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Suns pick PG Tyrese Haliburton in The Ringer’s NBA mock draft 1.0

Starting power forward, backup guard and wing are likely atop the Phoenix Suns’ to-do list this coming offseason.

When that offseason officially comes remains up in the air, but somewhere in mid-November appears to be the earliest possible 2020 NBA Draft date.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor on Tuesday released his first NBA mock draft following the results of the August draft lottery, and with it comes more promise the Suns could fill one of the immediate needs with a talent who also might develop into a larger role down the road.

O’Connor has Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton falling to 10th, where Phoenix scoops him up.

Ricky Rubio has shown the importance of having a second playmaker next to Devin Booker. Rubio pushes Booker off the ball more often, giving him a more balanced offensive diet that leads to more efficient results. But Rubio turns 30 in October and has only two seasons left on his contract. Haliburton, another high-IQ passer who can play well with or without the ball, could be an immediate contributor and Phoenix’s ideal successor for Rubio.

A wiry but long guard at 6-foot-5, Haliburton averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore before a wrist injury ended his season at 22 games.

He’s an efficient scorer who in two college seasons shot 51% from the floor, 43% from three-point land and 78% from the foul stripe. The comparisons to Rubio are easy to make.

Haliburton isn’t an elite athlete, nor the most high-level on-the-ball creator, and because of it he struggles to get to the foul line or get to the rim. Still, he’s a high-level play-maker and can manipulate passing lanes without pounding the air out of the ball. He’s no slouch either due to his length, and added strength and a willingness to keep the dribble alive could lead to improvement attacking the rim himself or allowing more time for teammates to roll or pop.

With added weight, he could potentially add positional versatility on defense to play behind Rubio and Booker right away. Keeping the starters fresh, especially with Rubio’s mileage, could pay dividends immediately if he landed on the Suns as a rookie.

Haliburton’s potential to grow into a starting role with Rubio’s contract up in two years is not a stretch when looking at his profile.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony also had Haliburton landing with the Suns in an April mock draft, another sign that the unpredictable mess ahead of Phoenix’s 10th overall pick could land it a player who fits coach Monty Williams’ 0.5 offense.

Haliburton gets to the Suns in O’Connor’s mock with Georgia scorer Anthony Edwards first off the board and the usual suspects making up the first few tiers of prospects. The one surprise is Florida State wing Patrick Williams jumping into the top-eight, as O’Connor says the youngster is gaining some buzz.

How much a coronavirus-restricted offseason ahead will impact other players receiving buzz, or not, remains to be seen. As we sit here today though, the Suns should feel good about finding an impact player with that No. 10 pick despite this draft class being anything but clear-cut.

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