PHOENIX SUNS

NBA Draft experts offer mixed positions on Suns’ plans for 1st-round pick at No. 22

May 12, 2024, 5:37 PM | Updated: May 13, 2024, 11:58 am

CEO Josh Bartelstein, general manager James Jones, and owner Matt Ishiba of the Phoenix Suns look o...

CEO Josh Bartelstein, general manager James Jones, and owner Matt Ishiba of the Phoenix Suns look on prior to the game against the Chicago Bulls on November 08, 2023. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The order of the 2024 NBA Draft was finalized on Sunday after the Atlanta Hawks won the draft lottery. The Phoenix Suns are slotted to select at No. 22.

Phoenix can move the pick, but not until the draft on June 26 due to rules preventing teams from trading consecutive picks. The team will be able to use its 2031 first-round pick as a trade chip at that point as well.

Draft pundits are mixed on who the best fit for the Suns is at No. 22, and some are already considering it a placeholder spot in the draft, because of how likely it appears that the pick will be used as a trade chip.

Suns owner Mat Ishbia even outright pointed to as much in his end-of-season media availability.

“If fans like to look in the future and say ‘hey, I really like that 2031 draft pick’ … you ain’t gonna like the Phoenix Suns,” Ishbia said. “Because we’re gonna say draft picks are to get great players.”

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic is one expert thinking of the Suns’ presumed future of trading the pick as a reality already. In his post-lottery mock draft, he slotted in Kansas wing Johnny Furphy at No. 22.

Furphy is projected by scouts as a likely first-round pick, but I’ve placed him here in large part because there is little leaguewide belief in the Suns being the team to will be making this selection. Owner Mat Ishbia is clearly in win-now mode, and the team can package this pick with its 2031 first-rounder to get a player who can provide more immediate value. Additionally, team president and GM James Jones is not known to value the draft highly.

Jeremy Woo of ESPN has a different point of view. He sees No. 22 as a chance for a team restricted by the second apron to add young, controllable talent to the roster.

“This pick is a rare chance to inject the team with young talent on a cost-controlled rookie-scale contract,” Woo said, routing Swedish forward Bobi Klintman to Phoenix.

The 21-year-old Klintman has played collegiately at Wake Forest, professionally in the Australian National Basketball League and internationally in FIBA events, a versatile resume that could endear him to James Jones, who is known to value experience.

“Klintman, who is old enough to be expected to play a role in the short term, also has some intriguing ingredients to develop long term with his size, range and defensive playmaking ability,” Woo added.

Meanwhile, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer provided thoughts on a potential team fit independent of any possible trades. He views Baylor center Yves Missi, a freshman who blocked over 50 shots in 34 games last season, as the right choice.

“The Suns need to find a center who’s better than Jusuf Nurkic and Drew Eubanks,” O’Connor wrote. “Maybe it could be Missi, who has vertical athleticism and switchability.”

If Phoenix does roster the selection at No. 22, that player would slot into a contract estimated at $15.2 million over four years, according to Spotrac, roughly $1 million below the annual value of the expected taxpayer mid-level exception, which the Suns won’t have access to if they remain a second-apron team.

That potential value, especially if the Suns can find a player who can develop well over the four years, is hard to overlook when considering how to approach the draft.

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NBA Draft experts offer mixed positions on Suns’ plans for 1st-round pick at No. 22