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ESPN’s Jon Barry latest to fan flames, says he would prefer Morant over Zion for the Suns

Over at 98.7 FM, the former NBA player and current radio analyst said he would trade out of the No. 1 spot in order to take Morant over Williamson.

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

Has anyone ever asked whether a certain team could make Anthony Davis fit? Did we worry the Clippers wouldn’t be right sort of team for Blake Griffin? Should the Cavaliers have traded back to nab Kirk Hinrich instead of LeBron James in the 2003 draft because they needed a point guard?

No, because great players make their teammates better and figure out a way to adapt to what their team needs. This is true across NBA history and it’s true today as we discuss Ja Morant vs. Zion Williamson.

As we near draft day in June, analysts are starting to do that thing where they sort of invent storylines despite any evidence that they are based in reality. Enter Jon Barry.

Over at Arizona’s Sports Station Tuesday morning, Barry, an NBA analyst for ESPN Radio, said he not only prefers Morant, but would move back from No. 1 to take the sophomore point guard over the National Player of the Year.

“That’s the need for the team. If you go back a couple years ago, they had more point guards than any team in the history of the NBA and now they have none,” Barry said. “Devin Booker does not need to be worrying about running the point guard position like he had to the bulk of the year.”

Barry continued by acknowledging part of this is a value play. Basically, he believes the difference between Morant and Williamson is not great enough to ignore the Suns’ need for a point guard.

“But if you get number one, you go to every team in the league and you say, ‘How bad do you want Zion?’” Barry said on Doug & Wolf. “Not only could you move down and get Ja at number two possibly, you can get some other pieces and be relevant like immediately next year. You’ve got to explore that.”

This plan operates under a few assumptions that I think are a stretch:

  • Only point guards can fill the playmaking gap that was evident for the Suns the past two seasons. They need another player alongside Booker who can create good shots for the rest of the players on the roster, not necessarily a point guard. Williamson checks that box despite looking more like Griffin than Chris Paul.
  • There is a team who would be interested in trading up. If the Suns really shop the pick, it makes clear their preference for Morant, meaning teams at No. 2 would then just stay put and dare Phoenix to actually do it.

We’ve known this was coming for weeks, basically since the day Morant won against Marquette in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Last year, Valley media occupied itself by debating Deandre Ayton versus Luka Doncic. Will we now have to sit through another debate, this time involving Williamson and Morant?

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