Worst-case scenarios for Phoenix Suns and their two lottery picks in NBA Draft
The overwhelming consensus for the Phoenix Suns is they need to draft a forward.
In a poll on this very website, 61 percent of fans selected either power forward or small forward as a position the Suns should target in the NBA Draft.
Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic are heading into unrestricted free agency, leaving no one currently on the roster at power forward. P.J. Tucker has a non-guaranteed deal for the 2016-17 season and is 31-years-old and T.J. Warren hasn’t shown many dimensions to his game besides being a scorer and rebounder.
That takes us to the 2016 NBA Draft, where the Suns are selecting fourth and 13th in the lottery (as well as two more picks later on in the night).
The most interesting dynamic about this draft class with regards to Phoenix is the amount of forwards that could be available when they pick. The trouble is, the picks ahead of them could unfold without giving them an ideal selection at both No. 4 and No. 13. There are some very good fits for the Suns’ roster needs that also grade well in terms of value at their selections, but will those players be there when they pick?
With those needs in mind and a look at big boards across the web, here’s what Suns fans should consider the worst scenarios on June 23.
Pick No. 4
Picks 1-3: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Dragan Bender
Simmons and Ingram are the two best prospects in this class by a considerable amount, so the chances of them falling to No. 4 are slim to none.
The real discussion is what the Boston Celtics do with the No. 3 overall pick.
Does Boston — who won 48 games last season — draft a player who helps them now, try to hit a home run or trade the pick?
Evan Turner is an unrestricted free agent and in theory, that opens up a spot for top players available like guards Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield.
Hield, in particular, looks like the best fit for a player to come in and play right away. The senior out of Oklahoma averaged 25 points and six rebounds per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 46 percent from three.
What does that leave the Suns with? Not a lot.
Most experts have some variation of Murray, Hield, Kris Dunn and Jaylen Brown ranked after Bender.
The Suns miss out on a great power forward for the future in Bender and as they knew on lottery night, missed out on the best talents in Simmons and Ingram.
Some believe the “best player available” strategy has them selecting a guard, and general manager Ryan McDonough has said that’s what the plan is for the team. There’s not much room for a guard, however, with Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Brandon Knight, Archie Goodwin and possibly Bogdan Bogdanovic on the roster.
Brown is the best forward available, but an underwhelming season at Cal by NBA scouts’ standards has him slipping down draft boards as far as tenth.
Phoenix would have a tough decision at No. 4 if Simmons, Ingram and Bender are off the board.
Pick No. 13
Picks 1-12: Simmons, Ingram, Bender, Brown, Dunn, Hield, Murray, Skal Labissiere, Deyonta Davis, Marquese Chriss, Henry Ellenson, Timothe Luwawu
This is brutal.
The three power forwards who are a near-lock for the lottery are the high upside Davis and Chriss and the smooth stretch four Ellenson.
Labissiere isn’t a tremendous fit since Tyson Chandler and Alex Len limit his flexibility from power forward to center, but his talent and upside is unquestionable and would have been a fascinating project as a long and big stretch four.
Luwawu’s two-way all-around potential is mouthwatering and could give the Suns something completely different on the wing at either position.
The best available prospect is center Jakob Poeltl, but could the Suns take him, even in a BPA scenario?
That leaves guards and forwards who don’t fit particularly well.
Tyler Ulis, Demetrius Jackson and Wade Baldwin all have their strengths and weaknesses, but the Suns would be taking a backup in a spot where they could pick someone with a much more valuable role. It’s worth noting that Jackson has worked out with the Suns.
Denzel Valentine has an appealing offensive game, but he’s undersized and another player weak on defense is the last thing the Suns need with Booker, Knight and Warren already in the fold.
Domantas Sabonis is a super-skilled power forward with the IQ and passing touch of his father, Arvydas. His defense and athleticism, however, will not translate well to the NBA and would give the Suns another weak defender.
Furkan Korkmaz can play either guard spot and looks great in the pick-and-roll. The problem is the Suns already have a guard overseas in Bogdanovic. Korkmaz being only 18, however, and the fact that he probably stays overseas for a season or two, makes him somewhat of a fit.
Taurean Prince could very well be a 3-and-D player quickly and that arguably makes him the best option at No. 13. His limited upside, if he could play with Warren, and the role the Suns see Tucker playing next season are factors that impact how good the fit truly is. He also worked out in Phoenix.
Perhaps the Suns reach for Cheick Diallo or Zhou Qi, two big men with tremendous upside?
Regardless, it’s a difficult choice with far better fits already off the board.