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Three keys for the Phoenix Suns in Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery

The NBA Draft Lottery is arguably the biggest event of the season for some teams in the NBA. An 82-game season filled with losing and a lack of any hope for the playoffs leads to the 30-minute special before the Conference Finals where their future as a franchise could be severely altered.

In 1990, that happened to the Seattle Supersonics. Seattle moved up from 10th to second on lottery night and point guards went in both of those spots on draft night. The Supersonics’ selection was the No. 2 overall pick and future Hall of Famer Gary Payton, and the player picked in their old spot at No. 10 overall was Rumeal Robinson, who averaged 7.6 points per game in his NBA career.

The Suns enter Tuesday with the fourth-best odds for the No. 1 overall pick at 11.9 percent, and a 37.8 percent chance to be in the top three.

Rebuilding in the NBA can sometimes come down to the luck of the lottery balls in May, and that’s something the Suns could really use on Tuesday. Here are three things to watch as the order is determined.

The top two

A drop-off and talent disparity is always present in certain sections of every draft. In the 2016 NBA Draft, the heavy consensus is that it comes after the first two picks.

LSU power forward Ben Simmons and Duke small forward Brandon Ingram are the crown jewels of this draft class.

After those two are off the board, there is a drop in terms of both talent and upside. The Suns are even more impacted by this drop because of their need for forwards, and the difference between a player like Simmons or Ingram and either California small forward Jaylen Brown or Croatian power forward Dragan Bender is substantial.

Simply put: Suns fans should party in the streets if the team moves up to either first or second.

Which teams are ahead of Phoenix?

If Phoenix moves up or down, the key for them — especially with this draft class — is going to be which teams pick ahead of them.

Best player available isn’t the worst draft strategy to have, but when you’re a team like the Suns with large commitments to certain areas of the floor, selecting a forward would go a long way.

The Suns have serious long-term money going to Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler, and promising young pieces in Devin Booker and Alex Len. While T.J. Warren is still only 22-years-old, the bulk of the roster being where it’s at should prevent the Suns from selecting a guard or center with a top-six selection.

That position the Suns are in should favor any scenario in which a team picking ahead of them has a need at center or guard.

After Simmons and Ingram, Bender and Brown are being linked to the three-to-seven range of the draft. Providence point guard Kris Dunn, Kentucky guard Jamal Murray and Oklahoma shooting guard Buddy Hield are in the conversation around that portion of the draft as well.

The Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz all have rosters that point toward a selection of Dunn, Murray or Hield before Bender and Brown. On the other end of the spectrum, the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets would benefit more from the selection of a forward like Bender or Brown.

A possible partner to trade up?

Despite the recent trades and signings, the Suns still have a very solid amount of assets to throw around in a trade.

If the No. 1 or 2 pick lands with a team that could use more than just one young player, the Suns should be the first team on the phone.

They are projected to own three first-round picks in this draft, two valuable picks in the future from the Miami Heat, and have another logjam at guard after Brandon Knight was adamant about his role not changing in the future, even after the breakout rookie season Booker had.

On paper, the Jazz, Celtics, and Timberwolves are some of the teams that don’t need to add multiple basketball assets for one draft pick, but a team like the Los Angeles Lakers or Pelicans could absolutely use a current player or two and multiple draft picks to jump start their rebuild.

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