EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

22 for 22: Juan Nunez is 2024 NBA Draft’s premium passer at PG

Jun 22, 2024, 8:35 AM

Juan Nunez of Ratiopharm Ulm 
 challenges TJ Shorts II of Telekom Baskets Bonn during the easyCredi...

Juan Nunez of Ratiopharm Ulm challenges TJ Shorts II of Telekom Baskets Bonn during the easyCredit Basketball Bundesliga play-off final fourth match between Ratiopharm Ulm and Telekom Baskets Bonn at ratiopharm Arena on June 16, 2023 in Ulm, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

Oh, you want a point guard, huh? Yeah, I’m talking to you, person who has been up a wall about this since Cam Payne was salary dumped to the San Antonio Spurs 11 months ago.

Your response is likely echoing Hannibal Buress, asking why we are booing you if you are right. Because in many ways, you have been all along.

Well, the No. 1 boost a point guard would provide the Suns roster is triggering their ball movement. We all saw it last year. When the opposing defense was forced into rotation and the Suns kept it moving, the prophecy was getting fulfilled. There was just a complete absence of flow and rhythm to make that consistent, hence the offense not being nearly as good as it should have been.

A floor general to orchestrate that would also help. So if we are looking at just those two areas alone in the 2024 NBA Draft, there’s an argument Spain’s Juan Nunez is the guy. He is certifiably outside the first round on just about every board, commonly found in the 40s. But the 20-year-old is up there with anyone when focusing solely on playmaking.

He is probably the best pure passer in the draft. Look at all the different ways he’s kicking it to the weak-side corner.

The size at 6-foot-5 allows him to find the proper angles and the cadence in pick-and-roll of knowing when to explode is really good for his experience level.

Nunez across three different competitions for German side Ratiopharm Ulm this season averaged 9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 47% from the field. The numbers from 3-point range (31.9%) and the free-throw line (60.7%) were not great.

Despite how aggressive he is when attacking defenses as a playmaker, he cannot find that mindset as a scorer. Overpassing is an issue.

And that’s where we get to the fun stopping. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie starts a paragraph on Nunez’s weaknesses in the following four ways.

“Nunez is not an explosive athlete.”

“How will Nunez go about scoring in the NBA?”

“Nunez has almost no midrange game to use as a counter.”

“I am worried about his on-ball defense.”

That is how you get a lead guard who is young with size doing lead guard stuff very well for his age definitively in the second round.

Nunez was worth bringing up because of what he does well and what the Suns need. If he had more of a chance to succeed defensively or more pop within his offensive game, he’d be the top point guard option at No. 22. But ultimately there are too many red flags in the way of Nunez earning much consideration.

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22 for 22: Juan Nunez is 2024 NBA Draft’s premium passer at PG