Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Tomorrow is the day.
I’m certain that all but the most casual of Suns fans know I’m talking about the NBA Draft Lottery drawing.
Unfortunately, the lottery has been our playoffs for more years than I want to think of but some day - in the hopefully not too distant future - these years will be only a bad memory. One way to speed up the arrival of that future is for the Suns to win the lottery for a second time in a row and earn the right to draft Zion Williamson.
Can the Suns get that lucky again? We can only hope so.
There is no mystery about who will be selected number one in this year’s draft though, just which team will win the Zion Sweepstakes lottery drawing and get add him to their roster. Zion can start looking for a place to live in the area of whichever team wins the drawing shortly after the announcement is made Tuesday night. No GM that values his job is going to draft anyone else with the first pick in the draft.
Yes, there is a remote possibility that the winning team might actually trade that pick to another team before draft day actually arrives but that would take a trade offer the likes of which we haven’t seen before in the NBA. It would probably take an offer that would make Billy King’s offer in the infamous 2013 trade with the Celtics for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry seem like chump change in comparison.
But first comes the drawing.
You all know the odds by now. The Suns, Knicks and Cavaliers all have equal odds to get the first pick but the odds are more in favor of not getting it. A 14% chance of winning and an 86% chance of having to use your 1st round draft pick on someone other than Zion.
Getting the number 2 or 3 pick wouldn’t be terrible for the Suns but falling to 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th would. That’s why trading the pick is very likely if the Suns won’t have a shot at drafting Williamson or Ja Morant (who might fall to 3rd depending on which team drafts 2nd). There are some very good prospects after those two but none that an already too young team like the Suns really need to add if they are serious about attempting to move out of the NBA’s cellar this year. Of course, the Suns might not be able to find a good trade opportunity and still wind up using the pick in the draft even if it drops all the way to 7th.
If that happens, the Suns’ new front office’s job just becomes harder this summer as they try to put together a stronger, more competitive roster for new head coach Monty Williams.
Only twice in the history of the lottery has the same team won the number 1 pick in back-to-back years. Orlando did it in 1992 and 1993 and Cleveland did it in 2013 and 2014.
Let’s hope that the Suns will soon become the third team on that very short list.
The Lottery results will be announced live tomorrow at 5:30 pm (AZ time) on ESPN.
Keep your fingers crossed, Suns fans.
Fantable Questions of the Week
1. If the Suns wind up with the #1 pick in the draft, is there anything another team could offer that might be worth trading it away?
GuarGuar: The only offer I would trade the #1 pick for is getting back Giannis or AD (long-term), which are both impossible scenarios. So my answer is basically no in regards to something out there I would trade the #1 pick for. I really value Zion that high. He’s an insane prospect.
Sun-Arc: The only way there wouldn’t be anything worth Zion is if one thought Zion was going to be better than EVERYone in the NBA. I don’t think that will be the case. So I would feel there are several players I would trade for the #1 pick. How about a sign-and-trade for Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant, where the player agrees to a four year deal for Zion? I’d say yes. Same to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Of course, that’s not going to happen. When we get down the list of top players - the question becomes do you think Zion will be better than someone like Draymond Green. And then there is the SUPER long shot like OKC being willing to trade Paul George for Zion. What is the likelihood that ZW ends up being better than those guys? And is it worth it to find out or would it be better to get someone that is in their prime right now? Probably. But the value of Zion’s rookie contract could have more value, potentially.
SDKyle: Never say never, but trading away the #1 pick would require a godfather offer. I don’t know if Zion Williamson is the new Charles Barkley or not, but I think he’s awfully impressive and I’d hate to see the Suns pass on a great talent for anything less than a proven prime-age superstar on a multi-year contract. Trading the first selection for a declining post-prime star (the Kevin Loves and Lamarcus Aldridges of the world) would be the kind of baffling misstep that could define a generation of ineptitude.
The top pick has only ever been traded away a handful of times and most of those instances happened prior to the Clinton presidency, so I don’t really expect it.
SouthernSun: Sure, there’s things another team could offer. But almost no team would trade what would be necessary to get it done. Like if New Orleans would trade Anthony Davis AND Jrue Holiday for the #1 pick, yeah you probably have to do it. That instantly plugs the Suns PG and PF holes with two in their prime stars. But the Pels wouldn’t do that I don’t think.
The most realistic scenario I’ve seen anyone put forth is, Suns land #1, Hawks land at #2. Hawks offer John Collins and the #2 for the #1. That might make the Suns think. You get a young but already really good PF in Collins plus a possible future star PG in Morant. I’m not sure either of the teams do that deal, but it’s an interesting scenario.
I wouldn’t trade the pick in a one for one swap for anybody other like Giannis/Doncic(maybe).
If I was offered now before the lottery, to trade the pick unprotected, there’s a lot of players I’d trade it for, though.
Alex Sylvester: No. Unless Giannis comes in return, I’m taking Zion.
2. Two-part question: If the Suns do win the #1 pick and select Zion Williamson, how big of an immediate impact do you believe it would have on this team next season?
- A. Answer as if the Suns make no other significant player acquisitions over the offseason.
- B. Answer as if the Suns also acquire a significantly better point guard and at least strengthen their bench a bit.
GuarGuar: A. Zion will have a huge impact immediately in the wins column, regardless of what else we do this offseason. He would obviously start at power forward from day 1. In this scenario, no other significant acquisitions are made, so Tyler Johnson is still the starting PG. This team probably wins 33-38 games, with a true ceiling near .500. Chemistry and how quickly players adjust to the new coach and system are key factors.
