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2021 NBA Draft Preview: Scouting potential James Jones targets for Suns

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The draft is out of sight out of mind for most Suns fans as they embark on a serious playoff run, but it’s never too early to take a look at some potential targets as college basketball hits its stride.

2019-20 Phoenix Suns Media Day Photo by Barry Gossage NBAE via Getty Images

Disclaimer: Look, I get it. Most Suns fans probably do not care about the NBA Draft at all this year, especially given the hot start and likelihood that they will not be in the NBA Draft Lottery this season.

That being said, with college football nearing it’s conclusion and the NFL playoffs about to begin, we’re going to arrive to prime-time college basketball and March Madness sooner than you think, so we might as well preview some names to watch for you hoops junkies. We’ll take a quick dive on some targets that make sense for Jones and the Suns front office that fit their identity based on the brief draft history they have.

Suns Draft Track Record under James Jones:

  • Cameron Johnson (11th)
  • Ty Jerome (24th)
  • Jalen Lecque (UDFA)
  • Tariq Owens (UFDA)
  • Jalen Smith (10th)
  • Ty-Shon Alexander (UDFA)

Top tier prospects that will almost certainly be out of their range, but are worth monitoring:

Prospects in the next tier (in no particular order)


The past two drafts, Jones did not care about your big boards or what the consensus thought. He took his guy, which is truly admirable in league where not many teams zig while everyone else zags.

Speaking of Zags, the first prospect on the board that makes too much sense is Gonzaga’s own, Corey Kispert. We’ll briefly dive into his game along with 10 other potential prospects that fit what James Jones could be looking to add.

5 names to watch for the Phoenix Suns


1. Corey Kispert, 6’7”- G/F: Gonzaga

Draft range: Mid-to-late 1st

Kispert is having a ridiculous senior season for the best team in the country in Gonzaga. He’s the clear number one James Jones “type” in this draft for me, and his projected range seems to be mid-to-late 1st, which could be right in the Suns wheelhouse. Yes, it’s early January and I’m already proclaiming Kispert as the Suns pick.

In 10 games, Kispert is averaging 21.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.2 APG on an absurd .779 True Shooting percentage.

2. Bones Hyland, 6’3”- G: VCU

Draft range: Late 1st to mid-2nd

Nah’Shon (Bones) Hyland is the best shooter in this draft class due to his versatility off the bounce and ability to hit shots from nearly anywhere on the court. Along with that, he has the best name in the class.

I wrote a very in-depth piece on him here ‘Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland NBA Scouting Report’ if you’d like to take a closer look at his game.

3. Matthew Hurt, 6’9”- F/C: Duke

Draft range: Late 1st-to-mid 2nd

Let’s see. Hurt is tall, can shoot the ball, has a high feel for the game, plays in the ACC and he’s not a freshman. Checks a lot of James Jones boxes for me. The big fella from Duke has shot 39 percent from deep on a decent volume in his first two seasons combined.

They may not target a big like Hurt after taking Smith last year, but he's someone that I could see on their short-list of bigs they could pursue.

4. Cameron Thomas, 6’4”- SG: LSU

Draft range: Late 1st-to-mid 2nd

James Jones has had quite the success in adding players with the first name ‘Cameron’, so in my expertise this could be a worthwhile investment to keep the Cam trend running strong. Really though, Thomas is a straight gunner that only has one thing in mind when he’s on the floor: score the basketball.

As a freshman he is averaging an eye-popping 24.6 PPG on a .605 True Shooting Percentage.

5. Mojave King, 6’5”- SG: Cairns Taipans (NBL)

Draft range: Mid 1st-to-early 2nd

Mojave King’s favorite player to watch is Devin Booker and his favorite team is... (drumroll please) your Phoenix Suns. To sum up King’s game in short, he’s a unique three-level scorer that can shoot lights out. I’m not comparing him to Devin Booker, but there are some similarities and you can tell he’s watched a lot of Booker film with some of the ways he attacks the basket and weaves through traffic.

Be sure to keep an eye out for him and Josh Giddey in the NBL this season.


Honorable mentions:

Here are a few bonus names to watch that fit Jones’ “type”.

Tre Mann, 6’5”- PG: Florida

Kessler Edwards, 6’9”- F/C: Pepperdine

Yves Pons, 6’7”- F/C: Tennesse

Dawson Garcia, 6’10”- F/C: Marquette

Sam Hauser, 6’8”- Virginia

Trey Murphy III, 6’9”- Virginia