Empire of the Suns NBA Mock Draft: Will the Suns land Deandre Ayton?
To wrap up Empire of the Suns’ week of NBA Draft content, let’s run through a full first-round mock draft.
To determine the lottery, we ran one simulation on tankathon.com prior to Wednesday’s action and took any tiebreakers of pick spots by alphabetical order. Yes, this was also a way to get the Suns three first-round picks.
Let’s get into it.
Disclaimer: The selections are not predictions and some of the prospects selected have not made their draft intentions known at this time.
1. Dallas Mavericks – Luka Doncic, F, Real Madrid, 19 years old
Good news, Suns fans. My ranking of Doncic as the No. 1 prospect in this class actually benefits the majority, who want Deandre Ayton in this scenario. A ball-handler partnership of Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. in Rick Carlisle’s system is a tremendous foundation to rebuild around.
2. Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton, PF/C, Arizona, 19 years old
Shaq and Kobe 2.0 is a go. I have my doubts about Ayton’s defense and mentality on the interior, but he has all the talent in the world to be a great player without that and an all-time great player with that.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (via BKN) – Marvin Bagley III, C/PF, Duke, 19 years old
What a fascinating situation this would be. Regardless of LeBron James leaving or not, the lack of under-25 talent on the Cavs means they go for the best full upside pick that could contribute right away, and that’s Bagley.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri, 19 years old
Memphis has little talent outside of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and their two positions are the ones stacked in this part of the draft. That leaves Porter, who is by no means a bad outcome with that note in mind. His shooting and athleticism would thrive immediately playing in a supporting role alongside those two.
5. Atlanta Hawks – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas, 19 years old
With nice, young complementary pieces here and there on the roster, I think Atlanta needs to take a big swing here. Bamba’s rim protection could be elite really soon and he still has a lot of untapped offensive potential.
6. Orlando Magic – Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State, 18 years old
Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Jackson is a tantalizing defensive trio of bigs. Even with Trae Young on the board, I think that’s the right move to immediately create the team’s identity.
7. Sacramento Kings – Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke, 18 years old
Oh, boy. Another year and another big to the Kings. Carter’s solid all-around play would be a change of pace from the more developmental aspects of past selections like Harry Giles, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein.
8. New York Knicks – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma, 19 years old
OH. BOY. This is exactly the type of situation that feels oh-so-perfect for Young. He would have capable offensive players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis to provide for and a future defensive backcourt partner to fill his biggest flaw in Frank Ntilikina.
9. Chicago Bulls – Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova, 21 years old
Lauri Markkanen, Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn are established young players but lack a certain degree of star power. So, do you swing for the fences here or add another “fine” piece to go next to them? I go with the latter. Bridges will help win games right away with his shooting and defense, and he has a pinch of All-Star upside.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via LAL) – Jontay Porter, C, Missouri, 18 years old
Yes, this is the pick dealt by Phoenix in the Brandon Knight trade. Porter is a skilled offensive five who can shoot, giving the Sixers a clearly defined player who isn’t going to over-complicate what they have going with so many other promising young players. And, he could serve as Joel Embiid insurance.
11. Charlotte Hornets — Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State, 19 years old
There is nothing more “meh” than Charlotte’s wing rotation and Bridges’ unique array of skills would be even more valued with that bland group.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via DET) – Zhaire Smith, F/G, Texas Tech, 18 years old
Smith’s heady plays with over-the-top athleticism seem right for a near-playoff team with experienced and capable wings while that team figures out what exactly Smith is.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – De’Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia, 20 years old
Two swings is better than one, right? Hunter’s upside is enormous as a defender and scorer. If the Clippers didn’t have so many guards, I’d love Collin Sexton for them here.
14. Denver Nuggets – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama, 19 years old
I am generally confused by the Nuggets’ roster. They need another point guard, but you can’t play Sexton with Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, right? Maybe you can? I go best player available here with Sexton, who I’m sure Suns fans are mad didn’t slip to 15 in this scenario.
15. Phoenix Suns (via MIA) – Troy Brown, G/F, Oregon, 18 years old
Brown’s passing and athleticism make him worth the wait for his other skills to come together. In this scenario for Phoenix, I’m taking a point guard with one of these picks and trading the other pick — in this case, that means trading Brown. There isn’t much room on the roster as is, and getting a future first-round pick would be easier to manage while you’d wait to see how the offseason unfolds.
