Phoenix Suns NBA Draft trade-back options: Xavier Tillman
The only big man to appear on this list is not only the youngest but probably the most accomplished as well. That said, the younger Xavier TIllman does keep with the theme of the Phoenix Suns most likely looking at older players to select in the draft.
In his junior season at Michigan State Tillman averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Those numbers are strong, especially the passing, but what really stands out is the 2.1 blocks and 1.2 steals that he put up in his third year as he managed to win Big 10 defensive player of the year.
The two knocks that everyone has on Tillman are that he is not a shooter, averaging 26 percent on 1.6 attempts per game, and that he is undersized at only 6-foot-8. To survive in the NBA, Tillman will either need to develop a more consistent outside shot, which is entirely possible, or he will need his defense from college to translate at the next level.
There is reason for hope on that end because although he is short in height Tillman still boasts a 7-foot-2 wingspan and is built with an upper-body similar to P.J. Tucker. While what Tucker is able to do at his size is incredible and Tillman is not that, but he does not have to be. While Tillman is short for an NBA center, defense is not played at the top of your head, and he has the tools on that end to be successful.
One of the most intriguing parts of Tillman’s game is his passing ability. The combination of passing and defense that Tillman possesses is rare to find. Last year Tillman was the only player in college basketball with an assist rate of 18 percent and block/steal rates of 6 percent and 2 percent respectively.
Tillman’s fit with the Phoenix Suns is an interesting one because he would project to be better off as a center in the NBA. You could survive with playing Tillman and Deandre Ayton together if either begins to shoot the ball from deep. But without Ayton Tillman would fit in well with the type of offense Monty Williams likes to run.
If the Suns do not bring back Aron Baynes they will need to find a backup center at some point. If they trade back and collect an extra pick Tillman might be available midway into the second round.
His winning pedigree, high motor, and commitment to defense are qualities that James Jones looks for in players. Which is why he would be a good option for the Suns later in the draft.