Let’s start with the featured image.
No, Lauri Markkanen and Kyle Kuzma are not buy-low options at the moment, but they most certainly were this time a year ago (or dating back further). That is the entire premise of this article... finding who might fit that mold next.
Markkanen was out of place in Chicago and eventually dealt for Larry Nance Jr. and a future 2nd-round pick. That’s it. Utah then of course got a haul for Donovan Mitchell that included Markkanen and even the Jazz couldn’t have foreseen him breaking out to this degree.
Kuzma was essentially a throw-in piece to match the salary in the Russell Westbrook trade between the Lakers and Wizards. His game has elevated to another level with the additional opportunities he’s received and is now one of the most highly-coveted players in the trade market.
Julius Randle fits this bill as well after coming off a disappointing season in New York, he has regained his form and suddenly led an emerging Knicks team to what should be another playoff (or play-in) appearance.
The question is, where will the Suns find someone that fits that mold? How can you get ahead of the curve when dealing for a player that is due for a bounceback or breakout season?
Identifying Buy-Low Candidates
Are there any buy-low options that make sense for the Suns?
Here’s what I look for when searching for a player that may fit this criteria:
- Prolonged slumps with prior success at a high level
- Players returning from an injury that hasn’t yet regained their form
- Players in a role that doesn’t suit them/bad team-fit
- Targeting a player that you believe would excel in your system/environment
Potential Buy-Low Candidates
Here’s a list of players that fit the aforementioned criteria when evaluating what may constitute a successful buy-low target.
These names may not all be sexy now, but that’s the point of this exercise.
John Collins- F/C, Atlanta Hawks
For the record, I’m not crazy about this fit if it’s next to Ayton or just in general on the Suns. Collins doesn’t really solve a lot of the Suns’ issues in terms of ability to create for himself or dribble offensively and he isn’t a great defender.
Adding a “tweener” big that is limited on both ends isn’t exactly inspiring or “needle-moving” for me. He is an excellent finisher around the rim and an explosive athlete that could solve some of the rebounding issues for the Suns if they insert him at the four alongside another big.
Jae Crowder has been connected to Atlanta, and the contracts of Saric/Shamet could be attached with picks to allow the Suns to add Collins without giving up key rotation players.
Is that the most optimal path moving forward for Phoenix? My vote is currently no, but he still fits the buy-low criteria for me due to his upside.
D’Angelo Russell- PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota may be reluctant to deal Russell with the improved team play of late, but he’s a fit that makes some sense if both teams want to swap expiring contracts. Minnesota would likely need a first-round pick involved for it to be worth their time.
D’Angelo’s close friendship with Devin Booker has linked the two since they each entered the league. This season, D’Angelo is averaging 17.6 points, 6.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game on a career-high 59.7 TS%.
Russell may not be in Minnesota’s long-term plans and could be an offensive boost to the Suns’ second unit and even play alongside both Booker & Paul in stretches.
Collin Sexton- G, Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz are still competitive, but their depth (yes, they have depth!) will still allow them to sell pieces as they look toward a long-term rebuild.
Sexton has been limited by injuries this season, but we’ve seen how impactful he can be on both sides of the floor at full strength. He is still fairly young as well, so there could be more there looking big picture. He has had two (near-full) seasons averaging 20+ PPG in his age 21 & 22 seasons after all.
The “Young Bull” is averaging 14.3 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.2 RPG on 50% shooting from the field and shooting a career-best 41% from deep in just 23.9 minutes per game.
There’s not a ton of substance here, more just a shot in the dark at a candidate that fits the criteria I’m looking for.
Jalen Suggs- G, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic have a plethora of young, promising guards that they are sorting through in their rotation.
While Suggs still very much could be a part of their long-term plans, it could be privy of the Suns to swipe one of their young guards while they have this depth and flexibility as they search for a direction.
The second-year combo guard has struggled to find his rhythm offensively early in his career, and a change of scenery learning behind CP3 and Booker in a dynamic offense (at full strength) could be exactly what he needs to hit his ceiling.
Disclaimer: None of these guys are THE solution by any means, but if you take a mid-level swing, it can’t hurt to aim for a higher upside return potential.