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Phoenix Suns Draft Primer: Guard Edition includes Butler, Bones, Tre and more

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We will quickfire 9 guards that make sense as targets for the Suns with the 29th pick.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Baylor vs Gonzaga Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is rapidly approaching so it’s time to get familiar with as many names as possible with such a short turnover time.

The 2021 NBA Draft is this Thursday, July 29. The Suns will pick at the bottom of the first round.

I’ve been on the record now saying I’d prefer the Phoenix Suns taking a guard creator over a big in most cases. The reasoning behind this is that Jalen Smith is already in the system and it’s fairly easy to find a cheap big man in free agency.

Adding a secondary creator off the bench to pair with Payne in a low usage role to start would be more than ideal from a developmental perspective.

Disclaimer: If a guard you’re high on was excluded, it’s likely due to me assuming they will be off the board when Phoenix picks at 29th overall.


9 Guards on the Suns’ radar

Round 1, 29th pick overall

Jared Butler- Point Guard, 6’3” (Baylor)

  • Role: Shifty Creator + Floor Spacer
  • Stats: 16.7 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 SPG on 47/41/78 shooting splits.

Butler is a shifty guard with an elite handle that can score from nearly any point on the court. He has good size and strength for a point guard but can also play off-the-ball as well. His point of attack defense is very solid, and he’s as NBA-ready as a guard can be.

If he’s there at 29, Phoenix shouldn’t think twice. It’s difficult to imagine him being available this deep into the draft, but if teams overthink the medical red flag that popped up, who knows how far he can drop. Cross your fingers.

Jaden Springer- Combo Guard, 6’5” (Tennessee)

  • Role: Secondary Creator + Versatile Defender + Three Level Scorer
  • Stats: 12.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.2 SPG on 46/43/81 shooting splits.

Springer dropping to 29 would be a bit of a surprise, but he’s someone you have to sprint to the podium for if he’s still there. He got invited to the Green Room, so again, I want to reiterate he’s not a likely option.

The reason for his inclusion is because he’s been mocked to Phoenix (twice) by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and he’s also confirmed to have met with the Suns. He’s a three-level scorer with a plus frame and athleticism to boot.

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland- Combo Guard, 6’3” (VCU)

  • Role: Floor Spacer + Secondary Creator
  • Stats: 19.5 PPG 4.7 APG, 2.1 APG, 1.9 SPG on 44/37/86 shooting splits.

“Bones” Hyland is one of my favorite prospects in this draft class, and someone the Suns should seriously consider if he’s available at 29 for a myriad of reasons. He’s a pull-up threat that can handle limited creation responsibilities and excels off the ball. In my opinion, he’s the most dangerous shooter in the class due to how many ways he can get his shot off.

Tre Mann- Combo Guard, 6’5” (Florida)

  • Role: Secondary Creator + Pull-Up Threat
  • Stats: 16.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.4 SPG on 46/40/83 shooting splits.

Tre Mann is someone that would fit right in Phoenix’s system with his size, quick decision-making, and pull-up shooting. As a combo guard that could play alongside any of Paul, Payne, and Booker, it’ll be tough to find a better fit from a roster construction standpoint.

Josh Christopher- Shooting Guard, 6’5” (Arizona State)

  • Role: Downhill Threat + Scorer + Off-Ball Creator
  • Stats: 14.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.5 SPG on 43/30/80 shooting splits.

Christopher is an explosive athlete with good size and strength for a two-guard. While he isn’t necessarily a James Jones “type”, this could be the year to take a swing and let a younger prospect develop on the back-end of the bench given they do not own a first-round pick in 2022.

Miles “Deuce” McBride- Combo Guard, 6’2” (West Virginia)

  • Role: Secondary Creator + Disruptive Defender
  • Stats: 15.9 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.9 SPG on 43/41/81 shooting splits.

McBride is a legitimately disruptive point-of-attack defender with a long wingspan (~6’9”) to offset his 6’2” height. Deuce is a dangerous pull-up shooter from deep as well, which is certainly a skill the Suns could use more of. Think longer Jevon Carter with some pull-up shooting gravity.

Quentin Grimes- Shooting Guard, 6’5” (Houston)

  • Role: Floor Spacer + Microwave Scorer
  • Stats: 17.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.4 SPG on 40/40/78 shooting splits.

Grimes has some real juice when it comes to the jumper. The intersection of volume (8+ attempts per game) and efficiency (40% from three) is tough to match. He’s a more established player that has gone through some adversity (transferring) and rebuilt his value the hard way, which could add some appeal to him from James Jones’ perspective.

I’ve been able to confirm that Grimes has indeed worked out for Phoenix, so there could be some traction there.

Joel Ayayi- Shooting Guard, 6’5” (Gonzaga)

  • Role: Swiss Army Knife + Secondary Creator
  • Stats: 12.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.1 SPG on 57/39/78 shooting splits.

The Gonzaga guard was by far the most unheralded member of the historically great Bulldogs squad. He is a well-rounded do-it-all guard that will likely carve out a long professional career due to his high feel for the game combined with functional athleticism.

Ayo Dosunmu- Combo Guard, 6’5” (Illinois)

  • Role: All-Around Guard + Off-Ball Creator + Scorer
  • Stats: 20.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.1 SPG on 48/39/78 shooting splits.

To be clear here, I’m not really on board with Dosunmu as a prospect for the Suns. He lacks a quick first step and I’m not sure he does any single thing at an elite level that will translate right away. While he could very well prove me wrong and carve out a role as an off-guard that figures it out in the NBA, I’d pass on him over any of the options listed above.

Honorable Mentions

  • David Johnson- Guard, 6’5” (Louisville)
  • Daishen Nix- Point Guard, 6’5” (G League Ignite)
  • Jason Preston- Guard, 6’5” (Ohio)

Keep an eye out for our upcoming positional primers. We’ll cover the wings on Wednesday and bigs on Thursday to get you as familiar as possible with a plethora of names in this draft in a short period of time.