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Center of the Sun: The Fantable cranks up the DeLorean to go back and redo Suns’ past drafts

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Too bad we can only dream about what could have been.

NBA: NBA Draft Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

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Fantable Question of the Week

I can’t begin to guess how many times I’ve heard other Suns fans say something like, “We should have drafted ________ instead of ________” over the past few years. Normally, I’m not one to ponder on “what if’s” or fret over past mistakes but these aren’t normal times.

As NBA/Suns news is sparse and there’s plenty of time to contemplate what could have been, this week I asked our Fantable to do the same and look back at all of the drafts beginning with 2015 to try to redraft them for the Suns. It’s always easy using hindsight as a guide but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what sort of team that the Suns could have put together today just by way of making the most of their picks in past drafts.

Sun-Arc: My mindset going into this exercise:

I tried to be reasonable about who would you really go out and find. Thus I did not bother with undrafted players because it would be too much of a crap shoot in reality. Or maybe I was running out of time for this exercise.

I also tried to figure out how to make a full team, not just take the best players available. In most cases, it worked out that the best player available was a position of need, but I did load up on guards.

I give two possible scenarios of teams built based on the draft, because I see Ayton’s potential for growth to make him possibly be the better player out of he and Doncic, though its obviously looking more likely Luka will be a generational talent. It’d be cool if it didn’t turn out that way, so I’m leaving room for that.

I am not thinking about salary cap issues and who the team is surrounded with much at all. I’m filling roster spots with the best possible available players in the draft, with no new trades for higher picks, etc. I stuck with trades the team really made in 2015, 2016, and 2018 in terms of picks- and then took best player available with the picks that were made available through the trades at the time.

2015:

No changes. Leuer on the team was worth the pick. I stay with Booker at #13

Reasoning: Book is better than anyone else in that draft except for KAT, IMO. And we were not going to get anything all that great with the #44 pick. Leuer was interesting to look at that season, and seemed probably better than any #44 pick.

2016:

#4 pick: Jamaal Murray (taken #7, 4.2 career VORP)

#13 + #28 + BB rights for #8 pick from SAC and select Domantas Sabonis (taken #11, 4.6 career VORP)

#34: Malcom Brogdon (taken #36, 4.4 career VORP)

<comparison: Bender -1.8 VORP; Chriss -.4 VORP, Ulis -1.1 VORP>

Reasoning: We should have been looking for a point guard at that time. Murray has turned into a really good player. During the season, or next offseason, we off-load Bledsoe.

There wasn’t a huge value at the #13 pick that draft. As good as BB has been, I think we get a big man to play along with Booker and Murray.

Too easy in hindsight to take Brogdon at #34. At the time we might think he is the backup, yet given their 5-year age difference and how well Malcom played out of the gate (shot 40% from 3 with nearly 6 assists), he’d definitely end up being the starter. Plus he can play on the wing too.

2017:

#4 pick: Jonathan Isaac (taken #6, 1.87 career VORP)

#32 pick: Jordan Bell (taken #38, 1.2 career VORP)

#54 pick: zero value here

<comparison: Jackson -2.2 VORP, Reed -.3 VORP>

Reasoning: With Booker, Murray, and Sabonis on the team, its time to go find a versatile, long, ruthless defender to play between them. Isaac is basically a taller version of Mikal Bridges. I considered Markkanen, but with the other shooters here, Isaac seemed like a better fit for his defense. Jordan Bell is a decent backup big man behind Sabonis and Isaac.

2018:

#1 pick: scenario #1: Luka (8.2 career VORP) or scenario #2: Ayton (1.9 VORP)

#16 + MIA pick à #10 pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (taken #11, 2.9 career VORP)

#31: scenario #1 Mitchell Robinson (taken #36, 3.3 career VORP) or scenario #2 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (taken #47, -.3 career VORP but shoots over 40% from 3 on high volume)

#59 pick: zero value here

Reasoning:

Scenario 1 means we have Luka, Booker, Shai and Murray on the team. Plenty of guards, but with all of those players, you can play positionless basketball much of the time. Two of Booker, Murray, and Shai are on the court at all times - and there’s Luka too. Mitchell could become a perfect center next to the four guards, who play the smallest three positions, and possibly even playing Luka at PF at times. Fast, loose, and heavy. Mitchell, Isaac, and Shai hold together the defense.

