What if: the Phoenix Suns win the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery

Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /

What if, with their 14.0% chance, the Phoenix Suns win the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery? Recent history shows the answer might not be as simple as it seems.

If the 2019 NBA Draft were a band, it would be called: Zion Williamson and his Roadies.

After the first overall pick, there is no one else nearly as impactful and exciting as Zion, making the entire Lottery system this year truly all about one winner – and a whole bunch of losers.

The Phoenix Suns and their fans would love  to be winners once again.

Having won the lottery in 2018, and the right to select center Deandre Ayton, the Phoenix Suns would need lighting to strike twice and do something that for the prior 51 seasons of their existence, they couldn’t do once.

For those nay-sayers who pout saying that it would never  happen to the Suns, it has happened twice during the lottery era (and six times prior), the most famous back-to-back event being the Orlando Magic in 1992 when they selected Shaquille O’Neal and then in 1993 when they turned the selection of Chris Webber into Anfernee Hardaway and a number of additional first round picks.

More recently the Cavaliers won the lottery in 2013 and 2014, taking Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins – which, if they were stuck with those two players and never got LeBron James back, they would have been in a lot more trouble over the last half of the decade.

In regards to the return on what the Phoenix Suns might be able to expect from the potential of the first overall pick, the last five number one overall picks and their accumulated Win Shares are:

2014 – Andrew Wiggins (13.0 Win Share)

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

2015 – Karl-Anthony Towns (45.4)

2016 – Ben Simmons (17.5)

2017 – Markelle Fultz (0.5)

2018 – Deandre Ayton (5.8)

There is obviously one major jewel (thus far) in the last five years of first overall selections, that being Karl-Anthony Towns who has dominated at the center position since his entrance into the league.

Prior to him, Andrew Wiggins was taken first overall but quickly traded to Minnesota in the Kevin Love deal. This has allowed Wiggins and Towns to run together for the four seasons, with Towns proving to be the far superior player of the two.

That said, while Wiggins’ win share is that of someone who one might consider a bust as the first overall pick, if the Phoenix Suns did win the lottery and Zion Williamson became at best a mediocre star but at least one with still above average scoring ability, that will be a benefit to both Ayton and Devin Booker and will make the team much better.

But if he becomes a Towns-level talent and takes over the league as an elite power forward, Phoenix will undoubtedly become a playoff contender immediately.

Ben Simmons is potentially a generational point guard and has helped lead the Philadelphia 76ers to the playoffs the last two seasons. If Zion became a Simmons-quality talent, again, they’ll be set for many, many years. However, with Simmons comes one giant particular flaw, his inability to shoot. If Zion entered the league with an equal-level flaw in his game, the Suns will become the 76ers: a lovable team to watch, but one that is limited by one of it’s best players’ greatest weakness.

The great fear for every team at any position in the draft is if the player that they coveted so highly ends up being entirely broken. Not only is it heart-breaking for the franchise and their fans, but for a team like the Phoenix Suns who are desperate to add another star, to win the lottery and then take a player who may never be starting-caliber or even impactful,  would be devastating to the team’s growth, and for Phoenix, might lead to the core’s breakup due to lack of success.

And finally, Deandre Ayton.

While Ayton will not win Rookie of the Year for 2018-19, he was the first rookie in franchise history to average a double-double, and believe it or not, led all rookies of his class in Win Share (as noted above, he scored a 5.8 WS last season, but did so in 71 games. Luka Doncic, the de-facto RoY – and the player on arguably the best team of the high lottery teams – had a WS of 4.9, in one additional game.

So, if the Suns draft Zion, and he begins his career like Deandre (who is arguably the best rookie, even if he doesn’t win the RoY award), there will be no doubt that with expected growth, consistency in scheme and roster makeup, all with solid coaching, he will reach his potential, and Phoenix will be a very good team for a very long time.