22 for 22: Is trading down the Suns’ best option in 2024 NBA Draft?

Jun 7, 2024, 11:56 AM

Bronny James #6 of the USC Trojans warms up prior to the game against UCLA...

Bronny James #6 of the USC Trojans warms up prior to the game against the UCLA Bruins at Galen Center on January 27, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

DaRon Holmes II out of Dayton is one type of prospect the Phoenix Suns could target with the No. 22 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. In this series of 22 conversations to have around the draft, a few more examples are to come.

The Suns, however, should highly consider not only drafting in a different spot but trading down to add picks.

Bronny James’ camp created a month-long news cycle here in late May when The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported James will have a workout in Phoenix.

If we all do our best Brian Windhorst double-point meme and ask why the Suns would do that — beyond the silly notion of luring LeBron James here — Bronny is one of a few prospects we know working out for Phoenix. So far, all of them are firmly graded in a range from the top of the second round to undrafted.

The Suns, as they should, are certainly doing their homework on that section of the draft. Hmmmm.

A momentary review of the value of NBA Draft picks:

There are a few segments of steep drop-offs when judging draft talent: After the top three, the mid-to-late lottery and then the 20-25 range when the last remaining certified “first-round prospects” come off the board. Around the end of the first round is when teams just start taking guys they like, value be damned. And usually, the quality of return on second-round picks takes a dive after pick 40 or so, something to keep in mind as we discuss trade-down scenarios.

Another common draft trope is the team that’s stuck with too many draft selections. It is cute to have a ton of picks until you’ve got seven in the same draft and now have to figure out how to get rid of a few because you can’t just sign seven rookies. This happens the most with late first-round picks and especially second-rounders.

The 2024 draft is a great example of this.

The New York Knicks own pick Nos. 24, 25 and 35. The Minnesota Timberwolves pick 27th and 37th, while it is Nos. 29 and 32 for the Utah Jazz.

The Portland Trail Blazers are already young enough as it is and will be up twice in the lottery, seventh and 14th, before two more second-round selections at 34th and 40th. The Indiana Pacers are slated to go three times in the second round with Nos. 36, 49 and 50.

One of those teams will see the draft panning out in the late teens and notice a certain prospect they love is still on the board. The general managers will start making phone calls, seeking out any chances of trading up. Phoenix, a squad with virtually no young talent and several open roster spots next season, should have a busy phone line.

Look at what the Denver Nuggets did last year in a similar cap-riddled situation. They acquired Nos. 29 and 32 from Indiana in exchange for 40th overall and a future first-round pick.

Denver already owned No. 37 as well, so it went on to select Julian Strawther, Jalen Pickett and Hunter Tyson. Now, none of those three guys cracked the rotation as rookies, but the Nuggets are optimistic that will come in due time.

Phoenix could even take that page out of Denver’s book and involve the 2031 first-round pick if it really wanted to get crazy. Returning to the four-pick Blazers for one hypothetical, the Suns could toss out that selection completely unprotected and No. 22 in exchange for Nos. 7, 34 and 40. Asking for 14 instead of 34 seems greedy, but swap those two if you want to make yourself feel better about the thought exercise and leverage the future even further.

The point is that there is merit in looking at the current draft capital and using it to make this current team as young as possible. Don’t get it twisted, this is all about the now.

Phoenix is too pot committed. It now has to figure out how to give itself the best odds of landing a rotation player for the last two runs in Kevin Durant’s contract. Considering the other options available, the draft is the best way to do it.

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