Phoenix Suns: 5 Most Disappointing Draft Selections This Century

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
3 of 3
Phoenix Suns, Jalen Smith
Phoenix Suns, Jalen Smith. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Jalen Smith

To be fair to Smith, he still has time to make something of his NBA career…just not with Phoenix. Taken with the tenth pick in 2020, the Maryland product played just 56 games for the Suns before being being traded, along with a second-round pick, for Torrey Craig.

He did show signs with the Indiana Pacers last season, averaging 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in 22 games. It could certainly become a trade that the Suns regret further down the line, but for now, they’ll be most disappointed with who they could have selected originally.

Devin Vassell is developing nicely as a productive three-and-D player having been taken with the 11th pick. More significantly though, the Suns had access to one of the best young guards in the league in Tyrese Haliburton.

Haliburton would have been the ideal player for the Suns – someone who could play the backup point-guard role while also being capable of playing alongside Chris Paul and Devin Booker in certain lineups. Long-term he’d be the obvious successor to Paul as he drifts out of his prime. Instead, the Suns are left with Craig as the asset from that pick.

1. Dragan Bender

Bender had all the potential to be able to do everything on the floor, yet failed to do really anything substantial. Taken with the fourth overall pick in 2016, Bender was seen as a Kristaps Porzingis type – someone who could shoot and show guard skills offensively while possessing a 7’0″ frame that could develop into a presence defensively.

Phoenix Suns, Larry Nance Jr.
Phoenix Suns, Larry Nance Jr. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Like Smith, Bender was so disappointing that the Suns declined his fourth-year team option. After just 187 NBA games across three different teams, Bender was out of the league by the remarkable age of just 22.

He holds career averages of 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting less than 40% from the floor. Phoenix missed out on a top three pick that likely would have landed them a future All-Star – Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram or Jaylen Brown.

Phoenix Suns can go ‘all in’ on 3x All-Star and future franchise point-guard. dark. Next

Still, with the fourth pick, they had access to the likes of Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Jakob Poeltl and Domantas Sabonis, all of whom were taken in the following seven picks.