While the Phoenix Suns have more pressing needs in other areas, a look at the potential small forwards in this upcoming draft could prove beneficial
With the NBA Draft still some two months away and the Phoenix Suns, it may seem a bit early to look into the nuanced world of its prospects. However, as NBA fans know, the draft is full of complexities, with fast risers and sharp droppers littering the diverse field of young talent.
Looking ahead, the Phoenix Suns areas of need to look at filling through the draft are rather clear: Point guard and power forward. The point guard need is more future-focused, with Ricky Rubio still in his prime but with a glaring lack of a suitable replacement to succeed him (All due respect to the great Cameron Payne). Power forward is a much more immediate weakness, with Dario Saric underwhelming before showing out in Orlando (and also being a restricted free agent) and shallow depth to back up that position.
Kelly Oubre Jr., Cam Johnson, and Mikal Bridges can all play the four, but their value lies in being able to switch positions as needed, providing the Suns with more lineup versatility whenever the situation calls upon it. With that being the case, however, this year’s draft has several capable swingmen that could be considered to add to this roster, with Phoenix possibly filling the power forward spot by committee after nailing the small forward position. Let’s dive into some interesting swingmen who are at best worth a look for the Phoenix Suns, starting with Patrick Williams.
Patrick Williams is young (19 years old) but possesses tremendous upside. At a 6-8 frame weighing 225 lbs, Williams has the length and bulk needed to be a potentially devastating havoc-wreaker on the defensive end. His speed, anticipation, and strength are great assets, and he has a very good motor with decent awareness on that side of the ball.
On the offensive end, his shooting stretches out to the three-point line (32% in college) and offers the potential of Williams becoming a good two-way wing. His athleticism can also be used more as an off-ball player, although he could stand to improve in that area as well as in honing his subpar midrange jumper. If he continues to work on his shot and refines it, Williams would be a great get for the Suns as a prototypical 3 and D wing that Phoenix could deploy in dangerous matchups.
Williams’ also has some understated playmaking ability, and one can expect that to be more thoroughly fleshed out at the NBA level. That additional layer of offensive versatility would definitely lend itself to more dangerous lineups for, say, the Phoenix Suns, who could roll out a roster with decent playmaking at all five positions if they were to use Williams as a super small-ball five in select lineups.
Patrick Williams has skills as a 3 and D wing, but Issac Okoro’s skills have the potential to be even more transformative in Phoenix.
Issac Okoro’s stats aren’t going to blow you away. 12 points, two and a half rebounds and two assists a game aren’t screaming “hands down, monster prospect”, but Okoro has one NBA ready skill down pat before he’s even played an NBA game. The dude can defend.
Okoro’s IQ, great help defense, and superior basketball instincts all come into play when it comes to defending the great scorers. He moves extremely well, seemingly always in position for a steal or block, yet rarely prone to the risky gambles that most make that concede easy baskets for the opposition. Some can call that “safe” defense; I consider it smart.
Okoro can definitely improve on the offensive end to be sure. He played a lower usage role in Auburn so there may be some potential to tap into, but at the moment Okoro is a guy who is unimaginative offensively. A lot of his movement is straight to the basket, without a ton of left to right shiftiness, and his shooting is pretty inconsistent (shooting less than 70% from the free-throw line and less than 30% from three). I don’t see any glaring flaws in his release, though it does seem a beat too slow.
Ultimately Okoro’s defensive ability and fluid athleticism on both ends make him a very intriguing prospect for the Phoenix Suns and one that is absolutely worth a closer look.
Even being stocked with a solid stable of forwards in Bridges, Oubre, and Johnson, the Phoenix Suns could benefit from either of these small forwards and their individual strengths. With the draft lottery just a few days away, no one knows where these prospects may land, and if one of them does find their home in Phoenix, it just might be a perfect match for all parties.