FanSided conducted a hypothetical expansion draft and only one player from the Phoenix Suns was selected: Mikal Bridges.
Our friends at The Step Back conducted an incredibly fun exercise dubbed the FanSided Expansion Draft. The premise is that the NBA hypothetically added two expansion teams, cleverly dubbed the Seattle Sea Lions and Kansas City Burnt Ends (complete with logos and uniforms). Every existing NBA team got to protect three players (chosen by each site’s expert) and the rest of the field entered the draft pool. Out of this group, one player from the Phoenix Suns was selected.
Before we get to that, however, let’s talk about who I decided to protect. The first two were glaringly easy. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are clearly off-limits, but the third player required some thought.
In the end, I decided to go with the flashy baller who should be in the most-improved player conversation this year, Kelly Oubre Jr.
I know Oubre only has one year left on his contract, and assuming he continues to soar next season, he will be expensive to re-sign in 2021. However, I’m not sure how contractually nuanced this hypothetical expansion draft was meant to be. From my seat, I can’t predict what kind of long-term commitment the organization has to Tsunami Papi, so I chose the short-sided stance and protected him from entering the expansion draft pool. He’s just too explosive, too good of a scorer, and too much fun to let go.
The only Phoenix Suns player to be selected was Mikal Bridges.
The rest of the Phoenix Suns roster was up for grabs in the expansion draft, but the only player chosen was Mikal Bridges, who Gerald Bourguet (former site expert at Valley of the Suns), representing the fictitious Seattle Sea Lions, chose with the 16th overall pick.
When justifying the choice, Bourget said:
Drafting Mikal Bridges — one of the most underrated, already elite defenders in the NBA who’s finally starting to hit 3s at a more respectable rate and won’t turn 24 until August — right after makes for a juicy mentor-mentee situation with RoCo, especially since Bridges as a small-ball 4 unlocked Phoenix’s most effective five-man lineup this year.
All true things.
When Bridges was inserted into the lineup in place of Dario Saric, the Phoenix Suns became the best version of themselves. It is frustrating we won’t get a chance to see that continue in Disney considering Oubre has ruled himself out for the final eight games, but it will be great to watch Bridges’ game continue to grow.
I thought there was a good chance Ricky Rubio would come off the board, but it was not the case. With studs like Kemba Walker, Jrue Holiday, and, uh, Eric Bledsoe available, the Sea Lions and Burnt Ends chose athleticism and aggression over craftiness and a pass-first mentality.
Then again, the Burnt Ends also selected profound mediocrities, Delon Wright and Tyus Jones, so maybe Rubio was deemed too old. Regardless, big mistake.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much of an argument for anyone else on the roster to have been selected. Perhaps, there is an outside chance Cameron Johnson and his 3-point shooting could have been worthy of a pick, but I don’t think he showed enough yet to justify drafting him as a rookie. He will have an opportunity to change that in Disney, though.
In the end, Gerald’s Sea Lions have a deeper team, but the Burnt Ends have the better starting five. Take your pick as to which philosophy you’d prefer, but give me the best five and I’ll make the best out of the bench.
According to Commissioner Adam Silver last season, there is little appetite for the real NBA to bring on new expansion teams. However, with the COVID-19-induced financial woes the league faces, expansion may be a way to help dig themselves out of the money hole.
If the league were to expand (or a team was to relocate), rumors circulate that Kansas City, Seattle Las Vegas, Mexico City, and Louisville are in contention to host an NBA team if and when one becomes available.
Until then, this was a fun look at what might happen if that day ever comes.