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Suns Draft Primer 2020: Point Guard Edition

Should the Suns draft a point guard for the future or look for their solution externally?

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns still need to find their point guard of the future, and luckily for them there are plenty of lead guards in this year’s draft class. The problem is that there aren’t any surefire stars and many of the top prospects in this year’s draft in general have many question marks.

I know it’s tough to think about the draft right now given all of the turmoil the world (and NBA) is facing with the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world.

We don’t know when the draft will be. We don’t know what the pre-draft process will look like. We don’t even know if the players or fans will be there to experience it live. We’ve never seen anything like this before and I don’t have answers to any of those questions.

What I can do is look ahead and get you familiar with the top point guard prospects of the 2020 NBA Draft.

The Suns record is currently 26-39 which places them in the 10th slot in the draft lottery. Below are their odds at each pick:

  • 1st pick = 3.0%
  • 2nd pick = 3.3%
  • 3rd pick = 3.6%
  • 4th pick = 4.0%
  • Picks 5-9 = 0%
  • 10th pick = 65.9%
  • 11th pick = 19.0%
  • 12nd pick = 1.2%
  • Picks 13-14 = >0.0%

As you can see, barring a miracle jump into the top 4 there is a very good chance they will be picking 10th or 11th in this draft. I’ve decided to make my board Suns-specific and go six deep at the point guard position to cover any possibility that could come their way on draft night. There is a very good chance that at least one or two of these prospects will be available when the Suns make their pick.

I am aware they very well could be shopping this pick for some more immediate help, but there are still some players in this draft that could produce as soon as next year despite how negatively this class is perceived.

Suns Specific Draft Board

Completing this exercise was difficult due to the uncertainty of where Phoenix will pick along with who will be off the board when they pick, so in constructing this I decided to stick with the best player available relative to Phoenix’s current roster construction.

1. LaMelo Ball- PG, Illawarra.

6’7”, 180 lbs., 18 years old

Stats: 17.0 PPG, 6.8 APG, 7.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG on 37/25/72 shooting splits in 12 NBL games played— 31.3 minutes per game.

LaMelo is unlikely to be available when Phoenix is picking, as he is widely considered a top 3 pick in this draft at the moment. Standing at 6’7”, Ball is an electric passer and has one of the highest ceilings in this entire draft class despite concerns over his frame and defensive issues.

He will be a nightly triple-double threat that’ll make your jaw drop with some of the passes he will make, but can he actually shoot? Can he defend anyone? Will his shot selection improve? Those are the questions that will limit his upside until they are answered. Due to the lack of star upside in this class, I have him as my number one prospect in large part thanks to that high ceiling, because if he hits... the potential is through the roof.

2. Killian Hayes- PG, ratiopharm Ulm.

6’5”, 192 lbs., 18 years old.

Stats: 12.8 PPG, 6.2 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG, on 45/39/90 shooting splits in 10 EuroCup games played— 26.8 minutes per game.

Hayes has the least amount of flaws in this draft. He is a plug and play guard with a super high basketball IQ. Killian is the player that tops my list of realistic options for the Suns if they are picking 10th due to the chance that he may actually be available if the board shakes out favorably for Phoenix.

He is a well-balanced offensive threat, and while he may lack elite athleticism or burst off the dribble, he is crafty and manipulative with the ball in his hands. He is a three-level scorer and passer, which is extremely rare and why I’ve been back and forth on him and LaMelo as my number one prospect in this year’s draft.

Getting a year or two to develop under Ricky Rubio would certainly help his development curve, but I think he’s one of the most NBA-ready players in this entire class due to his success internationally thus far against grown men at high levels of competition. He could come to Phoenix and play a significant role off the bench right away, and eventually (in the near future) take the reins as the starting point guard for years to come for the Suns.

3. Cole Anthony- PG, North Carolina.

6’3”, 190 lbs., 19 years old.

Stats: 18.5 PPG, 4.0 APG, 5.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, on 38/35/75 shooting splits in 22 games for North Carolina— 34.9 minutes per game.

Cole Anthony was my number one prospect coming into this season, and due to a rough freshman season at UNC along with an injury that caused him to miss some time, he has seen his stock slowly plummet.

