The Phoenix Suns’ hopes of a great 2019 NBA Draft night took a turn for the worst on the night of the Draft Lottery. By the time every team’s card had been displayed, the Suns’ team officials and fans from were left a cold dish of Zion Williamson-less despair. The troubled franchise’s bottom-three regular season record gave them the best available odds of nabbing the number one overall pick (14 percent) and a 52 percent chance to stay in the top four. Seeing Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum pull out their team’s card three spots lower, at the number six slot, with a big grin had to feel like a slap in the face.
Phoenix Suns 2019 NBA Draft Targets
The Suns now sport the sixth and thirty second picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. Whoever they ultimately take will depend on who is taken before they are on the clock. Despite the uncertainty, here are a few prospects that the Suns need to consider.
Pick Number 6
Darius Garland – Vanderbilt Commodores
The Phoenix Suns need a worthy point guard to pair with Devin Booker. Darius Garland isn’t a pass-first point guard (2.8 assists per game), but he has great vision when he chooses to facilitate. Garland’s key strength is his shooting, as he is shooting at 47.8 percent from three. Having a backcourt with knockdown shooters in today’s guard-friendly league is a proven pathway to contention, as evidenced by the Golden State Warriors
Garland is crafty in pick and roll situations, as he is able to spot out little openings to thread the needle to rolling teammates. The combination of his vision and jumper keeps defenders off balance as they choose whether to trail him after the screen or go under, hoping for a miss. He would form a solid pick and roll tandem with a multi-threat big such as DeAndre Ayton.
Garland naturally possesses defensive limitations thanks to his 6’3″, 175-pound wiry frame. It’s a common problem that thinner guards, such as Stephen Curry and Trae Young, have dealt with, but if Darius reaches a level of competence at that end, his explosive offense could warrant him staying on the floor. If the Los Angeles Lakers pass on Garland with the number four pick, he’d be a prime fit for Phoenix.
Coby White – North Carolina Tar Heels
Coby White is their next-best option at point guard. He averaged 16.1 points per game while leading his team to the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. He’s a reliable ball-handler, free throw shooter (80 percent), and overall scorer from almost any spot on the floor.
His shoot-first game is similar to that of Darius Garland, but his 6’5″ body would fare better defensively. White’s own combination of speed and size would make him a handful to defend if his game keeps progressing. Coby averaged more assists than Garland in college (4.1 per game), but his passing vision isn’t as advanced. If the Suns are dead-set on taking a point guard through the draft, White is their next best option. He may be better in the long run if he commits to fine-tuning his offensive game (low shot release) while putting on muscle to keep up with NBA-level defensive schemes.
Pick Number 32
Grant Wiliams – Tennessee Volunteers
The second round of the draft is a great time to take a chance on a player’s upside. Grant Williams is a 6’7″, 240 lb. power forward who has incredible strength for a guy his size. Players who are a little bit smaller can hold their own defensively if they have that extra bit of muscle. You only need to look as far as guys like Chuck Hayes and Draymond Green. Even a 6’5″ shooting guard like Josh Hart can be great defensively on big men in the post thanks to his excellent leg strength.
Grant can get down and bang with defenders in the paint and punish them with a repertoire of bulky post moves. He can also stretch the floor with this three-point shot (32.6 percent last year) and nail free throws at a dependable rate (81.9 percent). His physical style of play down low is conducive to drawing fouls (7 FTA per game), which is a more valuable attribute to have by the day.
Last year, Phoenix had Dragan Bender and Richaun Holmes at power forward. Holmes is an unrestricted free agent, while Bender’s team option was declined at the start of the season. Dragan failed to live up to the expectations of being a number four pick. Any lingering optimism regarding the Croatian is wearing dangerously thin. Bender is only 20, so there’s still a chance he could succeed with a change of scenery. If the Suns are lucky enough to catch Williams with the thirty-second pick, he could be the first step toward a brighter power forward future.
Daniel Gafford – Arkansas Razorbacks
Daniel Gafford is an incredibly mobile big man with imposing measurements. The lanky, former Razorback moves like a gazelle and stands at 6’11” with a 7’2″ wingspan. Rim-running big men are flourishing in this modern era, so pairing Gafford with another fleet-footed big in Ayton would make for some tough coverages. Gafford is also a beast at collecting rebounds and put-backs, but can still hold his own with his post scoring.
Gafford would fulfill his potential by playing next to a savvy facilitator. A combination of Booker’s facilitation with that of Garland or White could lead to a guy like Gafford feasting heavily on unsuspecting rims. If he adds a reliable jump shot, he could maintain a long career in this league.
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