This would be awful, but: The Phoenix Suns and #6 overall pick

D'Angelo Russell Devin Booker Phoenix Suns (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell Devin Booker Phoenix Suns (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The NBA Draft Lottery is on May 14, and the Phoenix Suns have a 26.0% chance of selecting 6th overall – their highest odds at any draft position. What if this happened?

No Zion Williamson.

No Ja Morant.

No…anybody, really, that has at least a near guaranteed shot at becoming a future star for the Phoenix Suns if they end up being passed by three teams in the Draft Lottery and end up selecting 6th overall.

At least it’s not 7th overall…right?

Yet, even at 6th, to know that three  teams behind them (each with lesser odds at drafting in the top-three than the Suns themselves), happened to jump ahead of them, it would be just the worst.

But while history in the draft is absolutely no guarantee of the present, it is interesting to note what has happened recently at the 6th spot to at least gauge would could potentially  happen this time as well, if Phoenix happens to have found themselves slipped down that far.

In the last five drafts, these are the players that have been taken 6th overall, with their accumulated Win Shares:

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

2014 – Marcus Smart (16.2 WS)

2015 – Willie Cauley-Stein (17.4)

2016 – Buddy Hield (10.0)

2017 – Jonathan Issac – (4.2)

2018 – Mohamed Bamba (1.7)

Whereas the 7th overall pick has seen no fewer than three serious  difference-makers selected in the past five seasons (including, but not limited to Jamal Murray), the 6th overall spot has not been so kind to teams.

Marcus Smart is certainly not bad, and a point guard that many have had attached to the Suns over the past year or so, either through trade or his impending free agency. Of this group he is arguably the best of the five (I say arguably  as he has the second best WS of the five and is a terrible shooter), however, if the Suns, who are in desperate need of a point guard, found a Marcus Smart equivalent, that wouldn’t be the worst  addition at six overall – although they would still likely need to find a veteran starter for at least the next year.

If you take away Willie Cauley-Stein’s position and just look at his WS, that would be a very decent addition with the 6th overall pick. The problem with that though is that he is not really an impact  player, just a good  player, something the Suns have a plethora of. They would like nothing more than to find another game-changer to build around, and while a player of Cauley-Stein’s overall caliber would be nice, that player wouldn’t put Phoenix over the top by any means.

Buddy Hield is the next Stephen Curry! – ‘Nuff said.

Or is it?

Actually, Buddy Hield is growing into a really nice shooting guard – but that’s the problem. Not only is he not a point guard, the Phoenix Suns’ biggest need, but he also plays the same position as the Suns’ best player. Then it also took him three seasons to become an impact player in the NBA, and he is already 26-years-old. If you look at just WS comp and ability at his peak, that is not bad. However, if you look at player position and time to develop, that kind of a player just holds no  value to the Phoenix Suns.

Johnathan Issac and Mohamed Mamba were both players that I hoped the Phoenix Suns would find a way to find a way to acquire in their respective drafts, and Bamba’s comps to superstar defenders of the past and present really  hyped up who he might become. However, regardless of position, they will just take too long to develop (if they develop at all), and much like Hield, if Phoenix is forced to draft a project at 6th overall, they’ll probably pass.

Some of the top mock drafts have these players potentially being selected 6th overall in June:

NBC Sports: (PG) Darius Garland – Vanderbilt

NBADraft.Net: (PG/SG) Coby White – North Carolina

NBADraftRoom: (PG/SG) Coby White – North Carolina

Tankathon: (SF) De’Andre Hunter – Virginia

Three of the four mock selections are point guards (with two of the three being Coby White), but the question is: how quickly could either of them potentially step in and play?

Likely neither, each probably taking the protracted route like Isaac or Bamba, respectively.

So then what if James Jones wants a more impact player via the draft? Might he look into trading the pick?

Unfortunately, simply from a historical comparison’s perspective, there hasn’t been a trade of the 6th overall pick over the past five seasons with which to directly compare.

Of course, no two drafts are alike as the talent differences overall are never the same, and the needs and mentalities of teams and their management are never exactly the same either, let alone the same order.

That said, one only has to go back six years to 2013 to find the last trade of a 6th overall pick, and it looked like this:

Jrue Holiday was only 22-years-old at the time of the trade, but had just completed his first (and so far only) All-Star season. In some ways it was like the Phoenix Suns acquiring Kevin Johnson back in 1988, only without KJ’s long-term success and eventual superstar status.

While Jrue is still only 28 and still a very serviceable point guard (and potentially a trade target of the Suns’ this summer should the Pelicans blow things up), if Phoenix was able to find a somewhat equivalent trade situation and partner, they’d probably jump at it.

The only player who could potentially place the Suns in a similar situation to the New Orleans Pelicans and Jrue Holiday is D’Angelo Russell, who is only 23-years-old, and just made his first All-Star appearance this past season.

His youth and talent plus his friendship with Devin Booker really does make the situation seem like the perfect matching, so we’ll see.

They might not even need to trade  for him too.

Must Read. What if the worst happened: The Phoenix Suns and the #7 pick. light

The past five years have not seen a team select a superstar player with the 6th overall pick, although there has been some decent talent found, just none of whom was ready to make a big impact right away.

But if the Phoenix Suns were able to find a trade partner, potentially one centered around D’Angelo Russell, there might be reason to be excited about the possibilities that dropping back three spots might have to offer.