EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns will have limited draft-and-stash options in 2018 NBA Draft

Jun 15, 2018, 6:55 AM | Updated: 11:09 pm
(Martti Kainulainen/Lehtikuva via AP)...
(Martti Kainulainen/Lehtikuva via AP)
(Martti Kainulainen/Lehtikuva via AP)

The Phoenix Suns have always valued flexibility with assets, cap space and their roster, and that might come into play again during the 2018 NBA Draft.

With four selections in the draft, we can safely rule out the No. 1 overall pick as a potential draft-and-stash selection, but the Suns could save some money and roster space at Nos. 16, 31 and 59.

Monday afternoon saw the league’s deadline for international players to stay in the draft pass and left with it a very limited amount of options.

Two players are considered in the range of both the mid-first round and early second round are point guard out of France Elie Okobo and Bosnia’s scoring wing Dzanan Musa.

A quick note here: Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo reported that Musa wants to come over right away and Okobo said the same when he was in a Suns workout. So, even if these guys are “draft-and-stash candidates” they could be on the roster next season.

Let’s start with Okobo, who has been picking up lots of momentum the past few weeks after a 44-point performance in the French League’s playoffs.

Okobo has good size for a point guard at 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan. His biggest strength, like Musa, is his scoring acumen. Okobo can get buckets, using some crafty lefty moves and having lots of comfort handling the ball and shooting with defenders right on him. When he gets hot, he’s a lethal shooter and that ease goes into his jumper as well.

Athletically, Okobo moves well and chooses his angles even better, which he’s used to show some upside as a defender.

His overall point guard traits, though, need more seasoning. He’s prone to forcing things and is more of a combo guard than a point at this stage in his career.

Okobo worked out for the Suns and said he wants to come over right away, but he’s still only 20 years old and a year or two overseas wouldn’t hurt. On the flip side, he could also provide instant scoring, shooting and athleticism at the guard spot.

In Phoenix, a more natural point guard is a better fit next to Booker, but maybe Okobo is more of a super-third guard anyway. Having a player developing off the roster who could address a team need when he comes over is the best-case scenario for the Suns taking an international prospect.

Based on his buzz at the moment, Okobo doesn’t seem likely to fall to the second round, but ESPN ranks him outside the top-20.

Musa is a prospect that’s not difficult to like the more you watch him.

At 6-foot-9, he moves and handles the ball better than he should, which is important for his slashing game offensively.

Musa has a projectable three-point stroke, but we have to use the term “projectable” because he has been a gunner for Cedevita and his shot selection will have to improve greatly.

Strength-wise, Musa is one of the most underdeveloped prospects in this class. Almost by default, the 19-year-old will have to spend a few seasons overseas to grow his frame.

The Suns don’t have much of a need for Musa, but he’s an asset that could hold value and free up space for the Suns. Musa isn’t seen as threatening for the end of the lottery or a lock for the top-20 and could slip to No. 31, like Okobo.

It is quite the drop-off after those two prospects, to say the least.

ESPN’s highest-rated international prospects after Musa at No. 20 and Okobo at 22nd are in the 40s.

That makes it hard to see anyone else in play at the beginning of round two.

At No. 59, there are options aplenty.

Rodions Kurcus out of Barcelona is the next highest-rated prospect on that list, a former potential first-round pick in last year’s draft. He, though, failed to take that placement with him into his next season and improve on it. A stretch forward, Kurcus will have to knock down perimeter shots while the rest of his game comes together.

Some years, Germany’s Isaac Bonga would have serious hype. In some mold of a point guard and point forward, Bonga is 6-foot-9 with long arms and ability to score and pass off the bounce. He’s one of the rawest players in this process and at 18 years old, would spend a while away from the NBA.

Lastly, Tryggvi Hlinason was in for a Suns workout on Tuesday and would be a project center. At 7-foot-1, Hlinason moves well and has upside as a rim runner and protector. Five years ago, Hlinason was living the farm life and had zero basketball experience, so there is also a chance for upside in the 20-year-old. He’s a real dark horse at No. 31 and a legitimate option at 59.

Penguin Air

Empire of the Suns

Kevin Zimmerman

Atop Kevin Durant wish list, it’s complicated for the Suns and Heat

No matter what the Phoenix Suns can offer for Kevin Durant, it'll be a complex trade to actually pull off a trade with the Brooklyn Nets.
3 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Ho...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker’s latest commitment to Phoenix Suns further cements legacy

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker continues to commit to the city and is on his way to becoming the top player in franchise history.
4 days ago
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) becomes entangled with Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul during ...
Kevin Zimmerman

How the Suns will have the Kevin Durant trade discussion

The Phoenix Suns have shifted into discussing a Durant acquisition at least internally just after noon in Arizona.
4 days ago
General manager James Jones of the Phoenix Suns watches warm-ups to Game One of the Western Confere...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns offseason checklist: What needs to get done in free agency

This is the most difficult offseason for Suns GM James Jones since he got the job in 2019 and I doubt he sees a tougher one in the future.
4 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Aaron Holiday (4) drives between Sacramento Kings guard Josh Jackson (55) and gu...
Kevin Zimmerman

Report: Suns opt against making Aaron Holiday restricted free agent

The Phoenix Suns will not extend a qualifying offer to backup guard Aaron Holiday, giving the team financial relief.
5 days ago
Dennis Schroder #17 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix ...
Kevin Zimmerman

Suns free-agency focus: Will there be a significant upgrade at guard?

The Phoenix Suns could shake up the backcourt to help Chris Paul and Devin Booker manage the load, but how likely is it via free agency?
3 days ago
Suns will have limited draft-and-stash options in 2018 NBA Draft