EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

22 for 22: Tristan da Silva is ideal ‘NBA-ready’ wing for Suns in NBA Draft

Jun 11, 2024, 6:24 PM | Updated: Jun 12, 2024, 7:52 am

If we’re mapping out the perfect offseason for the Phoenix Suns, it includes them selecting a wing in the NBA Draft that can be a solid rotation piece right away.

As previously covered in 22 for 22, seasoned collegiate wings are around in the back-half of the first round and have a high hit rate, so perhaps Phoenix at No. 22 can find that guy.

There is one prospect that stands out above the rest in this regard and that is Colorado’s Tristan da Silva.

To start, there is a decent chance da Silva isn’t even on the board at 22nd overall. Because of the skill set we are about to review, NBA teams that are loaded up with skill players already and/or will be contending next year will value him higher. In the teens alone there are the Oklahoma City Thunder (12th), Sacramento Kings (13th), Miami Heat (15th), Philadelphia 76ers (16th), Los Angeles Lakers (17th) and the Orlando Magic (18th) in play.

A low-key draft-night storyline to monitor is where Providence guard Devin Carter goes, another great plug-and-play candidate that has had a rising stock the last couple of months. Good teams will be in love with him and if he can fall a bit to outside the top-10, the organization that selects him possibly would have picked da Silva next if Carter is off the board.

Da Silva will have everyone’s attention because of the shooter he is at his size. The 23-year-old attempted 374 3-pointers after his freshman year for the Buffaloes and made 39% of those. At 6-foot-8, he has one of the better set shots in this class. The consistency you want to see with mechanics that don’t inspire trepidation for the adjustments to the NBA line is there.

It would have been nice to see da Silva with a more high-volume type of freedom plus an increase on movement shooting but Colorado was good, as was he in other roles beyond floor spacer. Regardless, a rate of 4.8 a night as a senior was still more than enough to solidify his standing as a shooter.

With that, nearly just as important to da Silva’s outlook is his playmaking. He is somewhere between much more than a good 0.5 guy with quick decisions and less than someone who could take on a supplementary ball-handling role right now. While Colorado capitalized on his catch-and-shoot prowess, some of what you’ll see is da Silva making a lot of these passes beyond the means of just attacking closeouts.

The Buffaloes loved using da Silva in a high-post, zone-buster type of spot on the floor to take advantage of the passing lanes he could find there and also his sneaky good touch. Da Silva shot a stellar 50.4% on 115 two-point jumpers this year, per Hoop-Math. 43.1% were assisted, speaking to the type of shots they were, not necessarily full self-creation.

If the shot goes down and he makes smart plays, da Silva will have a long NBA career no matter what. But what will sink or swim his ability into becoming one of the better NBA wings out there is his defense.

It’s pretty solid! But he’s also teetering close to the edge of not quite being an impactful on-ball defender and instead relying on rotation coverages as a team defender. We’re not calling him a stopper. He’s not big enough to defend smaller 5s, nor quick enough to contain slower 1s. He lands in a sweet spot of a multi-positional defender at solely the wing, where he’s more of a match for larger ones with power games than some of the speedier ones out there.

What we’re getting at here is in a playoff series when mismatch hunting occurs, it would not be surprising to see him be the guy the other No. 1 option wants to go at. If he is that guy, it becomes tough for him to stick on the floor.

A slight red flag was da Silva’s lack of statistical production beyond scoring and passing despite how big of a dude he is. Five rebounds a night isn’t great. Ditto for just 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. That’s some nose for the ball stuff prospects with his rough outline usually thrive at and it does not appear to be his thing.

It is getting a bit nit-picky when looking at the weaknesses, however, because da Silva is a fairly safe prospect to draft. Whether he is a starter on the wing or the second one off the bench for a good team, the projection of a role is as clear as any prospect in this class.

The Suns drafting him would be adding 1) a playable wing, 2) a wing with size, 3) another shooter, 4) another defender with positional versatility, 5) another connecting passer and 6) a young player with upside. There is not a realistic move they could make this offseason that would do more for them than selecting da Silva.

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22 for 22: Tristan da Silva is ideal ‘NBA-ready’ wing for Suns in NBA Draft