EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

NBA Draft reports: Patrick Williams moving up, Suns speak with Lewis

Nov 9, 2020, 3:51 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2020, 7:50 am
Picks one through 30 are seen on the board at the conclusion of the first round during the 2018 NBA...
Picks one through 30 are seen on the board at the conclusion of the first round during the 2018 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 21, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the week before the week of the NBA Draft when reporting starts to solidify on the top prospects: who they’re talking to, who they’re working out with and where they’re slotted to be drafted.

Here’s the latest scuttlebutt as it pertains to the Phoenix Suns picking No. 10 overall.

Top two tiers becoming cemented

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony kicked off this week by reporting that it seems like there could be a consensus top-9, and it includes a surprising ninth name.

Florida State forward Patrick Williams has become one of the winners of the pre-draft process, per Givony, getting discussed as high as fourth overall. Givony writes that he expects LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards to go in the top-3, and that it is “likely” Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, Isaac Okoro, Obi Toppin and Williams are after that in some order.

This is a mild surprise given the way boards have shaped up the past few months, with the most notable name missing being French guard Killian Hayes.

Givony on ESPN’s The Lowe Post said he has Hayes currently slotted 12th in his latest mock draft and that he wouldn’t even be surprised if he fell all the way out of the lottery. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said there has been a surge of interest on Williams in the past few days.

Hayes has his fans and detractors, so his range being fluid isn’t a shock. But as I’ve written in the past and why I have him third on a Suns board, his upside as a primary initiator is rare among this class, and he’s the best on-ball defender among ball-handlers in the lottery.

Hayes always seemed the most likely of that top group to potentially fall to the Suns at No. 10, and Williams’ emergence could help seal that in.

The question is if a player with raw elements to his game is of interest to Suns general manager James Jones. The short-term downside is he’s maybe not ready to contribute positively to the second unit, but the long-term allure could be one of the better theoretical fits to put in a backcourt alongside Devin Booker.

Contenders want to move up

Lowe’s offseason mega-preview over at ESPN is always a must-read, with several fun little nuggets inside. One of them was within his analysis and reporting on Washingon Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal potentially getting dealt.

Multiple strong playoff teams have called teams in the top 10 of the draft, investigating what it would take to acquire those picks, sources have said. Do those teams love a certain prospect? Or are they seeking ammo for a big trade?

That sets off some alarm bells from a Phoenix perspective.

If I were to guess the five prospects that best fit what Jones has said he targets in a player and has indeed targeted, I’d say Haliburton, Desmond Bane, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Joe and Grant Riller.

Those latter four would be considered a reach at 10, and while that hasn’t stopped Jones in the past, he could get more value moving down, something he did just last year.

And if the Suns want to trade out of the first round completely to save more money for free agency, names like Joe and Riller could still be there. Maybe there’s a player twisted in there Phoenix could use in the rotation as well, ala Aron Baynes and Dario Saric.

Kira Lewis Jr. meeting?

Alabama point guard Kira Lewis Jr. has had at least two Zoom meetings with the Suns, per SNY’s Ian Begley.

In some fun social media investigating, Suns head coach Monty Williams was at Alabama A&M University, visiting his daughter who plays volleyball there. Williams responded to a comment on his Instagram post saying this was actually a draft trip, which begs the question of who he was going to see.

Tuscaloosa is a two-hour drive away, so Lewis hits there, but it turns out that Lewis is also from Meridianville, Ala., which is less than 10 minutes from Alabama A&M. Its basketball program was tagged in Williams’ post, and that’s an account Lewis follows, a good point to end our millenial Sherlock Holmes adventure. Like all teams, the Suns are allowed a maximum of 10 in-person workouts, so let’s take an educated guess that Lewis was one of them.

Lewis is one of the handful of guys in the Suns’ range they’ve gotta do some homework on. He could very well be the best point guard available when they pick. This level of activity with him isn’t unusual or some type of indicator they are all-in on him.

But the well-roundedness of his skills at this stage of his career and elite attribute of speed does present some qualities the Suns like, even though he’s a bit underdeveloped for them. He’s certainly on the shortlist of who could be the pick at No. 10.

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