For the Phoenix Suns, the Future is Here

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 5: Devin Booker
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 5: Devin Booker /

Although the Phoenix Suns hold the most ping-pong balls in the lottery, most Suns fans are somewhat pessimistic about their chances to land the top overall pick. Regardless of what happens in the lottery, playoff basketball will be back in the Valley next season.

I have been a Suns fan for almost 29 years. For the first 21, Phoenix missed the playoffs a grand total of three times. Postseason basketball wasn’t a privilege for Arizona fans, it was an expectation. Sadly, those days are almost a decade in the rear mirror. Suns fans hope to return to those times by landing in the top spot of the NBA draft and selecting either DeAndre Ayton or Luka Doncic.

Anything less, it seems, and the Suns will have been cheated by the NBA again and doomed to continued mediocrity.

I disagree.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns will make the 2019 NBA playoffs, regardless of what spot they pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

Obviously, Ayton and Doncic are the top prizes in this year’s draft, and rightfully so as both of them appear to be generational players. However, in the worst case scenario, spots three or four in the draft will still hold a ton of talent ready to make an immediate and lasting impact the league.

Marvin Bagley III was thought by many to be a candidate for the top pick for a long time. Jaren Jackson is rising up draft boards left and right amid growing comparisons to a true basketball unicorn. Michael Porter Jr. was considered the best talent in the class before he got hurt and missed most of his only season at Mizzou. Whoever the Suns pick at three or four (assuming the worst case scenario), they’ll be getting an impact player with All-Star potential for years to come.

How so? Let’s review:

Devin Booker is a franchise player with Hall of Fame potential and a desire to both lead and win here in Phoenix.

Josh Jackson is an ultra-athletic wing defender with a very high ceiling who grew tremendously during the last two months of his first NBA season.

Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss are two young players who showed flashes (albeit small, and in Chriss’ case maybe VERY small) in their second season while really getting coached in the league for the first time.

T.J. Warren is a perfect sixth man if Phoenix can develop the rest of the roster. Don’t forget he’s also on a pretty team friendly contract over the next four years.

Throw in the young stud from this year’s draft and future draft assets and that’s a pretty good young core to build around for the next decade. Also, don’t minimize the fact that General Manager Ryan McDonough is planning to go hard in free agency this summer. There’s a realistic chance that an impact player (See Clint Capela and Aaron Gordon) joins the Suns from another team and adds more to this roster.

(Also, a note to all the “Dragan is a bust” people out there. Come on, get real. Phoenix drafted him with the expectation that he was several years away from being ready. If you expected him to burst into an All-Star during season number two, you’re either delusional from the miracle that is Devin Booker, or you really don’t watch much basketball. Bender still has time to develop, and he will, especially with Igor. I’ll keep driving the Dragan bus until the wheels fall off.)

Lastly, the Suns have a new head coach that has drawn rave reviews from seemingly every coach he’s worked with and every player he’s coached. He even got Goran Dragic to say nice things about Phoenix – when is the last time that happened?

I believe in Igor Kokoskov and his ability to develop players and open it up offensively. This Suns squad will play vastly different under him next season. Phoenix may have not landed the big name in their coaching search (namely Mike Budenholzer or David Fizdale), but they got a great coach who fits with the roster.

Next: A brief history of the Phoenix Suns in the Draft Lottery

The Suns are no stranger to large, single season turnarounds. They have the pieces in place to do so again. Between the draft, a possible big free agent addition, and a talented new head coach, and everything is set for the franchise to bounce back again.

The Phoenix Suns will be a playoff team in 2019.

The Future is Here.