ESPN’s Penn: Suns have assets to ensure they get their guy in 2016 NBA Draft
The Suns aren’t going to bring four rookies into opening night.
Armed with three first-round picks and an early second-rounder in the 2016 NBA Draft, Phoenix could stash players overseas or in the D-League.
They could parlay one or more of their picks — fourth, 13th, 28th and 34th overall — into a selection in a later draft, or use the selections in a deal for a current NBA player.
Those are all options, but ESPN Insider’s Tom Penn also told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Off The Edge with B-Train that owning so many picks gives general manager Ryan McDonough the ability to maneuver throughout the draft order.
“I think with all those assets, when you’re talking four, 13 and 28, I think you need to — absolutely, no matter what — get one stud for sure,” Penn said. “Could they move from four to two? Can they move from four to three to get the guy they want? Do they even need to move? Can they pick three players the way Golden State did years ago and can they hit it big on 28 the way Golden State did with Draymond Green in the 30s?”
Penn is referencing the Warriors’ haul in 2012, when they nabbed forward Harrison Barnes seventh, center Festus Ezeli 30th and forward Draymond Green 35th overall (that doesn’t include Ognjen Kuzmic, the 52nd overall selection who is vying for an NBA return with the Knicks’ summer squad).
Green turned into the glue to Golden State’s 2015 title and historic 2015-16 run that on Sunday fell short of a second NBA title. But Barnes, who could be pushing for a max contract, and Ezeli, a backup big, also played a key role in the Warriors’ recent success.
As for the Suns, moving up or down the draft board depends on who they view as the next Green.
“Their basketball ops folks need to turn those assets into some version of gold,” Penn said.
Will they need to move at all? Dragan Bender, for example, might last until the No. 4 choice. If the Suns instead favor Marquese Chriss, perhaps it would help them to move up one spot, where Boston sits at third.
There’s also still a chance — however unlikely — one of the expected top-two picks, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, falls to third.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, the Lakers have considered Chriss, among others, at the No. 2 spot. But Los Angeles could also shop last year’s first-round selection, D’Angelo Russell, to acquire a second top-5 choice, Ford surmised. If true, that would be another option for Phoenix to consider.
They are probably short of being able to trade into the first overall pick, but the Suns have the assets to ensure they get their favorite player in the lottery or later on.
The key, however, is McDonough putting together the puzzle pieces of what other teams are aiming to accomplish.
“They haven’t really got that lucky in the lottery and then they haven’t found that seminal player …” Penn said of the Suns. “That’s not necessarily their fault instead of circumstance and talent that is there. But there are seven great players in every draft, you’ve just got to find them, and then you’ve got to maneuver like crazy to get one of the players you really want. They’re in position to do that given the multiple assets they have.”