No. 1 Pick in 2018: Luka Dončić (G/F, Slovenia) (3)
Original Pick: Deandre Ayton (C, Arizona)
Fate is a cruel mistress because somehow the most successful pick since Booker happened to pass on probably the single best player drafted since then: Luka Doncic.
Any Suns or Kings “what if” piece has to begin and end with the same sentence: they could have drafted Dončić. Ayton quietly had a pretty solid rookie campaign, but mutual issues with coaching and an awkward contract standoff that resulted in both sides agreeing to a probably-way-too-big contract have since tossed question marks above the still-young player.
Dončić, on the other hand, has been lighting the league on fire since he landed at Dallas-Fort Worth, and has cemented himself as one of the league’s five most valuable players.
From a basketball perspective, this is a no-brainer. Dončić can make shots that other people do not even conceive of taking, put together 60-20-10 stat lines against the Knicks just because he feels like it, and brute force his way to the Western Conference Finals past…the Suns team that could have drafted him.
His defensive effort and conditioning can be questionable at times, but thankfully his size is not up for debate, which is often the deciding factor for a player’s defensive ceiling. There is a real question of fit for Dončić, as his most productive years have come playing most of his minutes at Point Guard.
But fear not! Someone call up 2020 LeBron James, because we’re riving the Point-Forward position on this team. Murray and Booker can do work off the ball, and Sabonis and make sure the ball stays moving. Dončić can just have the ball whenever he wants it, and do what he does best.
No. 10 Pick in 2018: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (G, Kentucky) (11)
Original Pick: Mikal Bridges (F, Villanova)
Did someone say more guards? Bridges was not a bad pick by any measure, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is just too good to pass up. The 2023 First Team All-NBA guard would ironically not even start on the proposed super team, which puts him in play for the fictional Sixth Man of the Century award, which he would certainly win.
SGA provides some jank to a team with way too many smooth operators. His clunky movements unorthodox style should confuse opponents expecting the silky strokes from Booker, Mitchell and Dončić, and brings some serious paint scoring to a team full of shooters and multi-level guys.
With his All-World facilitating, SGA would run the second unit like a well oiled machine and would run everyone else’s second unit into the ground.
Someone should tell Monty Williams that playoff rotations are easy! Just get an All-NBA guard off the bench.