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The Athletic adds to the reported upswell of Suns interest in point guard Ja Morant

Sam Vecenie is the latest to indicate the Suns might prefer Morant over presumed No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.

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Murray State v Florida State Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The debate surrounding what the Suns will do with their first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft will groan on until at least lottery night on May 14, but it’s never too early to get started.

Based on the Suns’ need for a point guard as well as Phoenix’s heavy and uncharacteristic studiousness of Murray State point guard Ja Morant’s game during the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in March, a small but growing perception that the Suns preferred Morant over Duke forward Zion Williamson materialized the past month or so.

In a column over at The Athletic this week, NBA Draft writer Sam Vecenie noted again that the Suns, and more specifically new general manager James Jones, have developed a fondness for Morant:

“Sources around the NBA are buzzing that Morant is actually the player the Suns prefer to end up with. Particularly, Jones is thought to be a fan of the dynamic lead guard.”

However, Vecenie — one of the more plugged-in reporters in the country when it comes to scouts and NBA personnel people — goes on to say it’s unlikely Morant goes first:

“But color me skeptical that the team would actually take him at No. 1. The financial windfall any team figures to experience by selecting Williamson is real. He comes in ready-made not only as an elite level player, but also as a marketing tool that will bring fans out to games, create a large amount of merchandising sales, and likely even see commercial opportunities. It’s hard for me to see any owner passing that up, particularly when one is as meddlesome in basketball operations as Sarver.”

This is not Luka Doncic vs. Deandre Ayton. While that debate roared on throughout the early part of last summer because of folks’ unfamiliarity with Doncic, the gap between Morant and Williamson is far wider than the difference between the uber-talented Ayton and Doncic.

Morant certainly impressed viewers and NBA decision-makers by taking a bereft Murray State roster to the Round of 32 but Williamson was one of the most productive and efficient players ever to play in the NCAA. He is a generational prospect.

Vecenie and others have drawn into question where the Suns’ preference lies, but Phoenix should not make this complicated.

More realistic is the consideration after No. 1 if the Suns don’t win on lottery night, at which point Jones and his staff will have to decide between Morant or trading the pick depending on where they land.

That possibility makes the Suns’ interest in Morant important, but if Phoenix wins the lottery, let’s all agree to play it cool on this fake debate. Please?

Watch out for Sam Vecenie as a special guest on this week’s Solar Panel, due out tomorrow night/Monday morning. Dave and Greg have Sam provide more background on his Suns takes.