B. Zion with a significantly better point guard and a stronger bench is a playoff team in my eyes. A generational rookie, 5th year Booker, 2nd year Mikal Bridges and Ayton, and one of Jrue/Lonzo/Kemba/Dlo is a really dynamic squad. The only thing that could/would hold them back is not playing with each other before, and learning Monty’s new system. But if we re-sign Oubre, get Zion and one of those 4 point guards, I’m fully expecting to be in the playoffs.
Sun-Arc: I think Williamson will make an immediate impact- but it is really difficult to know exactly how much. He did look like a man amongst boys as a collegiate rookie. I think it could be a mixed bag, but I would think the ROY award is his to lose, regardless of where he plays and if that team makes other moves.
A. No moves… I think he makes a big impact as the starting PF, giving us another player with gravity effects to draw defenders. Now defenses have to worry about Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, AND Zion. Someone has to be open, seemingly. And he should be the best weak-side defending big we’ve seen in a long time, blocking shots and boxing out players to let Ayton gobble up even more rebounds.
B. Adding a better PG than Johnson… in some ways I think this would only help Zion able to be more of himself and stick to his strengths. But, really, I’m not sure it will make much of a difference to him. He’s so dynamic and able to effect the game in so many ways I’m not sure how much it matters except for getting more shots.
SDKyle: A. A moderate impact. Zion improves the Suns’ rebounding and defense situation noticeably, but his offensive impact remains somewhat stifled by the lack of perimeter playmakers available to help facilitate quality scoring chances for both Zion and frontcourt mate Deandre Ayton. Their combined 550-ish pounds of down low muscle still gets some results as dealing with both of them is a tough task, but the Suns are still a flawed team.
B. A significant impact. Zion’s high motor, athleticism and physical power allow him to constantly take advantage of mismatches courtesy of an offense flowing through a legitimate NBA point guard. Without opposing defenses sagging off the Suns PG, everyone benefits and Zion shines as he cruises to ROY honors on a much-improved team.
SouthernSun: A. I think that Zion would make a decent impact. Not as much as a veteran would immediately, but he’d probably add at least a few wins by himself. He’d be a rookie, and rookies don’t often impact winning. But, he’s no ordinary rookie, and he would certainly be the best PF on the roster already (not that he has any semblance of competition). Since the teams only PF last year was Bender, it’s probably a marked improvement. But not a drastic one. Since again, he’s a rookie.
B. If the Suns acquire Zion, and a good point guard, as well as bench upgrades, they will be a drastically better team. If all those things happen, the Suns will win at least 35-40ish games next season.
Alex Sylvester: A. I think he has a massive impact right away. He’s the most talented draft piece the NBA has seen since LeBron. I could easily see him accounting for an additional 5 wins alone.
B. Once you add a point guard and better bench to the equation, I think you’re looking at a 10-15 win difference. Obviously it depends on the level of pg and what pieces you add, but making these roster moves along with the Monty hire would be massive for this franchise!
As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, SDKyle, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their extra effort every week!
11 Minutes of Mikal Bridges Playing Defense
Quote of the Week
”We need to add guys in their prime. We need to raise the floor of our team. And you only do that with NBA players – not prospects, but NBA players. So, we’ll focus on acquiring those guys via all the channels we can.” - James Jones
Interesting Suns Stuff
News & Notes
Zion Williamson or Ja Morant? Phoenix Suns might be better off not winning NBA draft lottery. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic
Devin Booker Chosen as Finalist for J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. Suns.com
15 Point Guard Targets for the Phoenix Suns. Arizona Sports Zone
Phoenix Suns: 2019 NBA Draft Lottery odds. Gerald Bourguet/Hoops Habit
2019 NBA Draft Lottery could shift PG market for Phoenix Suns. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports
Suns GM James Jones: ‘We need to add guys in their prime’. Yahoo! Sports
Four potential Ricky Rubio landing spots in free agency. Hoops Hype
Why the NBA can’t fix the Zion Williamson draft lottery. Marc Berman/New York Post
This Week in Suns History
On May 16, 1976, the Phoenix Suns defeated the defending NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors, 94-86 in game seven of the Western Conference Finals to earn their first conference championship and their first trip to the NBA Finals to face the Boston Celtics.
60.2 percent of the Suns’ points this season were scored by players age 22 or younger. It was the highest percentage of any team in the NBA this season and 5th-highest by any team in NBA history. Number one was OKC in 2010-11 (67.5%), 2nd was also OKC but in 2009-10 (63.3%), 3rd was Minnesota in 2016-17 (61.5%) and 4th was Memphis in 2008-09 (61.2%).
Previewing the Weeks (and Months) Ahead
May 14 - NBA Draft Lottery @ 8:30 pm ET/5:30 AZT (ESPN)
May 14-19 - NBA Draft Combine 2019 (Chicago)
June 10 - NBA Draft Early Entry Entrant Withdrawal Deadline (5 pm ET)
June 20 - NBA Draft 2019
July 1 - Official start of the 2019/20 NBA league year. July moratorium begins. NBA free agency officially begins (12:01 am ET) and free agents can begin reaching verbal agreements with teams. Restricted free agents can sign an offer sheet. Teams can begin signing players to rookie scale contracts, minimum salary contracts, and two-way contracts.
July 5-15 - NBA Summer League (Las Vegas)
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Do you believe that the Suns are finally on the right track to returning to respectability?”
52% - Yes.
03% - No.
45% - Ask me again when training camp begins.
There were 325 votes cast.
This week’s poll is...
Do you really believe that Suns owner, Robert Sarver, will step back and no longer interfere with front office decisions?
This poll is closed
Only until he thinks they’ve made a mistake.