BURNS AND GAMBO

The Gambo 5: Predicting the Phoenix Suns’ 2024 NBA Draft pick

Jun 25, 2024, 4:30 PM

Virginia wing Ryan Dunn...

Isaiah Stevens #4 of the Colorado State Rams defends against Ryan Dunn #13 of the Virginia Cavaliers during the first half in the First Four game during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at University of Dayton Arena on March 19, 2024 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

I wasn’t sure I was going to do this again. There is always a lot of pressure when you pick five guys and tell the world the Suns’ pick will be one of these five.

But we’ve had a lot of success with it in the past for the NBA and NFL. And if anything, it is a lot of fun.

I do my best on these but don’t go losing your milk money gambling on this stuff. It is just my best guestimate based on the information I have. Now, if there is a trade — and the Suns certainly are open to trading and have had discussions with Utah about swapping No. 22 for No. 29 and No. 32 — then all bets are off.

I do believe the Suns would like to turn that No. 22 pick into two picks, if possible. And it makes a lot of sense based on their needs. And those needs are a center, point guard and wing player. So we can rule out any shooting guards — they have enough of those already. In doing The Gambo Five, I had to toe the line in the players I believe Phoenix likes and the five that I am going to give you. Some players I know they like probably won’t be there when No. 22 rolls around.

Two come to mind. I do think the Suns would run to the podium if Duke freshman guard Jared McCain is on the board, but I just don’t see him making it to 22. And same with Colorado forward Tristan da Silva.

I would love to have him in my five, but I can’t see him lasting until 22. As I write this, I am debating whether to put him in there and eliminate my fifth guy — just to play the odds.

I did eliminate some players that many mocks have going to the Suns like Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, Dayton’s DaRon Holmes, USC’s Isaiah Collier and UCLA’s Adem Bona. Eliminating guys helps me narrow it down, so I almost always start by taking guys off my board. So what am I left with?

Five players who I believe will be under consideration for the Suns if they stay at pick No. 22:

The Gambo 5: Predicting who the Suns select in the 2024 NBA Draft

Ryan Dunn, Virginia wing

Tyler Kolek, Marquette point guard

Yves Missi, Baylor center

Kel’el Ware, Indiana center

And my final pick came down to  G League Ignite forward Tyler Smith or Colorado wing Tristan da Silva. I’m going to play the odds here a bit.

I do believe that the Suns like a few of the players I have in my top four ahead of Smith, so I will take a shot at a player falling to them rather than the players I have already mentioned all being gone.

So the pick here is da Silva, as I just believe he has a better chance of falling to 22 than, say, McCain.

Chances are pretty good da Silva is gone at this point, but I want at least one player I did not expect to be there at 22. The four-year Buffaloes player who was born in Germany seems like a perfect pick for Suns president of basketball operations and general manager James Jones.


The skinny on The Gambo 5

By Kevin Zimmerman

Ryan Dunn, Virginia wing

Stats: 8.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

Regarded as the best college wing defender in the draft, Dunn’s stock is limited coming out after two college seasons because he’s limited on offense as a 20% three-point shooter who primarily scores via slashing, rim-rolling and running in transition.

Tyler Kolek, Marquette point guard

Stats: 15.3 points, 7.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 49.6 FG%, 38.8 3FG%

Kolek is the most-mocked player to the Suns by far, and a lot of it has to do with need. Phoenix could use a traditional point guard, and Kolek fits the bill as a pace-driven floor general who gets T.J. McConnell comparisons. While he’s also limited defensively, Kolek’s reputation as a competitive, savvy defender will help him make up for physical limitations at 6-foot-1 and 196 pounds.

Yves Missi, Baylor center

Stats: 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocks in 23.0 minutes per game

As a true freshman for the Bears, the 6-foot-11, 229-pound big man flashed in a limited role for a talented team. He could help immediately as a rim-roller and shot blocker, just as Dereck Lively II did for the Dallas Mavericks in his rookie season.

Kel’el Ware, Indiana center

Stats: 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.5 assists per game

A tantalizing draft prospect who flashed touch from beyond the three-point line as well as elite rim-rolling ability, Ware’s inconsistent play on the defensive end raises questions about his ceiling. If he can overcome them, the talent to become something unique is there. He measured at 6-foot-11.75 without shoes and 230 pounds with a 7-foot-4.5 wingspan.

Tristan da Silva, Colorado wing

Stats: 16.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 49.3 FG%, 39.5 3FG%

While da Silva doesn’t bring much flash, he’s a ball-moving connector at wing who in a secondary scoring role with the Buffaloes projects to translate his shot to the pros.

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The Gambo 5: Predicting the Phoenix Suns’ 2024 NBA Draft pick