He’s had some flashes where he reminds everyone why he was ranked so high coming into the season, and his team environment wasn’t exactly the best as he played on a very bad North Carolina team. Much like Anthony Edwards has dealt with in Georgia this year, being surrounded by poor teammates hasn’t really given us a glimpse at how they can be optimized on a good team.

I like his fit next to Devin Booker because he can play off the ball due to his shooting stroke, and he’d get some of the playmaking responsibilities alleviated. Bringing in someone like him (Cole) or Killian Hayes off the bench could give the Suns the scoring punch they so desperately need from their reserves.

His strong start this season is displayed in the tweet below, though it was against poor competition and he struggled later on in the year, it’s a reminder of the dynamic potential he has as a shooter and lead facilitator. I buy the shot and scoring ability, but the shot selection and playmaking need to improve for him to be a productive starting point guard in the NBA.

4. Tyrese Haliburton- PG, Iowa State.

6’5”, 175 lbs., 20 years old.

Stats: 15.2 PPG, 6.5 APG, 5.9 RPG, 2.5 SPG, on 50/42/82 shooting splits in 22 games for Iowa State— 36.7 minutes per game.

Haliburton has the best court vision in this entire class, and yes, that includes LaMelo Ball. Ball may be the better passer and showcase flashier dimes, but the vision Haliburton has is incredible and will leave you speechless at times.

He is excellent out of the pick and roll, makes good decisions on both ends and understands how to play team defense at a high level. There are concerns about his ability to create his own shot at times, and his jumper is statistically sound, but very unorthodox and the slow, awkward release has some scouts worried. If you plug him next to a shot creator like Devin Booker to take the scoring burden off him I believe he could thrive and do what he does best— get others involved and wreak havoc in transition.

5. Tyrese Maxey- PG/SG, Kentucky.

6’3”, 198 lbs., 19 years old.

Stats: 14.0 PPG, 3.2 APG, 4.3 RPG, 0.9 SPG, on 43/29/83 shooting splits in 31 games played for Kentucky— 34.5 minutes per game.

Maxey is slowly gaining ground on this board in terms of surpassing Haliburton and Anthony as one of my favorite non-Ball or Hayes picks for the Suns. He is best suited as a secondary playmaker, and excels off the ball meaning him and Booker could co-exist.

His shooting numbers aren’t indicative of what kind of shooter he will be at the next level, as I believe he will be a plus shooter. He is a terrific finisher as well and isn't afraid of contact.

Defensively he is a plus. He has quick reactions on rotations/reads and moves fluidly. Maxey has flashed some tendencies that remind me of Jrue Holiday on that end at times. Obviously Holiday is a different animal right now, but with added strength and experience it’s not out of the question for him to reach that level defensively at his peak. The thing I like about him most can’t be measured by a metric— his competitive edge. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see him in March Madness, as oddly enough he is the only one of these six prospects that would actually play in it.

6. RJ Hampton- G, New Zealand Breakers.

6’5”, 185 lbs., 19 years old.

Stats: 8.8 PPG, 2.4 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG, on 40/29/68 shooting splits in 15 NBL games played— 20.6 minutes per game.

Hampton is a ball of talent. He has the shiftiness, speed and size that leaves scouts drooling, but the biggest question with him is what is his elite at? Currently used as a swiss army knife and work in progress, Hampton has shown flashes of why he entered the season a projected lottery pick, but did he do enough to convince scouts he’s worth a top 10 pick in his 15 NBL games before getting injured? I’m not quite sure. I could see a team falling in love with him in a private workout and “reaching” for him, but I personally have him just outside of the top 10 right now.

Hampton’s talent is undeniable, but players that don’t have elite skills or archetypes you can visualize truly scare me as prospects.

Honorable mentions: (not in order)

Kira Lewis, Nico Mannion, Theo Maledon, Devon Dotson, Tre Jones and Tyrell Terry.

If you want to learn more about these prospects in-depth, here are some excellent scouting reports by former Suns draft consultant Spencer Pearlman of the Stepien. Highly recommend following him on twitter as well. (links attached below)

If anyone has any questions about these prospects please feel free to drop them below and I will reply to them.

Next week I will be focusing on shooting guards for the upcoming draft.

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