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NBA Draft Preview: Phoenix Suns draft board

We finally know when the draft will take place, so let’s dive into an early look at who Phoenix should target in October.

NBL Rd 9 - New Zealand v Illawarra Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

The dates are finally set! After months of uncertainty we finally have some specific dates locked in under the NBA’s return proposal that will take place in Orlando. Phoenix is projected to pick 10th currently, and that will likely remain the case barring a miracle 7-1 or 8-0 stretch at Disney World.

  • Draft Combine: Early August (tentative)
  • NBA Draft Lottery: August 25th
  • NBA Draft: October 15th

For reference, here are my positional draft breakdowns that I’ve done over the past couple months.

Do Not Draft a Center

You can go ahead and cross both Onyeka Okongwu and James Wiseman off Phoenix’s draft board, as it would be an absolute shock if they invested in a center with Deandre Ayton already on the roster. Both players are virtual locks to be top 10 picks, which helps Phoenix’s hopes of someone high on their draft board falling to them.

Eliminating Edwards

Anthony Edwards will only be available if the Suns jump into the top 4, and if they make that leap I highly doubt they invest in a shooting guard that doesn’t have playmaking chops or elite floor spacing to ease leaning into “point Book”.

While he is a top 5 prospect for me in general, I do not see the fit in Phoenix making much sense should they make that leap in the draft lottery.

Phoenix Suns Draft Board

TIER 1- Starters with star upside

#1- LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks.

The one player in this draft that has the ability to move the needle for Phoenix and turn them into a legitimate playoff contender if he “hits” is LaMelo Ball without a doubt.

I have run out of adjectives to describe his passing and court vision. He also has the best handle in the class, and when you have the combination of being an elite passer with that type of handle it’s easy to become sold on what he can do as a floor general.

There are valid concerns about his frame, defense, and questionable shot selection. I’m going to choose to believe that the positives outweigh the negatives in his game and the value he adds to your offense can be an absolute game-changer.

#2- Killian Hayes, PG, ratiopharm Ulm.

Hayes is a special talent that has been on an upward trajectory for some time now. If he somehow falls to pick number 10 (or wherever the Suns are picking) they need to take him without thinking twice.

Him and Ball are locked in as my top clear top 2, and I don’t see that changing for the foreseeable future. His creation ability for himself (and others) at his size with his craftiness reminds me a bit of former Phoenix Suns “lefty” point guard, Goran Dragic. He could develop a year under Rubio, then take the reigns as the franchise’s starting point guard as soon as year 2 if he continues his rapid development.

TIER 2- High-level role players, linking players, glue-guys, low-end starters

#3- Devin Vassell, G/F, Florida St.

The whole Vassell “thing” is simple. If you are a fan of Mikal Bridges and all of the intangibles he offers then you will absolutely love this guy.

He projects to fill that same archetype at the next level as a versatile “3&D” wing that has some underrated complimentary skills to boot. He may lack a quick first step or the ideal explosiveness you’d like to see from an NBA prospect, but he makes up for it with his newfound off-the-dribble shooting that he displayed this season at Florida State.

If I had to pick three players that project as the “safest” picks in this class, Vassell would easily make the cut. James Jones hinted that they would be targeting shooting, playmaking and defense this offseason, so based off that comment Vassell checks two of those boxes.

#4- Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa St.

Haliburton’s fit in Phoenix comes down to how confident you are in Devin Booker’s playmaking ability. Hali is more of a linking piece that elevates an offense rather than a typical point guard that can consistently create for himself and others.

He projects as a “glue guy” that boasts elite passing and court vision to go with tremendous off-ball defensive anticipation that often leads to a ton of steals and deflections.

His high-level of basketball IQ to go with his ability to move the ball around and hit spot-up threes at an excellent rate makes him an ideal fit in Phoenix’s system.

#5- Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina.

Anthony is coming off a very disappointing season at North Carolina, but it’s important to take his poor team context at North Carolina into account.

He had virtually zero spacing to operate with which really limited his own creation ability. He also dealt with an injury mid-season that cost him some time, but rather than coasting for the rest of the year he fought back and played through it despite the uninspiring team situation, which I truly admire.

