It hasn’t even been a week since the NBA Finals ended, and the league’s world is already long past the end of the 2016-17 season, as reports of a blockbuster trade hit Friday. The Boston Celtics have agreed to trade the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers for the third selection and a future pick.
The trade is significant for the Phoenix Suns considering they sit No. 4 in the draft, and their former asset is included in the deal.
The outlook for who could be available at No. 4 for the Suns changes
The story of the draft prior to this bombshell of a deal was who the Sixers would take at No. 3. Despite the draft being four days away, there were still not many reports on where the Sixers were leaning.
With the Celtics there, for the time being, it becomes a bit clearer. Last year’s No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown has a lot of similarities to Kansas wing Josh Jackson, so he wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense in green. On the contrary, Jackson’s defensive mentality and motor are perfect for the way the Celtics play.
A player that does fit, however, is Duke forward Jayson Tatum, whose scoring prowess would highly benefit a team desperate for any offense from someone not named Isaiah Thomas. He contrasts nicely with Brown in the long-term.
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski’s report says the Celtics will be down to Jackson or Tatum if Lonzo Ball gets picked second by the Lakers.
Now, there’s also the chance Boston isn’t keeping the pick as Wojnarowski notes.
They’ve been linked to Jimmy Butler and Paul George throughout the season, and the third pick would be one of the most prized assets in a deal for one of the two All-Stars. If the Chicago Bulls or Indiana Pacers were to trade their respective star, they’d be looking for their long-term replacement with that pick, and both Jackson and Tatum profile as that guy.
In that specific scenario, it’s a bad turnout for Phoenix if it wanted Jackson or Tatum since there were reasons both didn’t make sense for Philadelphia at No. 3.
Do the Suns consider moving up more or less because of this?
It gets whacky if the trade and any following moves push the Suns toward moving up.
The only pick it likely doesn’t change is at No. 2, where if the Los Angeles Lakers are leaning toward Ball, they will take him.
If this isn’t the case, however, and the numerous reports linking the Lakers to Jackson have some merit to them, then it becomes real hairy for the Suns.
The Sixers running their halfcourt offense through Ben Simmons would be a terrific match for Ball’s deficiencies in that area, making it logical to see him as the pick for Philadelphia at No. 3 if the Lakers passed on him.
Now, who knows what the team at No. 3 — the Celtics or otherwise — does in that situation.
DraftExpress’ updated mock draft Sunday morning has Tatum going third to Boston and Jackson falling to four.
Does this make the Suns want to capitalize more on the uncertainty and do something like the reported trade of one of the Miami Heat picks to move up to either two or three to get their guy, whether it be Ball, Jackson or Tatum?
The Lakers pick has made landfall
In what will always be the major blemish on Suns general manager Ryan McDonough’s report card, his 2015 trade deadline was mostly a disaster. But the most painful move of trading for Brandon Knight in exchange for a then-protected first-round pick previously acquired from the Lakers was always the most publicized mistake.
On top of Knight’s terrible 2016-17 season, the Lakers pick has finally been put to its proper use by the Sixers. It was enough of an asset to push them up in this year’s draft and likely take the best prospect in this class, Markelle Fultz.
Philadelphia is set up to develop a legitimate big three of players who all have the upside to be a franchise cornerstone in Fultz, Simmons and Joel Embiid.
In theory, the Suns possibly could have been the team with enough assets to move up had they not given up one of their most prized ones — that has arguably gained value since — in exchange for Knight.
That’s not what has happened, though, and there may not be a time McDonough and company are more infuriated by the way the Knight deal turned out than this weekend.
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