Scenario 2 means we have Ayton, so we go with another guard in Brunson as the break-in-case of emergency guard.

2019:

#6 pick, #32 pick: I go through with the trades the Suns went through on draft night. Even the TJ trade- though I still think better value might have been had, let’s make this about building through the draft.

#11: Brandon Clarke (taken #21, already a 1.5 career VORP and shooting over 40% from three (on small attempts))

#24: I don’t have a good idea about what rookie to take over Jerome, so I’ll stick with him.

<comparison: Cameron Johnson .5 career VORP>

End Result:

Scenario 1 (Starter / off-the-bench)

  • PG: Brogdon / Murray
  • SG: Booker / Shai
  • SF: Doncic / Clarke / Mykhailiuk / Bell
  • PF: Isaac / Sabonis / Clarke
  • C: Sabonis / Robinson

Scenario 2 (Starter / off-the-bench)

  • PG: Brogdon / Murray / Brunson
  • SG: Booker / Shai
  • SF: Shai / Brogdon / Clarke / Mykhailiuk
  • PF: Isaac / Sabonis / Clarke / Bell
  • C: Ayton / Sabonis

At some point starting with the 2017 offseason, we have to consider whether we want Murray or Brogdon as our starting PG, and trade the one we don’t want for a backup wing. To me the choice is easy - I go for the better fit next to Booker and Ayton. Brogdon is bigger, a better defender, better passer, and better 3pt shooter; all aspects that make him a great fit. I’m still showing both on the team roster below, but you can imagine sticking with just one of them. I love the combo of Brogdon, Booker, and Shai on the court together- wow, and next to Isaac and Ayton; that’s a mean team. Though Brogdon, Booker, Doncic, Issac, and Sabonis ain’t bad either.

No team could ever get that fortunate with the draft all those years in a row without some sort of time machine. Someone get Sarver to buy a DeLorean and Doc Brown’s brain, stat!

SDKyle: 2015 Draft:

#13 - Devin Booker. Not going to mess with success on this one.

#44 - Norman Powell. He had a forgettable college career and we’d have been double-stacking at SG, but Powell turned out to be a pretty solid baller in the NBA.

2016 Draft:

#4 - Domantas Sabonis.

The Suns were looking for a versatile big man. They just missed this one. Keeping #13 and #28...

#13 - Paskal Siakam.

#28 - Malcolm Brogdon.

Historically the Suns were looking for PF and PG help in this draft... this is a way better result than the one we got.

2017 Draft

#4 - De’Aaron Fox. Yeah, we just took Brogdon, but Fox’s ability level is too good to pass up here.

#32 - Dillon Brooks. No star him, but a versatile wing with energy and certainly better than Davon Reed.

#54 - Luke Kornet. An upgrade from Peters as a stretch big.

2018 Draft

#1 - Luka Doncic. Booooooooo I know I know.

#10 Mikal Bridges. It makes sense given the offensive firepower we have now, we need some defense.

#31 - Mitchell Robinson

#59 - Kendrick Nunn

2019 Draft

#6 - Traded to Minnesota for #11 P.J. Washington. - Have become a fan of this guy’s game. Does a lot of things pretty well.

#24 - Ty Jerome... honestly it’s kinda early to second guess this pick. It’s not like a lot of studs have emerged that were alternatives here.

#32 - Traded to Indiana in TJ Warren trade

Summary of players added through the Draft from 2015-2019:

Devin Booker, Norman Powell, Domantas Sabonis, Paskal Siakam, Malcolm Brogdon, De’Aaron Fox, Dillon Brooks, Luke Kornet, Luka Doncic, Mikal Bridges, Mitchell Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, P.J. Washington and Ty Jerome.

SouthernSun: Oh, what could have been.

