State of the Suns: Draft Picks

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phoenix Suns approach the 2016 NBA Trade deadline competing for a top spot in the NBA lottery. They’ve shown the talent recently to be a real contender for the top pick in this upcoming draft.

I recently wrote about the Suns’ long term plan here. If you want those 400 words summed up in 3, here it is: they have none (in my unbiased opinion, it’s worth a read though).

Inconsistent decision making has created a group of players that just don’t seem to fit. Even with the off-season, this still feels like a team forced to play together.

Phoenix Suns management would blame that on the coach (obviously. Sorry Jeff). I blame that on the management. The current roster does not make sense in today’s NBA. I’m not sure if it ever would have made sense.

The roster, the trades, the management – these are all topic for another day. Today, I am going to start to lay out the Suns plan, focusing on our draft picks.

“You can’t plan for tomorrow, without understanding today”. This quote, which I just made up right now, is in my opinion the key to a franchise identifying a championship window. Once you understand your championship window, you build a plan to have your roster peak during those years.

With the Suns, it is hard to even identify a championship window at this point. Therefore, we’re going to step back, and understand today.

“I blame that on the management” – Every Suns Fan

State of the Suns will look into several categories: draft picks, cap situation, talent level, coaching and management, fan base/history, and any other worthy categories suggested by our readers in the comments below.

This will be a look at the Suns’ draft picks. Note that this is future facing.

Let’s not dwell on what could have been. I can, and will write more about that. I could stay up all night, drink half a bottle of Jack, and write 2,000 words on the Suns recent draft pick trades. Nobody needs that pain right now.

Facing forward, the Suns draft situation is actually quite good.

Strength #1:

We have all of our future draft picks. The value of this can’t be understated – especially for a rebuilding team. Ask the Brooklyn Nets.

If you’re going to be bad, you need to at least keep you picks. Nothing worse than sitting through a 20-win season, only to watch the Boston Celtics take your top 2 pick. Then watching Boston take your top 5 pick the next season. And the next season. The Brooklyn Nets effectively gave up 3 unprotected 1st round draft picks, in a row.

Will Boston get 3 straight top 5 picks from Brooklyn? Maybe not. But the option for that to happen is very real. That is what a real GM does. Boston took two aging players, and created incredible long term growth.

Boston had both a realistic picture of their teams’ championship window (closed, and ready for a rebuild), and a realistic picture of Brooklyn’s championship window (closing, at best). Boston saw the contracts in Brooklyn better than Brooklyn did. Stay away from Boston this deadline, Phoenix. Please.

Back on point. Phoenix has a perfect score on their own draft picks. Good start.

(See the end of the article for a note on protected picks, if needed.)

Additional Future 1st Round Picks:

  1. 2016 Cleveland Cavs.
    1. 1st-10th pick protected in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Unprotected in 2019.
    2. This pick will go to the Phoenix Suns this season. Projected around 27th this year.
    3. This is a hail mary. Maybe you get Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, or Tony Parker. I won’t hold my breath here. Grade: C-
  2. 2018 Miami Heat.
    1. This is a weird pick. First, there is a clause related to the 2016 1st that Miami owes to Philadelphia. The 2018 pick is owed to Phoenix as long as Miami trades their 1st round pick to Philadelphia in 2016. Miami’s 2016 1st round pick is contingent on Miami finishing outside of the bottom 10 this year. Miami has the 9th  best record this season. They’re trading that pick to Philadelphia.
    2. The 2018 first is protected 1-7 in 2018, then unprotected in 2019. It is hard to imagine a Pat Riley led team finishing in the bottom 7 two consecutive seasons. However, by 2018, Bosh, Wade, and Reily will all be even older. Who knows what the Heat will look like.
    3. Pretty good upside here. Reasonable to imagine this being top 15 or better. Grade: B
  3. 2021 Miami Heat
    1. No protections on this pick at all. Very rare.
    2. Phoenix will get this pick in 2021.
    3. I like this pick. I also hope Phoenix does not actually make this pick. We should be trading this piece a couple years from now when we enter our Championship Window. The unprotected nature of this pick makes it a strong trade piece. Grade: B+

Additional Future 2nd Round Picks

  1. 2020 Detroit Pistons
    1. Nothing exciting here. Grade: D

Great draft info gathered from – great page right here.

Let’s get down to the overall score. In theory, the average team would have all of its picks, and not own any additional picks. Let’s call this a grade of a C.

While I like the additional picks the Phoenix Suns own, the first pick of real value is 2018 at the earliest. The real strength lies in our own picks.

If Phoenix is terrible the next few seasons, we just might find a superstar. That’s valuable. Our plan must involve keeping these picks, and not chasing the playoffs for at least 3 years – unless we get someone like Simmons, who then becomes a superstar and changes the plan completely.

Draft Picks Overall Grade: B-

Protected picks explained:

A protected pick is a team’s method to avoid real risk on a traded pick.

More from Suns News

The Phoenix Suns traded for Cleveland’s 2016 first round pick, protected for picks 1-10 in 2016. The pick will only transfer to Phoenix if the pick falls from 11-30. If it is from 1-10, it is deferred to the next season.

Sound messed up? Think that encourages tanking? You’re right. Interesting article here.

Let me know what you think, Suns fans. I’ll review another aspect of the Suns franchise health tomorrow.

Related Story: Suns Need a Plan