On May 15, 2018, the NBA held there annual NBA Draft Lottery and for the first time in the history of the Phoenix Suns organization they won the lottery. Winning the lottery is a big deal for the franchise and could, possibly, set them up for success for years to come. Now let’s focus on the possibilities and scenarios that come with the top pick:
Keep building towards a bright future:
Over the last few seasons, the Suns have landed two top four picks. In 2016 with the fourth overall pick, they selected Dragan Bender and in 2017, with the fourth pick, they selected Josh Jackson from the University of Kansas.
This coming draft they will have the number one pick. The player they choose could help the Suns start the season with a good nucleus of young players. With Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, Jackson, Bender, and the player they draft, this could very well be a make or break pick for Phoenix . We have seen Boston and Philadelphia, over the last few seasons, acquire all of their young talent. Now, they have turned into conference and maybe Finals contenders. The Suns’ organization has to be giddy with those teams in mind as they created the blueprint.
Building around Booker:
Booker will be a free agent after this coming season. The Suns will need to keep building around him to ensure that he does not leave. The player they add at number one will be another building block for this young suns team. Booker has proven he can be a leader on the court even at a young age whomever they choose at number one that player would be well mentored by Booker.
The Suns, currently, have a good set of building blocks in place with TJ Warren Jackson, Chriss, , and Bender. The Suns still need to give Booker help in the back court by either re-signing Elfrid Payton or drafting a point guard. They need a cerebral presence in the paint as well. The roster, as is, will not be enough to keep Booker in the dessert. In other words, a consistent Robin to his Batman is needed. Warren and Jackson are capable of being that, but they have to become more well-rounded as well as consistent. Maybe his Robin is in this draft.
The Kokoskov Effect:
Igor Kokoskov steps in to an ideal role for a first year head coach. A young roster filled with talented players and the number one overall pick in the upcoming draft is a dream scenario for anyone. His coaching style is important, but he will need to adjust to the talent that they have. They will push the ball when needed and mainly spread the floor kind of like the Utah Jazz. Look for Phoenix to utilize Booker in ways like Donovan Mitchell. This type of system is something that could benefit Booker and his supporting cast as the Suns look to have a more cohesive offense next season. The player Phoenix picks would need to be able to fit into Kokoskov’s system.
The number one pick in the draft seems to be down to two players that would fit a need for Phoenix in DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic. The question seems to be: Who is the better player that fits the Suns?
Ayton, the 7’1 250-pound center from Arizona, averaged a double-double with 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. Addressing the center position could be a need for the Suns as Alex Len is a free agent and Tyson Chandler could face a contract buyout. He played at Arizona so maybe there is a bit of hometown cooking in mind with picking him as he would already have fans coming to the arena. In addition to potentially being box office, Ayton has the post presence as well as the shooting touch needed to make an immediate impact. He is a unicorn like most of today’s big men.
If the Suns are in need of a point guard, they could take the 6’8 international swing man, Doncic, who can handle the basketball very well. He has a connection with Kokoskov as he coached Doncic in 2017, coaching for Slovenia. Doncic played for Real Madrid this past season as he was the 2018 EuroLeague MVP, EuroLeague, Euro Final Four MVP, and won a championship. Doncic averaged 14.5 points per game with 4.2 assists and 3.4.
Keep or Trade Number One:
One big question owner Robert Sarver and general manager Ryan McDonough is: Are they willing to part ways with the number one pick for the right price? Over the last few days, it has been mentioned that Minnesota Timberwolves big man and former number one overall pick, Karl Anthony-Towns, could be available. This would be very interesting, if he is available, as the Suns are in need of a big man. His friendship with Booker makes the rumors even more palpable as Suns fans have to be dreaming. Imagine a pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop scenario featuring Book and KAT.
On the flip side, keeping the number one pick and taking a player that could be a cornerstone piece alongside Booker and Jackson would be a another viable option. It would give the Suns a chance to build through the draft and watch their young players go through growing pains. Heck, maybe they compete for an eighth spot right away. It will definitely be decision time for the Suns management when they are on the clock in the draft.
Phoenix fans have been waiting 50 years for this moment to draft first in the NBA Draft. This could be a pick that transforms them for years to come or sets them back. Either way they need to find a way to beef up their young roster that already has a young star in Booker and a player with star potential in Jackson.