Phoenix Suns 2016 NBA Draft: Top Needs

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The Phoenix Suns nightmare was finally over after 82 games. The Suns were one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA finishing with a record of 23-59, a 16-game dip from their record in 2014-15. At one point during this season the Suns lost 13 straight games. But that’s all in the past, as its time for Phoenix to focus on their next mission, the NBA draft.

Phoenix Suns 2016 NBA Draft: Top Needs

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough made some interesting moves this season and the seasons prior to net the Suns two extra first round picks. The first trade saw them taking Marcus Thornton and a first round pick (from Cleveland) from the Boston Celtics in exchange for point guard Isaiah Thomas. The second trade was made just prior to the trade deadline this season, where they bid farewell to disgruntled power forward Markieff Morris in exchange for DeJuan Blair, Kris Humphries, and a top nine protected pick from Washington.

If the final standings were to be followed the Suns would have the 4th, 13th, and 28th pick in the draft.

High Ceiling Prospect

Unfortunately for the Suns they didn’t finish the season with the worst record in the league. They have a higher chance of picking fourth or fifth instead of first. Most analysts have said that this draft is all about LSU’s Ben Simmons. While that may be true, it doesn’t mean that the Suns won’t find a prospect that might be a long term answer to their problems. Dragan Bender from Croatia could not only give Phoenix a prospect with a high ceiling, but also a young man who has shown interest in developing his game. Dragan is raw and may struggles in his first season in the NBA, but with his size and skill set it’s only a matter of time before he shows his true potential. Dragan can be a stretch four that can handle the ball and pass like a guard. The Suns are in dire need of a power forward for the future that can play alongside Alex Len.

Scoring off the Bench

Looking at Phoenix roster, the Suns are ready to compete amongst the up and coming teams in the west. They have a borderline all-star point guard in Eric Bledsoe; a superstar waiting to happen in Devin Booker; a scorer that showed improvement in his shooting with T.J. Warren; a center that proved to the world that he can compete in the NBA in Alex Len; and a pick that will surely be in the top five of this draft. The Suns do still face the question that aside from Brandon Knight, they lack a leader for the second unit.

The Suns have made great choices in the late lottery in the last two drafts. Drafting Warren 14th overall back in 2014 and drafting Devin Booker 13th overall in 2015. It would not be a surprise if McDonough makes another exceptional pick late in the lottery. One player that might help them is senior Brice Johnson out of North Carolina. He does not provide scoring off the bench but is a beast when it comes to crashing the boards and can provide much needed energy and athleticism off the bench. With the current power forwards of the Suns (Mirza Teletovic, Jon Leuer) they team is desperate for a rebounding big man, and that’s what Brice Johnson brings to the table. They won’t need another scorer if Knight accepts a sixth man role or if Booker comes off the bench. Johnson should provide valuable minutes for them if he falls to the 13th pick.

Trade Asset

The Suns last first round pick is going to be late in the round. Although it’s not impossible to find a star during this period of the draft, it’s certainly not easy. The Suns should find an intriguing prospect that might also be used as a trade asset down the road. One player that pops into mind is Thon Maker, a senior from high school that was cleared to enter the draft. He’s a 7 ft tall playea that has many skills of a guard. Maker won’t help a team right away but with his combination of length, frame, and skill set he will be a valuable asset in future trades. He will be on a cheap contract so it won’t hurt the Suns too much to develop him in the D-League.

Another option is trading the pick and a couple of players for a proven big man. What ever happens I don’t expect too much from this pick and it’ll most likely end up as a part of a trade.

Injuries prevented the Suns from making too much noise this season. But with a healthy season and a couple of great rookies Phoenix could be fighting Utah, Minnesota, and New Orleans for the final playoff spot in the west next year.

 

Main Photo: LOS ANGELES, USA – FEBRUARY 22: Devin Brooker (1) of Phoenix Suns and Jamal Crawford (11) of LA Clippers gestures during NBA basketball game between Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Sunsat Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, United States on February 22, 2016. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)