Before we dive into this, here are a few quick disclaimers:
- The Suns obviously do not own a 2nd round pick, but with how aggressively teams are expected to shop or potentially sell their picks along with the very real possibility of Phoenix trading back, it’s worth diving into some targets that fit Phoenix’s system.
- This list will be based strictly off players that are ranked in the 2nd round on ESPN. No, this does not mean these players are guaranteed to go in the 2nd round, but for the sake of this exercise it’s what we’ll be using since they consistently have the most intel.
- Desmond Bane is not here because I do not foresee him lasting until the 2nd round, even though ESPN has him ranked 34th on their latest board from 2 weeks ago, otherwise he’d be at the top of this list.
1. Grant Riller- PG, Charleston (ESPN rank: 39th)
Riller is someone I am exactly 21 spots higher than on my board than ESPN is, as he’s well within my top 20 and someone I believe will be a positive contributor from day one. His combination of burst, explosiveness and finishing ability makes him an intriguing flamethrower off the bench.
The bottom line with him is that he can flat out score the basketball in a variety of ways. He averaged 21-5-4 on a .601 TS% in 31 games last season. There were only 3 players in the entire NCAA last year to post a BPM of 7 or higher, a TS% of 60 or higher and an AST% of 30 or higher: Tyrese Haliburton, Payton Pritchard and Grant Riller.
There are some concerns with the level of competition within his conference, but every time they played a strong opponent he showed up and wasn’t phased in the slightest, so I’m not concerned with the translation to the NBA all that much. If the Suns wind up with a late 1st round pick or in the early 2nd somehow, Riller should be near the top of their list.
2. Malachi Flynn- PG, San Diego St. (ESPN rank: 31st)
Flynn, like Riller, is someone that is a bit older and projects to be an impact guy from day one. His shot-making and self creation would really give the Suns’ second unit a much needed boost. He led one of the best offenses (and teams) in the country last season at San Diego State, averaging 17.6 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.5 RPG and 1.8 SPG on 44/37/86 shooting splits.
While there are physical limitations with him (size, lack of athleticism) and he is on the older side, he projects (to me) as a potential elite backup point guard or low-end starter with the ability to swing a game off the bench with his scoring ability off the bounce. If Phoenix wants to find a point guard that can create for himself and others later in the draft, Flynn is the guy.
3. Killian Tille- PF/C, Gonzaga (ESPN rank: 54th)
Tillie is legitimately a perfect big for Monty Williams’ offensive system and would give them the dynamic they were hoping Frank Kaminsky would bring as a floor-spacing big that makes good decisions. If you could grant Tillie a clean bill of health, he’s a lottery level talent and probably someone Phoenix would even consider with the 10th overall pick in this alternate universe.
The reality is with him is that the injury concerns are more than fair due to his extensive injury history, with the list of injuries stacking up longer than a CVS receipt. There is some risk involved, but if he can stay on the court there is no question he will be a productive NBA player.
4. Isaiah Joe- SG, Arkansas (ESPN rank: 48th)
Joe is one of my favorite value plays in the 2nd round for a team that is looking for an NBA-ready floor spacer. Some of his shot-making off the dribble is absurd from deep NBA range and beyond. In his 2 years at Arkansas (on an extremely high volume) he shot just under 38% from 3 point range, and 82.7% from the charity stripe.
The role he figures to serve in the NBA will be as a microwave scorer off the bench that comes in ready to shoot from anywhere on the court like the gunslinger he is. He’s a plus defender, though nothing special on that end. He has solid length and plays sound team-defense, and if he really hits a high-end shooting outcome due to his defensive ability he could be someone that plays his way into starter minutes in the right situation. His shot selection can be a bit wild at times, but the tough shot making is a major part of what makes him so intriguing.
I consider him quite easily a top 5 shooter in this class, so that alone should put him on the James Jones radar.
5. Naji Marshall- F, Xavier (ESPN rank: 67th)
Standing at 6’7” with a 7’0” wingspan, Marshall has displayed the ability to comfortably guard 1 through 3 and even has the potential to occasionally hold his own against 4’s. He’s shown the ability to cut and slash at a high level, which as a plus finisher at his size makes him intriguing. He can pass a bit as well, averaging 4 assists per game in his junior year at Xavier. If he figures the shot out he could be a solid rotational wing for years to come. I was able to watch him in a private draft workout in Phoenix last month and the base of his jumper looks much better along with a noticeable improvement on his form which is encouraging.
Marshall has an NBA-ready body and some skills that make him a worthwhile gamble in the 2nd round. His projected range seems to be in the 40-60 range, and with how shallow the “true wing” depth is in this class, I could see him returning tremendous value if you take him in that mid-2nd round range. If Phoenix moves Oubre or just wants to add some cheap wing depth, Marshall is a guy that makes sense.
Honorable Mentions (potential UDFA’s):
- Ty-Shon Alexander- G, Creighton
- Nate Hinton- G/F, Houston
- Sam Merrill- G, Utah State
- Justinian Jessup- G/F, Boise St.
- Freddie Gillespie- F/C, Baylor
If they elect to add a 2nd round pick, it will be interesting to see the direction they go with it. I would say adding a big man like Killian Tillie would make a ton of sense due to the shallow free agent market for reserve bigs, and he should be at or near the top of their list if they want a cheap roster spot filled with an NBA-ready prospect. For example, I’d much rather buy a pick and select Tillie than exercise Kaminsky’s team-option.
If Phoenix wants to move on from Ty Jerome then adding someone like a Grant Riller or a Malachi Flynn could also prove to be worthwhile and return optimal value from a 2nd round pick. It’s impossible to project exactly where these guys will go, as the range has been all over the place for this “flat” draft talent-wise, but the odds are at least a few of these guys will drop.
Which 2nd round prospect is on your radar?