Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton
I personally only have two 100% do-not-leave-unprotected players in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Yes, Josh Jackson still looks to be one of the best up-and-coming players on the roster, and yes, Phoenix has three additional top-ten players on the roster in Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, and Mikal Bridges, but if there were any two players that under no circumstances can be left unprotected, that would be the next Kobe and Shaq.
This is actually a great situation to be in too. Not many young teams can say that they have two must protect players under all circumstances. Heck, most teams would even allow one of their stars to be left unprotected just to see if one of the expansion teams would bite to allow the current team to get out from underneath the giant contract no strings attached.
That said, if for whatever reason the Suns left Booker and Ayton unprotected, they would undoubtedly be the first and second overall picks by the expansion teams, meaning that their times in Phoenix would be done, and in Ayton’s case, before it even started.
Thankfully those two would never be left unprotected and thus would undoubtedly be safe, meaning that Phoenix’s core would be left intact, and the Suns would have a few extra guaranteed wins added to their schedule this coming season having to face two new expansion teams.