EMPIRE OF THE SUNS
Empire of the Suns NBA Mock Draft: Suns get their point guard
We are a day out from the 2019 NBA Draft and it’s shaping up to an unpredictable and trade-filled night.
Here’s a final mock draft to get ready for Thursday, with the Phoenix Suns currently sitting sixth overall.
This mock is one writer’s opinion on the class and not an outright prediction on who will be picked where.
1. New Orleans Pelicans — Zion Williamson, ?, Duke
What a two months for the Pelicans. They were one of the worst teams in the league to watch after the All-Star break, looking completely over Anthony Davis’ semantics and ready for an offseason. Then, they win the lottery for Zion, acquire assets they can deal for a great player in exchange for Davis and have exciting young pieces in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to feature next to Williamson. Man, would have been nice to see David Griffin running the Suns, eh?
2. Memphis Grizzlies — Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
With all the hoopla the last six weeks, we’ve been quick to forget how big of winners the Grizzlies were on lottery night. In a draft that drops off quick, they moved up and got the heir-apparent to arguably the franchise’s greatest player and an extremely exciting young point guard to watch grow. Morant’s floor-ceiling range is ginormous for a top-two pick, but he’s going to be a whole lot of fun.
3. New York Knicks — R.J. Barrett, G/F, Duke
Hey now! The Knicks are reportedly interested in Darius Garland at this spot when we assumed for weeks it would be Barrett. The Suns should already be calling the Pelicans about this potential scenario to trade up. While Barrett isn’t technically a point guard, he’s essentially the same type of guard prospect as Garland or Coby White, but better. I call smokescreen here, but the Knicks are stupid enough times to where you could classify them as idiots.
4. New Orleans Pelicans (via LAL) — Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
Yes, the Pelicans have enough guards, but the growing belief appears to be Garland’s the best prospect available here by a decent margin. Whether the Pelicans deal this pick or not, I think Griffin would go value over fit here, unless they are really into Culver.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers — Jarrett Culver, G/F, Texas Tech
Great outcome for the Cavaliers, who have to be fawning over Culver with how he’d fit for new head coach John Beilein’s modern systems coming out of Michigan. There has been too much noise here about a guard selection, so keep an eye on Garland and White too.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves (via PHX) — De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia
Suns to Timberwolves: No. 6, Tyler Johnson, Milwaukee Bucks top-7 protected 2020 first-round pick
Suns receive: No. 11, Jeff Teague
(The Suns would have to make this move after the draft, as Johnson has not opted in yet on his player option. Shouts to Seven Seconds or Less Podcast’s David Nash for double-checking the legality of this)
Phoenix would have to bet on Minnesota being low enough on Teague to take the value of five spots up in the draft and an extra first-round pick. Adding Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren would push the deal over the top, but there are unavoidable salary complications.
Teague is precisely what the Suns want: a low-usage point guard who can be trusted as a playmaker. Teague’s 8.2 assists per game in 42 appearances last season would have tied him for the fourth-most in the NBA, and he attempted under 10 shots a game. He’s on a $19 million expiring, and at 32 years old, could be pursued again the following offseason on a short deal if everything were to work out.
Minnesota adds Hunter as the third guy in the Robert Covington and Dario Saric forward rotation, a spot they’ve been desperate to fill for years, and an intriguing long-term shooting/defense combo next to Karl-Anthony Towns.
7. Chicago Bulls — Coby White, G, North Carolina
Not a fan of White, but Chicago has tried and failed to get a long-term point guard option for years. Other logical options on the board that aren’t guards would clutter their young core of Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.
8. Atlanta Hawks — Cam Reddish, G, Duke
Reddish is exactly the type of prospect the Hawks should target if they plan on making more than one selection in the first round. A swing on his high-volume shooting and potential wing versatility could accent the space between Trae Young and John Collins very well.
9. Washington Wizards — Sekou Doumbouya, F, France
So, the Wizards are pretty screwed. Either they can look at this pick for a prospect more reliable or hope they strike gold on someone who can help salvage what’s left. I’ll go with the latter and the prayer that Doumbouya can be some version of Pascal Siakam.
10. Atlanta Hawks (via DAL) — Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia
Bitadze and Collins together has a very, very high ceiling. The two together would maul teams inside on the glass and finish everything around the rim. Defensively, there are questions, but the two also have the potential to shoot, and Young would maximize them even further.
