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Suns GM confident they can find ‘really good player’ at No. 10 in NBA Draft

Phoenix Suns Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones does an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

The rhythm of an NBA season is often the same but that’s not the case this year.

A disjointed 2019-20 campaign for the Phoenix Suns has brought us to early August, where they were eliminated from the playoffs on the last play of the regular season.

The shift now goes into offseason mode, but that’s after the Suns were already doing some draft scouting all the way back before the season got put on pause.

Suns general manager James Jones said the team will now go back to draft tape they last looked at in March, as the focus rightfully went to the bubble, and that paid off with an 8-0 run.

“There’s a lot that we missed but I’m confident that as we get closer to the draft, there will be ways for us as an organization and for teams as a whole to get closer to the players,” he said of October’s 2020 NBA Draft.

The NBA Draft Lottery’s results on Thursday had the Suns sticking at No. 10 overall, a spot Jones is confident in.

“We think we’ll be able to find a really good player at 10,” he said.

As usual, Jones will be looking for the type of players that fit best with his group and Monty Williams’ system. It’s worth noting that refreshing change in knowing the attributes of what a “Suns player” is.

Jones emphasized basketball IQ and the ability to make quick decisions with the ball, ala Williams’ “0.5” offensive philosophy, along with the skill to make shots and plays in an efficient manner.

Phoenix knows that what it does works on both sides of the floor, so Jones said it’s less about finding guys that are “specialists” and its more focused on versatility.

That matches up with who he drafted last year and added in his first offseason as the team’s permanent general manager.

And when you look at who is projected to be in the range of the mid-to-late lottery, Jones’ checkmarks are filled by a handful of prospects at positions the Suns could use.

Smart shooters on the wings that could follow in Cam Johnson’s footsteps include Florida State’s Devin Vassell and Aaron Nesmith from Vanderbilt.

Skilled, versatile forwards like another Seminole in Patrick Williams and Israel’s Deni Avdija could be there. If a big man with a high-end skill falls like National Player of the Year Obi Toppin or USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, that’s a depth piece Jones might pursue.

And then there’s a potential long-term point guard, where France’s Killian Hayes, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr. and North Carolina’s Cole Anthony could be options.

It’s a great spot for the Suns, as Jones said.

Now, the only issue some might see is that Toppin is the only older prospect in that group. Jones is coming off drafting Johnson and Ty Jerome, who were both four-year players.

But Jones said that’s not an absolute he lives by in the draft.

“I don’t go based on age,” he said.

“If there’s a young player that demonstrated the ability to be a reliable player, to be consistent enough to earn minutes every night I have no problem drafting that player.”


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