The NBA Lottery is the light at the end of a long season for the Phoenix Suns.
It’s almost over.
The seemingly never ending losing streak that has been the 2015-2016 season will come to an end for the Phoenix Suns in just one week from today, April 13th. If the Suns continue to hold onto the third spot in the lottery, their consolation prize for being so terrible would be a 46.9 percent chance to land a top three pick in the NBA draft this June.
The Suns would also have a 69.2 percent chance at a top four pick, and a 96 percent chance at a top five pick. The worst possible pick the Suns will have is sixth, if they hold off the Brooklyn Nets for the third spot in the NBA Lottery.
Uncertainty about where the Suns will be in the draft makes it difficult to predict who will still be available. We’ll throw in a bunch of names, rank them, and break it down.
#2 choice for the Suns, Ben Simmons, PF, LSU
Even though I have him at number two for the Suns, lets address Simmons first. He has been number one on nearly everyone’s 2016 draft board basically since he finished his junior year of high school. As a phenomenal athlete with a large build, Simmons has been compared to LeBron James. Simmons line of 19.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.0 SPG and 4.8 APG backs that up, proving he’s a well-rounded player on both ends of the floor.
His year at LSU likely hurt his draft stock in some GM’s eyes. LSU did not even come close to making the NCAA tournament, and Simmons seemed too passive at times. Simmons will be a good player, but there is no guarantee he will be the NBA superstar people expect the number one pick to be.
The power forward position is a glaring need on the Suns’ roster, but unless the Suns grab the number one pick they won’t get him. However, with so many other power forwards in the draft, grabbing a small forward with their top pick could be better for the Suns overall.
#1 choice for the Suns, Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke
Let’s keep comparing these guys to NBA players. Brandon Ingram is a young Kevin Durant. He is listed at the same height as Durant, 6’9″. Ingram has excellent size to go along with his range and scoring ability. The Suns need a swing-man, and while P.J. Tucker has a few Dan Majerle hustle awards, and T.J. Warren still has potential as a scorer, neither have the outside touch of Ingram.
Much like Devin Booker, Ingram can create his own shot, something the Suns need more of. Those two would be a youthful, torching combo at the two and three. If the biggest knock on Ingram is that he is skinny, well, being skinny has worked out for Durant.
#3 choice for the Suns, Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia
It’s unclear which is better, Bender’s name, or his versatility. The Maccabi Tel Aviv power forward has the option to leave his team in Israel and play in the NBA, but the uncertainty comes from the lack of minutes Bender has played professionally (8.6 MPG). Bender can stretch the floor, and like many players we see come from across the pond, his fundamentals are on point.
Bender does not lack athletic ability like some seven footers do either. He can fly down the floor like a wing, while boasting a handle and good off-ball instincts. He has developed his skills playing against older players since becoming a professional basketball player at age 15 in Croatia. In case you have not seen him play, here is one of a few Bender highlight reels on YouTube.
If only the Suns had kept Goran Dragic, they could have two dragons on the team.
#4 choice for the Suns, trade down, target Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
The Suns should strongly consider trading down if they fall out of the top 3 and can not grab either of the first three mentioned. This year’s draft lacks the top-tier talent last year’s had, and the Suns shouldn’t reach for a player. As mentioned before, the Suns could use some depth at the point guard position. With Brandon Knight, Booker and Archie Goodwin lined up at shooting guard, and the injury issues Knight and Eric Bledsoe have faced, a point guard could be a nice pickup this summer.
Point guards Tyler Ulis (why not add another former Kentucky Wildcat to the roster?) or Wade Baldwin could be steals later in the first round that they can likely trade down and still grab. This is not a draft where the Suns first pick should be a guard.
If they are able to trade down, grab some assets, and still end up with Kris Dunn, the Suns front office has done a good job. Dunn is a well-rounded guard with a 16.2 PPG, 6.4 APG 2.5 SPG and 5.3 RPG clip this past season, however he does have his fair share of shoulder injuries.
Keep up with Valley of the Suns as we head into the Phoenix Suns’ offseason.