11. Phoenix Suns (via MIN) — Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Gonzaga
There’s decent enough value in getting Clarke at sixth, but it’s a huge win to move down and still get him in this scenario. Not only does Clarke fill a need and give the Suns something they want on the court, but him and Deandre Ayton’s skillsets bounce very nicely off each other.
12. Charlotte Hornets — Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
The Hornets are a disaster if Kemba Walker leaves, but they’ve at least got something in terms of young talent with Malik Monk and Miles Bridges. They’d have the benefit of letting Hayes take the much-needed time he needs to sit behind a veteran for a year or two, in this case being Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller.
13. Miami Heat — Kevin Porter Jr. SG, USC
Porter’s got a real shot at being a serious problem off the bounce and Miami’s as good of a situation as any to get the right development path for him.
14. Boston Celtics (via SAC) — Grant Williams, F, Tennessee
With three firsts, Boston should use this first pick to draft who they think has the best chance of being a rotation piece. Williams is that, but it’s a crowded group of unproven youngsters in the backend of the Celtics’ roster with Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele and Robert Williams. I’d still take Williams given his versatility as a frontcourt player.
15. Detroit Pistons — Nassir Little, F, North Carolina
Little’s one of the four guys in this class I have no idea where to put, and this seems like a fair enough range for a team like the Pistons to look for an unorthodox four-man.
16. Orlando Magic — Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech
He has long arms! The Magic love basketball dudes with long arms! And Alexander-Walker is a smart, crafty guard to boot.
17. Atlanta Hawks (via BKN) — Cameron Johnson, PF, North Carolina
Another shooter for Trae. Next!
18. Indiana Pacers — Matisse Thybulle, F/G, Washington
I’m sure the Pacers have grander aspirations and holes to potentially fill on the depth chart, but watching Thybulle defend with Victor Oladipo takes precedent.
19. San Antonio Spurs — Romeo Langford, G/F, Indiana
Langford could seriously have been a top-five pick in this draft if he had a great year for the Hoosiers. He did not, and he’s a complete mystery in terms of projecting him in a few years so let’s leave it to the Spurs to figure that out.
20. Boston Celtics (via LAC) — Bol Bol, C, Oregon
The Celtics, nor any team in the league, can look at Bol and say they’ve already got someone like him. He’s worth a look at this point, despite questions about how he works on the interior.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder — PJ Washington, PF/C, Kentucky
Washington could be exactly what the Thunder need as a balanced, versatile offensive big while playing tough on the inside. The issue is his defense and feel, but you’d want to believe as a role player that he would figure it out.
22. Boston Celtics — Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky
Herro’s a fascinating prospect in his combo guard size, skills and ability to really, really shoot the ball. But once he starts bouncing the ball and attacking, there’s a worry, and he probably won’t be able to guard anyone.
23. Utah Jazz — Luguentz Dort, G, Arizona State
Dort’s got a long, long way to go as a scorer and decision-maker but he has undoubtedly got some appeal as a defender and had some really impressive stretches for Bobby Hurley.
24. Philadelphia 76ers — Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
I’m pretty sure Hachimura doesn’t really know how basketball works so this is an infrastructure bet to help him, uh, learn. Sass aside, he’s just about everything you would want athletically out of a forward and has some skill with the ball too.
25. Portland Trail Blazers — Keldon Johnson, F/G, Kentucky
If I had to bet on five guys in this draft selected outside the lottery to pan out, I’m taking Johnson as one of ’em. He fills out a whole lot of the NBA wing checklist, but he’s a less than inspiring athlete with an iffy jumper and got lost at Kentucky like many highly recruited players do. If a team like Portland with a guard-heavy offense asked him to do certain things, they could get a steal.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via HOU) — Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
Porter’s torn both his ACL’s in the past year, which is terrifying, but a playmaking big of his potential should still have a first-round grade.
27. Brooklyn Nets (via DEN) — Dylan Windler, F, Belmont
Bet on Windler working out immediately if he does. He’s a great rebounder who plays smart and was very efficient as a scorer.
28. Golden State Warriors — Zylan Cheatham, F/C, Arizona State
College basketball’s lovable version of Draymond Green can go learn from the man himself on how to execute those talents at the next level.
29. San Antonio Spurs (via TOR) — Talen Horton-Tucker, G/F, Iowa State
Horton-Tucker joins Little and Langford in the “I could have another 18 months to decide on these guys and I’d still have no idea” camp. Once again, we bail ourselves out by putting them on the Spurs.
30. Milwaukee Bucks — Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State
Brook Lopez replacement!