Scenarios for the Phoenix Suns to trade their first round pick

Phoenix Suns James Jones (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns James Jones (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns hold a 14% chance at getting the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Which means they have an 86% chance they won’t.

In just over a month, the ping pong balls of NBA destiny will be bounced.

Under the new rules, the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers all have equal odds of getting the first overall pick, 14.0%. While the prospect of having the best odds in the Zion Williamson lotto are exciting, Suns fans should temper their expectations and realize that the most realistic possibility is that the team will have to trade down or out of the first round entirely, when all is said and done.

Despite having a tie for best overall odds, the actual odds are pretty stacked against the Suns winning the first pick, 86.0%.

In fact, the most likely statistical probability is that the Suns end up with the sixth overall pick, 26.0%.

The lowest they can possibly pick is seventh at only 7.1%, although this is the Phoenix Suns, so…

The challenge for Phoenix is that there are really only two elite players in this draft who would be able to significantly contribute to the team next year: Zion Williamson and Ja Morant.

After those two, the draft gets dense with shooting guards and small forwards, of which the Suns wouldn’t get much value for.

Players like RJ Barrett, Jarrett Culver, Cam Reddish, and De’Andre Hunter should be the natural other top selections, but none would likely see much of the floor for Phoenix behind Devin Booker and the plethora of small forwards already on the roster.

The best natural fits for the Suns are power forward Rui Hachimura, combo-guard Coby White, and point guard Darius Garland. All are nice players but none justify a top-10 selection.

It would therefore be basketball malpractice for the Suns to make a selection between 3-10 unless Ja or Zion happen to slip that far for some unexplained reason.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

This leaves the Suns with only a few options:

  1. Get a top two-pick and make a selection.
  2. Get a pick lower than top-two pick and trade up for one of the top picks.
  3. Get a pick lower than top-two and trade down in the draft or out of it entirely.

The first option would be great regardless of which pick they got, but it’s also unlikely.

If they get the top pick you’ll immediately hear me start arguing for them to trade down to the second pick, but you really can’t lose no matter what they do in this scenario.

Not even Robert Sarver can screw that up.

If Phoenix ends up needing to trade up to the second pick (because no one is giving up Zion), they should have a number of nice assets to help them package with their pick to make that move.

T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, and the Milwaukee Bucks’ future first round draft pick should all be on the table to help form a package that allows them to still snag Ja in this draft.

If the Suns end up trading out of the draft entirely, they have Tyler Johnson‘s large and expiring contract which they can use to gain a high cost player who may not fit in their current or future plans.

Two players who might fit that mold are Aaron Gordon and Karl Anthony-Towns.

The Orlando Magic have Johnathan Issac and Mohamed Bamba as the front court of the their future.

Gordon was much improved this year at moving the ball and has one of the sneakily best contracts in the league.

Could the Suns package together Warren and their pick for Gordon? Maybe it requires more, but Phoenix has plenty to play with to sweeten the deal.

Gordon isn’t an All-Star player, yet, but he is a solid contributor with an improving shot and a team friendly deal who is a better player than what the Suns would find in the draft.

Minnesota is in the league’s worst payroll situations (apologies to the Wizards who have the two worst contracts in professional sports (*ahem* John Wall and Bradley Beal).

While they love KAT, they might be tempted to move him if the Suns can bail them out of the current mess and give them high quality young talent.

An outgoing package of KAT and Gorgui Dieng would free up almost $45 million a year for the Timberwolves.

Cost for the Suns might be something like Jackson, Warren, Johnson, the Suns’ pick, and the Bucks’ pick.

Maybe they need future picks, that’s fine.

Steep? Sure, but it’d be tough to beat a young core of Ayton, KAT, Kelly Oubre, and Booker.

Must Read. James Jones deserves our faith - if he does one thing right, right away. light

It’ll be interesting to see what the Phoenix Suns end up doing with their first round pick. But as Suns fans look to the Lottery next month, they should set their expectations in-line with the reality that a trade is coming.

Or at least it should be.