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Phoenix Suns NBA Draft Grade Roundup: People are not impressed

It’s really not good.

NBA: NBA Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A day after the 2019 NBA Draft your Phoenix Suns look vastly different than they did when the 2018-19 season concluded. They won 19 games in that season. These are facts. You cannot dispute them.

Results like that should warrant massive change. And that’s what we got. The most talked about move of the Suns’ Thursday night was the selection of North Carolina forward Cam Johnson with the 11th overall pick. Here’s what talking heads and blue check marks thought of the selection.

Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer:

The Suns have suddenly become conservative with their lottery picks. A year after they traded up to no. 10 to take Mikal Bridges, an experienced wing with a proven 3-point shot, they took a similar type of player in Johnson, a fifth-year senior from North Carolina with one of the best 3-point shots in this year’s draft. Johnson isn’t as good defensively as Bridges, but his size (6-foot-9, 205 pounds) should at least allow him to survive on that end of the floor. Johnson will have an immediate role in the NBA, which means he is a pretty safe bet to give them solid minutes off the bench, even if he never ends up as a high-level starter. He hasn’t shown the ability to do much on offense beyond shoot, but he won’t need to if he’s playing with Devin Booker and D’Angelo Russell, the latter of whom they may target in restricted free agency.

Grade: B

Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated:

This is an extreme reach for the Suns, who are grabbing a player most teams expected to be available in the 20s here at No. 11 after trading down from No. 6. This is hard to explain—Johnson is one of the draft’s best pure spot-up shooters, but he’s already 23 years old. It feels like the Suns are drafting for need here, and this is an extremely high juncture in this draft to do that. Phoenix would seem to be trying to accelerate its rebuild, but this decision is questionable, given the way this draft seemed slated to fall. The choice itself makes some sense, but the execution here is the issue I have.

Grade: D–

Gary Parrish, CBS Sports:

This pick was made by the Suns, who traded 6 for 11 and Dario Saric. The Suns did this because they’ve got all this youth. Johnson’s a guy who’s as ready to play. But what a stunning move. No one expected him to be this high. Johnson was not even one of the 24 players invited to the official draft green room. This is wild to me.

Grade: D

Chris Stone, Sporting News:

Well, this is unexpected. Johnson is actually headed to Phoenix along with Dario Saric for the rights to draft Jarrett Culver at No. 6, which begs the question… Did the goats make this pick? Johnson was largely projected as a late first-rounder in most mock drafts.

I actually like Johnson quite a bit. I thought he would be an excellent selection for a team in the early 20s as a player who could come in and help right away. He’s probably the best shooter in the draft, and he has positional size. He’s able to get his jumper off over most defenders. There’s a ton of value in that alone.

But Johnson is also already 23 years old. He’s a limited to non-existent on-ball creator. He’s skinny and almost certain to struggle defensively at the next level. He also has an extensive injury history and had reportedly been flagged by multiple teams for those injury issues. His best case scenario is a 3-and-D combo forward.

Phoenix, a team drastically in need of a point guard, passed up the chance to draft a good one at No. 6 in Coby White in exchange for a fine role player? This selection is frankly awful.

Grade: F

Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation:

Johnson is the oldest player expected to go in the first round and simply doesn’t have enough upside to warrant a pick this high. He’s arguably the best shooter in this draft class, as a 6’8 forward who shot 46 percent on threes in his fourth year of college ball. He doesn’t offer much else outside of his shooting, though. Johnson lacks the physicality to make an impact defensively and will also struggle to finish through contact in the NBA. He also doesn’t create much off the dribble.

The Suns still don’t have a point guard, though it’s possible they target someone like D’Angelo Russell in free agency. Paired with Mikal Bridges, the Suns now have some shooters on the wing to surround Devin Booker. It might sound good on paper, but Johnson is simply too one dimensional to get picked this high.

Grade: D

Steve Alexander, Rotoworld:

I’m not sure where to begin here. The Suns traded T.J. Warren and a second-round pick to the Pacers for cash, and then traded the sixth pick to the Timberwolves for Dario Saric and the 11thpick, which they then used to draft sharpshooting guard Cameron Johnson from North Carolina. They already have Devin Booker, which makes the Johnson pick a head scratcher, especially when he went way higher than any of us thought he would. Most of my Rotoworld colleagues suggested I give the Suns an F- or even a G, but I didn’t take the bait. The embattled franchise and fanbase has been beaten down enough, and a simple F should suffice.

Grade: F

Brendon Kleen, Bright Side of the Sun:

Johnson will improve the Suns’ floor-spacing considerably and will be able to get on the court right away, but it remains to be seen whether the Suns actually needed to pull the trigger at No. 11 to get him or could have gotten him later, even all the way down at No. 32, the pick they gave up to move off of Warren’s salary.

Grade: D+

My brother, some sort of finance/computer guy in Atlanta, Sixers fan:

You know how when some authors get writers block, they just write down anything and hope that eventually they will find their way back to the intended plot? I feel like that’s what the Suns front office is doing with all these moves.

Idk, I think that’s what they’re going for. How mad can you get at a franchise that you can’t tell whether they’re better or worse than the year before?

Grade: D

Robby Kalland and Brad Rowland, Dime Magazine:

Phoenix continues to be Phoenix. On the bright side, Cam Johnson is perhaps the best shooter in this draft and it helps to have a legitimate skill. Unfortunately, that is the only above-average trait that Johnson brings to the table and, value-wise, taking him at No. 11 is very, very aggressive.

Grade: D

Ray Ratto, Deadspin:

Most people hated them trading down to get Cam Johnson with only Dario Saric as the sweetener. But how else do you get to be the Suns?

Grade: Phoenix

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