EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

22 for 22: Best trade down targets for Suns in 2024 NBA Draft

Jun 8, 2024, 11:10 AM | Updated: 11:42 am

Houston PG Jamal Shead...

Jamal Shead #1 of the Houston Cougars dribbles the ball during the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at FedExForum on March 24, 2024 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns should trade down in the 2024 NBA Draft if they can find the right deal, inspiring the idea of looking around for who they could potentially snag if they drop to the 30s or 40s.

Here are three names that stick out, one at each need the Suns have on the depth chart.

Three candidates the Suns should consider in the 2024 NBA Draft if they trade down

Adem Bona, C, UCLA, 21 years old

Measurables –6-foot-8, 7-foot-4 wingspan, 243 pounds

Stats – 12.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 2.5 TPG, 58.8 FG%, 0 3P%, 69.6 FT%

Big board rankingsESPN: 39, The Athletic: 57, The Ringer: 60

If Bona were three inches taller he would be in consideration for the lottery.

It was impossible to watch a Bruins game and go just a few possessions without noticing Bona. He is one of the best athletes in this draft. The combination of agility and power is tantalizing.

Those tools pop at every opportunity because he plays like his life is on the line. He’s physical and performs bigger than his size, almost to a fault since foul trouble has been a consistent issue. That won’t be much of a problem in a limited reserve role, though, as opposed to how he had to try and be “the guy” for UCLA without a skill set fit for that.

This is my favorite draft prospect sizzle reel against a futile mid-major from this past season.

 

You want a big man who can scoot on the perimeter? Look. At. This. Dude.

This is great work at the level.

What you see is what you get. There is little to no untapped potential here skill-wise, such as playmaking vision, dribble attacks or shooting. It is worth noting he shot a passable 38.5% on 109 two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math, so he does have some touch. But Bona is going to be a plus defender, diver, rebounder and screener. That’s the appeal.

The value of an energy big like him is difficult to assess. Phoenix essentially went with a jumbo, slower version of Bona on a two-way deal last year in Udoka Azubuike. Bona would be an expansion of that thought with actual viability to defend in every way possible, plus more quickness to shoot the gaps when rolling to the basket.

In a world where Phoenix trades down and picks up an extra second-round pick in the mid-30s to early 50s, Bona is the perfect type of selection for a nuanced role as a young body to compete for backup minutes at the 5 right away.

Jalen Bridges, F, Baylor, 23 years old

Measurables – 6-foot-7, 6-foot-10 wingspan, 213 pounds

Stats – 12.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.6 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.0 TPG, 46.6 FG%, 41.2 3P%, 82.3 FT%

Big board rankingsESPN: 53, The Athletic: 59, The Ringer: 44

Avoiding a full year-round cycle of NBA Draft coverage is just outstanding for your mental health, but it does come with a few pitfalls, namely the, “Wait, why is this guy ranked here?” trap on prospects too low. Then you get into the mind trap vortex of overthinking your novice take on this basketball talent.

Bridges can shoot. The apprehension presumably stems from a 32.4% knockdown rate on 3s the 225 shots from the last two seasons before the jump to 41.2% on 177 attempts (!) as a senior.

The tape is convincing. Look at the guy on the move with a few contests in the way. Love the pump fake in the TCU clip.

The defense is another detraction point from a potential first-round grade. His value is more about heady, reliable team defense than Bridges being a strong on-ball presence. Some of that you see above.

But the size is legit. Getting a wing that big with equity on both ends should get a prospect back in the range of the top-30. He uses it well. Bridges is a “nose for the ball” type of player who doesn’t make consistent impact seem like a chore, regardless of whether he gets shots up or not.

Phoenix couldn’t do much better with a swing in the second round than Bridges. It is one wing player short and Bridges brings the size they need in that position group.

Jamal Shead, PG, Houston, 21 years old

Measurables – 6-foot, 6-foot-3 wingspan, 201 pounds

Stats – 12.9 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.3 APG, 0.5 BPG, 2.2 SPG, 2.0 TPG, 40.9 FG%, 30.9 3P%, 77.9 FT%

Big board rankingsESPN: 50, The Athletic: 40, The Ringer: 43

It’s time for your favorite NBA Draft game show! Say it with me! Will! This! Old! Great! College! Point! Guard! On! The! First! Round! Bubble! Be! Good! In! The! N! B! A!!!!!!

Shead rules, a shining one-player example for making a breakout program’s style of play identifiable. He established himself as one of the best players in college basketball across Houston’s rise and is maybe the one guy collegiate experts are betting on above all others. They simply believe he will succeed in the NBA, regardless of his weaknesses, and the confidence is justifiable.

The way Shead uses his dribble reminds me of T.J. McConnell. He’s active in a way where he is always threatening the defense. And he’s got some shake and zip to his handle too, unlike McConnell who dribbles like Bob Cousy (Love you, T.J.). The passing reads are awesome and there’s no doubt Shead could effectively break down NBA defenses right now as a playmaker. He’s a borderline bully with the ball when other guards try to get physical with him.

And again like McConnell, Shead is a menace defensively. He gets his hands everywhere and explodes out of nowhere. Houston battled with Iowa State for Big 12 supremacy all year and he balled out against them at home, showing all of what we covered.

This highlight is him to a T, when that matchup went to the road. He is a top-of-the-line defensive prospect as a point guard.

Shead is 6-foot and shot 30% from deep on 429 career tries so that’s really what is holding him back. And there’s still a chance someone reaches on him at the end of the first round because no one can help themselves when raving about the kid. The leadership is evident enough on the floor, and it’s a guarantee he won over several front offices during interviews at the NBA Combine.

For Suns fans slamming the desk for a “true point guard,” this is your champion. If there was any floor general in this class who could mesh instantly with large personalities by earning their respect as a rookie, Shead is the one.

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