His shooting versatility and pure upside as a dynamic three-level scorer are the main reasons I’m still on board with Phoenix taking Anthony if my top 3 guards are all off the board.

#6- Kira Lewis, PG, Alabama.

Kira is someone I’ve grown to like quite a bit over the course of the year. Lewis is a very explosive player in transition and possesses that De’Aaron Fox-esque blazing speed.

I do worry about his frame and limited defensive upside relative to this roster as he projects to be more of a one position defender, whereas his counterparts such as Hayes, Haliburton, Maxey and even Anthony project to be able to guard 1’s and 2’s and possibly even 3’s at times.Lewis will likely only be able to guard point guards and undersized shooting guards.

He’s a solid point of attack defender and will eventually be able to hold his own there as he adds strength, but he won’t be switchable or add to the defensive versatility potential.

If Phoenix did wind up drafting Lewis I’d have no complaints, because pairing him with Booker would give them a very dynamic offensive backcourt and help with some creation issues.

#7- Patrick Williams, F, Florida St.

The Florida State freshman is one of my favorite under-the-radar fits in Phoenix for many reasons. One reason being his theoretical fit next to Deandre Ayton as a small-ball four that can guard bigger wings and forwards.

While he is a bit more on the project side, he has an NBA-ready body and I think he will be able to contribute in a limited role right away, and potentially develop into a 2-way stud on the wing that impacts winning basketball.

#8 Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky.

Maxey takes some projecting to evaluate, as his statistics and measurables don’t exactly jump off the page. Kentucky guards that are forced into roles that may hold them back due to how stacked their teams typically are along with personnel issues is a common theme for guards under coach Calipari.

He had some magnificent moments and stepped up in big games when they needed him most. While he isn’t a true point guard by any means, he can play both on and off the ball a bit and projects as a quality defender.

He isn’t my first choice in Phoenix, but he would be a solid addition next to Booker in the backcourt and improve their bench’s creation ability immediately.

TIER 3- Talented players that I’m lower on in Phoenix specifically due to poor team fit

#9- Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Deni fits the mold of what Monty Williams likes in terms of being plus playmaker and snappy decision-maker, but his jumper hasn’t yielded the best results to date. His poor percentages (especially at the FT line) are a bit perplexing, because he does have nice form and has displayed solid touch around the basket.

The Suns haven’t had a great track record with developing shooters, and his defensive concerns are troubling. While I do think he will eventually develop into a slightly above-average defender, I’m just not a fan of his fit next to Ayton.

#10- Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn.

Okoro is a high-level defender that does a little bit of everything well on the court, serving as a swiss-army knife type of wing. He has a very high basketball IQ and is a sound decision-maker and someone that projects to serve as a complimentary “glue guy” more than a star or go-to player.

Much like Avdija, his “swing” skill will be his jumper. He has a long ways to go there and the hurdles he’ll have to make offensively will take time. Okoro would boost the wing depth and defensive versatility, but ideally you want a forward next to Ayton that can stretch the floor.

#11- Obi Toppin, F/C, Dayton.

This is where I’ll probably get the most pushback, as I know some Suns fans are in love with the idea of Toppin. While I believe in his offensive package— his age, role and defensive woes are serious concerns that not only impact roster-building, but potentially limit the ceiling for the team down the road.

He is an elite vertical athlete with nice touch and a great feel for how to score in a variety of ways. His offense could be a nice boost for the Suns second unit, but I just don’t think he’ll be elite enough on that end to make up for his aforementioned issues with team-building and defense.

I encourage everyone to watch a full game or two of his and focus on his defensive rotations and how he moves laterally, because it is rough. I do enjoy watching him play, but would prefer watching from afar.

Next Three Out

#12- Grant Riller, PG, Charleston.

#13- Aleksej Pokusevski, F/C, Olympiacos.

#14- RJ Hampton, G, NZ Breakers.

Here’s a really awesome resource I highly recommend that is extremely helpful with player comparisons both statistically and physically for NBA Draft prospects:

Feel free to drop your own personal draft boards or rankings below!

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