2015:

#13 - Devin Booker

#44 - Christian Wood

2016:

#4 - Jamal Murray

#13 - Pascal Siakam

#28 - Ivica Zubac

#34 - Malcolm Brogdon

2017:

#4 - Jonathan Isaac

#32 - Dillon Brooks

#54 - Jaron Blossomgame (just for the name)

2018:

#1 - Deandre Ayton

#10 - Same trade with the Miami pick and #16, take Mikal

#31 - De’Anthony Melton

#59 - Kendrick Nunn

2019:

#6 - Coby White

I kept the future MIL pick and did not trade for Baynes or the pick to get Jerome.

End result:

PG: Jamal Murray, Coby White

SG: Devin Booker, Malcolm Brogdon, Kendrick Nunn

SF: Kelly Oubre Jr., Mikal Bridges, Dillon Brooks

PF: Pascal Siakam, Jonathan Isaac, Christian Wood

C: Deandre Ayton, Ivica Zubac

Wow. In this alternate reality, the Suns 2nd unit would be about as good as the Suns current starters are. And the Suns current starters aren’t anything to sneeze at.

This team would be in the hunt for a championship next year. Talk about depth.

I can’t decide whether to start Brogdon or Murray at PG next to Book, but I’m leaning Murray to give the Suns another real creator next to Devin.

Alex S: 2015: Keep Booker at #13

#44: Norman Powell

Reason - The 2015 season, the Suns were quite weak at the backup SG position until Devin took over. He eventually went on to start 51 games so there was a void behind him. This was the year that Sonny Weems came from abroad and got minutes, as well John Jenkins and Archie Goodwin. Powell (as a 2nd round pick) wouldn’t have gotten much opportunity in the beginning of his rookie campaign but he’s proven to be a great bench piece on a championship level team in Toronto.

2016: Note 1 - Yes, the Suns should’ve kept BB and the picks. At the time, there was a little bit of logic putting multiple assets towards moving up but hindsight has revealed how poor this draft class was. BUT, I have a different trade.

#4: Jamal Murray

Reason - Ugh. Yes, the Suns were incredibly weak at PF before the 2016 draft. You know what else they were weak at? Backup PG. Bledsoe remains the starter while Jamal is added to the rotation as another Wildcat finds his way onto the roster.

#13: TRADE

Phoenix receives: #11 overall

Orlando receives: #13 and #28 overall

Orlando makes their trade with OKC on June 23rd, AKA the day of the draft. As hindsight GM of the Suns, we slide in before draft day and make this trade with Orlando. As a plus, the Suns also keep Bogdan Bogdanovic.

#11: (VIA Orlando): Domantas Sabonis

Reason - No Chriss/Bender debates! We Sabonis time baby.

#34: Malcolm Brogdon

Reason - He’s good at basketball.

Current Rotation:

  • Bledsoe/Booker/Warren/Sabonis/Chandler
  • Murray/Powell/Tucker/Dudley/Len

2017: #4 - Lauri Markkanen

Reason - Here’s where it gets interesting. Without the hindsight moves that we’ve done, Fox would’ve been the pick. However, we have Jamal Murray who will now be taking over the starting spot with Eric Bledsoe not wanting to be here. In hindsight, we’ll make the same Bledsoe trade but do it before the season starts to keep it simple. At this point, Sabonis is showing some signs but we need some floor spacing from our front court. Boom, UofA product slides into the rotation.

#32: Monte Morris

Reason- I’m getting a little creative with this one. Murray being a starter allows for competition at the backup PG position. Monté won’t earn it this year, but he’s going to be someone to keep an eye on for 2018.

#54: Cash Considerations

Reason - Who doesn’t like money?

Current rotation:

  • Murray/Booker/Warren/Sabonis/Chandler
  • Brogdon/Powell/Jones Jr./Markkanen/Len

2018: #1 - Luka Doncic

Reason- Listen, I am a big fan of Deandre Ayton. I still can get behind the logic and even the progress we’ve seen from him this year. But this is the hindsight draft. With talented young bigs in Lauri and Domantas, we get yet another promising Euro prospect in Luka to pair next to Booker.

