soared. At this point, I expect him to go maybe even closer to the Suns’ range at No. 16 than at the bottom of the first round. Okobo not only has the scoring upside but physical measurements to become an ideal two-way fit next to ball-dominant guards. If not in Phoenix with Booker, Okobo helping take some pressure off Simmons makes sense, too. Philadelphia worked Okobo out when he tested the waters last year, so they could be locking in on him at No. 26.
Celtics - De’Anthony Melton, Ball Handler, USC / Big Board: No. 13
Again, this pains me to do it but a lottery talent like Melton landing in Boston is highway robbery. The Celtics need to make a decision on one of Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier here soon. Whether they let Smart walk after testing his market as an RFA or trade Rozier while his value is highest, something has to give. However, Melton sliding to here eases those concerns. Immediately, Melton steps into the Smart role (while not as proficient) and can grow out his frame in a winning environment. Melton could be in play for the Suns at No. 16, especially if they go Ayton, but the Boston fit is one of my favorites so far for the former USC Trojan.
Warriors - Melvin Frazier, Wing, Tulane / Big Board: No. 20
Another one of my favorite sleepers slips to someone really not in need of more high upside talent. Golden State having Frazier fall into their laps would be typical Warriors. Frazier possess way above-average length at 7’1.5”. This alongside his pure tenacity welcomes Fraizer into accepting challenges guarding primary ball handlers right away with his foot speed. In terms of activity, there may not be anyone better at that defensively other than Melton outside of Frazier. With his three-pointer (shot 38.5% this past season), Frazier has some untapped scoring upside that the right player development team can squeeze out of him. With Patrick McCaw becoming an RFA, they just found his replacement without having to work for it.
Nets - Chandler Hutchison, Wing, Boise State / Big Board: No. 32
I’ve never really understood the Hutchison hype, but rumor has it he secured some sort of promise very early in this process. Many have continued to point towards Brooklyn as the likely culprit. Projecting into the spot-up 3-and-D role, Hutchison would instantly help space the floor for D’Angelo Russell while also being a good team defender who doesn’t usually beat himself. Brooklyn needs to add some more seasoned, NBA ready talent so going that route with Hutchison makes some sense.
Hawks - Anfernee Simons, Ball Handler, High School / Big Board: No. 33
Atlanta has already selected Jackson Jr. and Musa, but why not swing one more time for the fences with Simons? He’s very far away from being consistently in NBA rotations physically — G-League might pay huge dividends for someone like this — but likely would have been a lottery pick anyways in 2019. Simons has not only the athleticism to turn into something on the next level, but his +6” H2W at 6’9.25” could allow him to hold his own defensively. The two-way upside is there with Simons, but landing in a place like Atlanta where his development would be prioritized likely lands him his best-case scenario on draft night. If Atlanta’s picks all hit, they could easily turn into the draft’s biggest winners a few years down the line.
Suns - Landry Shamet, Ball Handler, Wichita State / Big Board: No. 35
After selecting Ayton and Walker, the Suns now need to fill their point guard hole in some capacity. Luckily for them, Shamet is still on the board. After shooting the lights out in Phoenix during his predraft workout, it wouldn’t surprise me if Shamet is someone they end up targeting in this slot. Shamet’s sharpshooting from deep, including being an efficient overall three-level scoring threat, stands out like a sore thumb at this stage. Placing Shamet next to Booker allows for more room to operate, and his size at 6’7” allows him to guard either 1s or 2s. If Phoenix goes the route of Ayton, Walker, and Shamet on June 21, that would result in a high grade from yours truly.