EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

22 for 22: Why Phoenix Suns’ 2024 NBA Draft pick is so valuable

Jun 4, 2024, 8:15 PM | Updated: Jun 5, 2024, 9:39 am

Leading up to the first day of the 2024 NBA Draft, we will take a stroll down 22 different avenues to fully unpack the No. 22 selection the Phoenix Suns own, arguably their most valuable asset in a critical offseason. Trade hypotheticals, prospect analysis and more will cover the entire landscape to determine how Phoenix should use the pick.

Seems a bit excessive, no? Three straight weeks of words for one measly draft pick in the late first round. It is an understandable reaction.

But Phoenix has a decision to make that will swing its effort this summer to round out the roster, an effort that will have to be immense to achieve that goal.

The veteran’s minimum is its only option in free agency. The only tradable contracts that will be under real consideration this offseason are Nassir Little, Jusuf Nurkic and David Roddy, three players with little value depending on who you ask. On top of that, because of the Suns’ distinction as a second apron team, they cannot combine salaries in a trade.

It tightens things up on the trade market considerably! So how can the Suns make a deal happen with that in mind? Attaching that pick to one of them. They can also quadruple down on this era and include a first-round pick in 2031, increasing value by placing little to no protections on it. But for the sake of today, we will stick to solely keeping the 2024 selection in mind.

The Suns should do everything they can to hold onto it. They haven’t kept a draft pick since Jalen Smith went 10th overall in 2020. Second-round pick Toumani Camara briefly broke that streak last year before he was quickly shipped off to Portland as a part of the package involving Deandre Ayton.

Having superstars is awesome and ideal. But what pushes contenders over the top is finds on the margins that blossomed beautifully. If Naz Reid wasn’t an undrafted success story for the Minnesota Timberwolves or they selected Malachi Flynn 28th in 2020 instead of Jaden McDaniels, their trajectory would be altered significantly. Miles McBride and Mitchell Robinson were both early second-round picks for the New York Knicks.

The track record for quality NBA players emerging outside of the lottery is there and is aiding some expensive rosters right now. The Golden State Warriors are a luxury tax disaster but at least they know Brandin Podziemski (19th, 2023) will be giving them good run while making a shade under $13 million combined over the next three years. Pascal Siakam’s extension and the one already signed by Tyrese Haliburton are going to quickly make things pricey for the Indiana Pacers, who pay starter Andrew Nembhard (31st, 2022) just $2 million next year.

The odds of Phoenix signing a trustworthy stretch big are astronomical. Those drop when the verb is changed to drafting. The Suns tried to finagle a 3-and-D wing out of nothing last year with Little and Jordan Goodwin plus the minimum signings of Keita Bates-Diop and Yuta Watanabe. The attempt failed, while recent rotation-caliber wings to go 22nd or later in the draft recently include Peyton Watson (30th, ’22), Quentin Grimes (25th, ’21), McDaniels (28th, ’20) and Desmond Bane (30th, ’20).

At the same time, that’s making it sound easier than it is. The draft is a risk. A proven commodity could be available via trade and the cost could come down to that pick.

It’s a difficult choice. Let’s discuss it to a ridiculous degree, shall we?

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