At this time every year, NBA teams find themselves split into two categories: those praying for ping pong balls to fall their way, and those anxiously awaiting the playoffs. But although the Phoenix Suns find themselves associated with the latter group, that does not mean they cannot have a little fun also looking ahead at the 2022 NBA Draft.
Granted, the Suns will likely arrive at this welcome party for the NBA underdressed and quite late. Phoenix’s first round pick will transfer over to the Oklahoma City Thunder barring a cataclysmic second half to the 2021-22 season, and their second rounder is projected to be the draft’s final pick with the team currently possessing the league’s top record.
But the infamous “Mr. Irrelevant” draft slot still carries value nonetheless. Past teams have cashed it in on notable players such as Drazen Petrovic, Michael Cooper, and former Suns point guard Isaiah Thomas. Those three collectively own a Defensive Player of the Year award, two All-Star bids, and a Hall of Fame selection.
In their first mock draft this year, ESPN recently made their own prediction though for who the Suns might take with their lone pick, eyeing a guy with an NCAA championship under his belt, four years of collegiate experience, and a mullet that will take you back to 1985.
For those unable to figure it out yet, with the No. 60 overall pick, the worldwide leader in sports has the Suns selecting forward/guard Matthew Mayer.
As a senior, Mayer has started every game for No. 4 ranked Baylor this year, averaging 9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. Able to stretch the floor, he resembles a career 34.8 percent shooter from deep, averaging 4.3 attempts per game this year.
That paired with his 1.7 steals per game makes him a solid 3-and-D prospect to feed into Phoenix’s farm system.
Mock drafts that get cooked up hundreds of days prior to the real thing must still be taken with a grain of salt. But with that said, Mayer’s fit with the Suns does feel worth acknowledging all the same.
With Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson flourishing with Phoenix right now, Mayer might become the team’s next great wing addition. Being an NCAA champion last year, he carries a winning pedigree certain to attract Monty Williams as well.
Although less important, his looks and energetic approach to the game also promise to make him a fan favorite in the Valley. We recently saw just how little time it takes the Phoenix fanbase to rally behind new players with the Bismack Biyombo hype still persisting.
If the Suns indeed win a championship this year too, he might come to them as a fun reward on the side, helping to pump energy into the team should it run into any title hangover during the 2022-23 season.
To reiterate though, do not go online and max out your credit card buying Matthew Mayer merchandise.
But maybe as we move closer to March Madness, Suns fans should keep an eye out for how he does with the Bears, and the team should buy a few extra hair brushes for the locker room just in case.