The NBA regular season is coming to its end soon and thus the Phoenix Suns’ season as well (I know, shocking right). For compensation for its horrible season, the Suns will have a chance to have a top-five pick in the NBA 2019 draft and what better place to see potential stars than in the NCAA March Madness tournament.
Stars like Duke’s Zion Williamson and Murray State’s Ja Morant come out and show off their skills and there’s always one underdog team that goes on a run that could raise the draft stock of a player. With how the Suns have been playing, it’s possible for them not to get a top three pick so they have to keep their eyes open on other players. Let’s go over the players the Suns should be watching during the games and this isn’t a ranking over their talents but the needs the Suns have.
5: Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga)
He may not be a big name like RJ Barrett or Cam Reddish but the Suns are in desperate need of a power forward. The team has no long term player at that position and Dragan Bender is an unrestricted free agent this season. If the team doesn’t get the top pick, the Suns might have to look outside the box. Hachimura has been great for Gonzaga, averaging 20 points a game off 61% shooting with 7 rebounds as well. He’s got great physical tools to help make an impact right away. He isn’t that great of a three-point shooter but if he’s someone the Suns should being paying attention to as the tournament plays itself out.
4: Coby White (North Carolina)
Tyler Johnson has played well for the Suns but isn’t the long-term answer for the Suns point guard position. Coby White is one of the best point guards in the nation and is playing for the Number one team in the Midwest Region. White has the size and shooting range to be a threat without the ball in his hand while still possessing the vision necessary to run point. He’s a great driver and will potentially have a lot of chances to prove his worth in the tournament. If the Suns fall out of the top three, White might be the guy they take with their pick.
3: De’Andre Hunter (Virginia)
Hunter is someone I’d imagine a lot of teams are looking for to fill in their power forward position. Viewed as a safe option, Hunter has the size and tools needed to a stud wing defender which the Suns are in desperate need to fix their glaring defensive deficiencies. Not an elite scorer like Williamson but could potentially grow into that when he joins the league. The tournament provides the Suns a chance to see his play one more time before the draft.
2: Ja Morant (Murray State)
The best point guard in the nation, Ja Morant has been balling this year, putting up 25 points, 10 assists and and five rebounds a game. The young man from South Carolina has also been a dunking machine, turning Murray State games into much watch television. The stats say one thing but the real reason watching him in this tournament is important is the competition. Murray State hasn’t played top teams like Duke, Virgina and the team lost to Auburn, the best team they’ve faced. It’s vital to see how Morant plays against top tier teams. He if he can play the way he’s playing now, it’s a virtual lock that he’s taken in the first three picks.
1: Zion Williamson (Duke)
There really isn’t that much new to say about Williamson since there has been so much that’s been written about him. As long as he doesn’t get injured, Williamson is going to be the first overall pick, regardless of Duke’s success in the tournament. He’s an athletic freak who can get to the basket efficiently and nearly at will. He’s a stud defensively and seems to be the next once in a generational talent teams tank for. It will be fun to watch him dunk on some poor soul but the most important part Suns fans should want to see is how Williamson plays in such big lights. Playing in the AAC Tournament is one thing, but playing in the Final Four and the National Championship has a completely different feeling. As long as he plays to his potential, Duke should take the National Championship.