#16: Same exact trade (Mikal Bridges)

Reason - We love Mikal. Futhermore, we’re gonna need a defensive wing with TJ and Luka still on the roster.

#31: Mitchell Robinson

Reason- No DA? Let’s get a young C prospect.

#59: Cash Considerations

Reason - Mo Money!

Current Rotation:

  • Murray/Booker/Doncic/Markkanen/Sabonis
  • Morris/Brogdon/Powell/Warren/Robinson

2019: #11 (VIA Minnesota) - Tyler Herro

Reason - We’ll still make the same trade, just change the player. Welcome, Dario and Tyler.

#24 - Kevin Porter Jr.

Reason - He’s been dynamic for Cleveland this year. Plus, we get Baynes!

#32 - Eric Paschall

Reason - Keep T.J. Warren in this situation, pick up a nice young big.

FINAL PRODUCT:

  • Murray/Booker/Doncic/Markkanen/Sabonis
  • Morris/Brogdon/Bridges/Warren/Baynes
  • Porter Jr/Herro/Powell/Paschall/Robinson

Obviously, this doesn’t account for salaries and circumstances but wow...

As always, many thanks to our Fantable - Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week! (GuarGuar did not participate in this week’s Fantable.)


2019-20 Season Highlights

Deandre Ayton 28 Pts 19 Reb Full Highlights | Suns vs Bulls | February 22, 2020

Mikal Bridges Career High 26 Points Full Highlights (1/18/2020)

Cameron Johnson 21 Points Full Highlights (3/3/2020)

Dario Saric 24 Points Full Highlights (3/10/2020)


Quote of the Week

“We’re still in that mode of working. Not as much as we did before, but we’re still in that mode of preparing and working.” - Monty Williams


News & Notes

Dwyane Wade gushes over Devin Booker: ‘Straight bucket’. Clutch Points

Vecenie’s 4.0 NBA mock draft: Suns snap up Kentucky G Tyrese Maxey. Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports

Kelly Oubre Jr. changes agent, signs with Tobias Harris’ father. Clutch Points

Here are 7 ‘sports’ to watch while real, live sports are on hiatus. CNET.com


This Week in Suns History

On April 2, 1970, in just their second season the Suns played and won their first ever playoff game 112-98 at home over the LA Lakers. The Suns then got their 2nd playoff win at home (their 3rd in the series) on April 4 to take 3-1 series advantage. Unfortunately, the Suns couldn’t get the 4th victory they needed to win the series and progress to the next round of the playoffs. It was during this playoff series that Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn gave the Suns’ home, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the nickname “Madhouse on McDowell.”


Suns Trivia

Over the 7 games in the Suns’ 1st ever playoffs series (1970 vs LA Lakers), Suns Ring of Honor member, Basketball Hall of Fame member and 4 time NBA All-Star Connie Hawkins averaged 25.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 46.9 minutes per game. None of the series games went into OT.


Classic Suns Highlights

MVP Steve Nash & Amar’e Stoudemire vs Dirk Nowitzki Game 5 Battle Highlights 2005 Playoffs - EPIC!


Previewing the Week Ahead

NBA2K Suns games on Twitch

Monday March 30 - vs Cleveland Cavaliers

Wednesday April 1 - vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Friday April 3 - vs Cleveland Cavaliers

Sunday April 5 - vs Chicago Bulls

  • Author’s Note - I’m not certain of the actual game starting times on Twitch.

Replays on Fox Sports AZ


Important Future Dates

To Be Determined.


Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “Who wins a best of 7 games series if the 2004-05 Suns could play the 1992-93 Suns (both teams were 62-20)?”

25% - 2004-05 Suns

75% - 1992-93 Suns

There were 76 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

I’ve been a Suns fan since...

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Their 1st season.
    (6 votes)
  • 10%
    The 1970’s.
    (9 votes)
  • 19%
    The 1980’s.
    (17 votes)
  • 40%
    The 1990’s.
    (35 votes)
  • 16%
    The 2000’s.
    (14 votes)
  • 6%
    The 2010’s.
    (6 votes)
87 votes total Vote Now