Building a ‘Dream’ Suns team with perfect NBA Draft picks

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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Matthew Stockman/ Getty Images
Matthew Stockman/ Getty Images /

No. 4 Pick in 2016 Draft: Jamal Murray (G, Kentucky) (7)

Original Pick: Dragan Bender (F, Maccabi Tel Aviv)

The 2015–2016 Suns may have had a future mega-star in rookie Booker, but they didn’t know what they had with him yet. This 23-59 disasterclass was piloted by fairly-inefficient 20-per-game scorer Eric Bledsoe and a really inefficient 19-per-game guy Brandon Knight. In hindsight, not the greatest.

The cardinal rule of drafting when you suck: don’t worry about fit. Someone should have told the 2016 Suns that, as thinking Bledsoe, Knight and the young Booker meant drafting a guard wasn’t necessary turned out to be a bad idea.

Bender was an oversized Power Forward out of Croatia who, at the fourth slot in the draft, felt like an attempt to replicate the previous year’s success at the same spot in Kristaps Porzingas. Both were extremely tall glasses of untapped potential, and Porzingis’ rookie year saw extraordinary production and development from a pick that was booed by New York Knicks fans at the time.

But as it turned out, another young Kentucky guard to pair with Booker would have been a better call: enter your starting Point Guard of the future… Jamal Murray. Bender never could find his footing in the league, but Murray has strung together two dominant playoff runs in his relatively short career, and forms the second half of the league’s most lethal duo, which just spent the last week hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Murray is a gifted passer and has solid size for his position, but his real superpower is his ability to play off of his teammates and be a real threat off the ball. This makes him the perfect point for this dream team, as we’ll pick up plenty of ball-dominant guys who can walk it over half court momentarily. For now, let’s round out 2016 with the Jokic to Murray’s… Murray.

No. 8 Pick in 2016 Draft: Domantas Sabonis (C, Gonzaga) (11)

Original Pick: Marquis Chriss (F, Washington)

It’s not exactly Jokić, but the playmaking big in Domantas Sabonis is the next best thing, and great value at the eight spot. Not selecting Bender at four gives us some wiggle room to select a different big in this slot, and once again we’re prioritizing unselfishness and offensive creativity.

Sabonis took a while to really find his stroke in the NBA, but this past year on the Sacramento Kings saw him as the centerpiece of a team that took the defending champion Golden State Warriors the distance for the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 16 years.

He should make Booker and Murray’s lives a lot easier, drawing gravity from both post positions as well as crisp breakout passes and secure ball handling in a pinch. The only drawback is rim protection and occasional lack of defensive footspeed, something that he more than makes up for on the offensive end. From the picks the Suns have to work with, rim protection is going to be a real issue.

I guess we’ll just have to outscore everybody, so let’s go get some more scoring.