#4: Draft Day Debacle
In 20 years (heck, even in 5 or 10 years), basketball historians may look back at the 2019 Phoenix Suns draft and deem it the greatest and most forward-thinking draft of our generation. However, at the time, it was a colossal and epic failure, leaving newly-minted full-time General Manager, James Jones, with some egg on his face.
Cameron Johnson may turn out to be more than worthy of this draft position. He is currently averaging the 11th most points per game, which aligns exactly with this 11th overall selection. However, on draft day, he was the biggest reach of the night.
If the Suns were set on drafting him, they could have traded much further back and still gotten him. Maybe that trade wasn’t there to be had, but trading for Dario Saric (who is…fine) for the privilege of reaching on a player they could have gotten 10 picks later was, at the time, flat out embarrassing.
Moreover, Johnson had a connection with Vice President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Bower, from his days at Marist, which pointed to potential nepotism. Not great.
When it comes to their other first round selection, Ty Jerome, reasonable minds could differ on the trade they made to get him. The Suns sent their protected 2020 pick from the Bucks to the Celtics in exchange for the 24th pick and Aron Baynes.
That is probably a fair trade, with Aron Baynes playing the best basketball of his career during Ayton’s absence. But he is on a one-year deal and will likely be costly to resign. Ty Jerome hasn’t played enough to get a good gauge yet on his long-term viability, but he has stumbled a bit out of the gate.
Regardless of the rookies’ play up until now, nearly every single post-draft analysis game the Suns a grade of “D” (or worse) for their draft day selections. To be fair, these are the same folks who gave the Suns an “A” for drafting Josh Jackson, so who knows it it will all turn out. Hopefully, Johnson’s shooting carries him to a great career, but on draft day, picking him #11 was decidedly questionable. At best.
And it was an embarrassing day for a franchise trying to turn things around.