EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Biggest need vs. best value: ESPN NBA mock draft picks Suns’ options

Jun 11, 2024, 12:38 PM

Miami forward Kyshawn George...

Kyshawn George #7 of the Miami Hurricanes dribbles the ball against Ahmed Essahaty #21 of the Long Island Sharks during the second half of the game at Watsco Center on December 06, 2023 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Creating a framing to understand the talent of the 2024 NBA Draft class, especially at a specific slot like the Phoenix Suns’ 22nd overall pick, begins with learning what talent is viewed as good value at that pick.

It’s viewing things through a different lens to take a realistic peek at what player best fits a team.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo each created a mock draft — posed next to one another — to better understand those two pieces together. That is, after all, the balancing act of what the Suns front office will be dealing with.

Givony landed at Marquette point guard Tyler Kolek as the player who would fill Phoenix’s biggest need, while Woo lined up Miami wing Kyshawn George as a player with the most value at 22nd.

Givony: The Suns didn’t have a legit point guard last season, a decision that seemed to backfire as they were swept in the first round of the playoffs. Kolek, 23, is more battle-tested than most draft prospects, bringing elite toughness, feel for the game and playmaking acumen operating out of pick-and-rolls. Kolek, ranked No. 26 in ESPN’s Top 100, has shown he can play off the ball as well, making 39% of his 3-pointers the past two seasons, which is important considering the high-usage star power already on the roster in Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

Kolek averaged 15.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season, his fourth in college after a single year at George Mason led to three with the Golden Eagles.

He shot 49.6% from the field and 85% from the foul line, a sign of a shooting stroke that will translate to the NBA level. He also added 1.6 steals per game.

For a 6-foot-1 guard, he shot a surprising 48% of his attempts at the rim, according to Hoop-Math.com. Only 22% were assisted, a sign he has a little more off-the-bounce shake than he gets credit for. That would seemingly bode well for any ability to drive and kick on a team like the Suns.

At his ceiling, he is a starting point guard. At his floor, Kolek is a sturdy backup without any glaring holes. Because Kolek is considered one of the most competitive players in the class, you would have to guess his trajectory is pointed more toward the former than the latter.

George falls on the other end of the spectrum of prospects.

A late-blooming forward, the Swiss native measured 6-foot-7 and 208 pounds with a 6-foot-10.25 wingspan at the draft combine.

He started 16 of 31 games for Miami as a freshman and averaged 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

George’s foul and turnover rates were a bit high, and he shot just 42.6% from the field as he took more than half of his shots from beyond the arc, where he hit 40.8%.

Woo: George has many of the fundamental elements you want in a perimeter player — he is a good passer and shooter with excellent size for a guard — but he is going to have to successfully adjust to the speed and physicality of the NBA, which will take some time. There are safer bets on the board in the top 20, but after a certain point, I love the idea of what George can become.

It’s George’s switchability and length that projects to translate well if his decision-making and on-ball abilities improve.

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