16. Phoenix Suns (via MIL) – De’Anthony Melton, PG, USC, 19 years old
Melton’s feel and defense are what the Suns need at point guard. The shot is going to make or break him. Call me crazy, but if Brandon Knight turns out to be relatively average next season, sign me up for the contrasting skill sets these two bring in a point guard rotation.
17. Washington Wizards – Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette High School, 19 years old
Robinson is a huge gamble and while the Wizards have small holes in the rotation, the players in this range couldn’t help so they are better off going with a raw upside pick.
18. Chicago Bulls (via NOP) – Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M, 20 years old
Chicago’s roster is a mess and has guys at nearly every spot. Williams’ defensive flashes make him the best ceiling-outcome grab here.
19. Atlanta Hawks (via MIN) – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky, 19 years old
Remeber Adreian Payne? You probably shouldn’t, to be honest, and Minnesota gave up this pick to get him. Ouch. Gilgeous-Alexander at this spot for a team that could use more guard help would be an outstanding result for Atlanta.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via OKC) – Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami, 19 years old
Minnesota needs shooting and Walker can do that. Having him space the floor and do fun stuff in transition while he develops in limited minutes looks like a great fit on paper.
21. San Antonio Spurs – Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State, 21 years old
At this moment, I realized there are absolutely zero bigs ranked from here until about the 40s, so watch for that development. Bates-Diop is one of the most intriguing players in this class. He has 3-and-D with bits of scoring upside written all over him but is too inconsistent with how he impacts games. The Spurs would make him an All-Star. Obviously.
22. Utah Jazz – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky, 18 years old
I spent too long staring at this pick and trying to figure it out, so when that happens, you just grab the best prospect on the board. Knox could be one of the best 5-10 players in this class if he can put everything together.
23. Indiana Pacers – Jacob Evans, G/F, Cincinnati, 20 years old
Evans seems like a sure-thing to become some iteration of a 3-and-D player but is very limited elsewhere. This feels like a situation the Pacers could get the most out of.
24. Philadelphia 76ers – Dzanan Musa, SF, Cedevita, 18 years old
I don’t know what’s more clear, Musa having NBA skills or him needing more time to develop said skills. The Sixers would be fine with waiting, as they have a full roster and want to be aggressive in free agency.
25. Portland Trail Blazers – Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton, 21 years old
Thomas is a straight-up thief as a defender and an improved jumper makes him a first-round pick. Stick him on the floor with one of Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum at times and you’ll see results.
26. Los Angeles Lakers (via CLE) – Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State, 21 years old
I am a huge Josh Hart guy, but there’s not much around Lonzo Ball in the future backcourt. Shamet is a guy I almost rank higher when factoring in Ball because Ball is better off the ball and a dependable backup point guard behind him in the rotation is perfect.
27. Boston Celtics – Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC, 21 years old
With Brad Stevens, I’m confident in reaching on Metu because of the need for a big. Once considered a near-lottery prospect, Metu has lost any sizzle of real potential with age and has to prove a point right away to whatever team drafts him.
28. Brooklyn Nets (via TOR) – Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan, 20 years old
I’m intrigued at the thought of Wagner as a borderline first-round prospect, as I’m sure many others also are after watching Michigan’s NCAA Tournament run. The Nets have giant holes at center and power forward, even with Jarrett Allen looking good in his rookie season. A stretch big makes a whole lot of sense for them.
29. Golden State Warriors – Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy, 18 years old
Golden State is such an awesome situation they can afford to reach on guys like Simons, and this is probably a bit low for him anyway. Simons has ludicrous athleticism with some serious scoring pop. As was the case with Hamidou Diallo last year, teams will have no idea what Simons actually is, though, and finding out is going to take lots of time.
30. Atlanta Hawks (via HOU) – Shake Milton, G, SMU, 21 years old
Milton is perhaps the most underrated prospect in the draft when it comes to a lack of top-20 buzz despite clear NBA value. Milton shot 42.6, 42.3 and 43.4 percent from three-point range in three years at SMU and has some combo guard skills with the athletic profile to defend well. Dennis Schroder, Gilgeous-Alexander and Milton as a backcourt rotation sounds like a whole lot of fun to me.