The Phoenix Suns enter the 2023-24 season as the favorites in the eyes of many people to win a first ever NBA championship. They have achieved this through adding Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and at one point Chris Paul at key times in the organization’s development.
Easy as it is to forget though, they never could have attracted these kinds of players without successfully drafting both Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Booker’s credentials need no introduction, and he is one of the top 15 players in the world. Former first overall pick Ayton isn’t as highly thought of, but there’s no doubt he is a top 10 player in his position in the league today.
Although both of these picks were successful in their own ways, the Suns have still missed out on some transcendent talent since 2010.
This isn’t meant in a way that cherry-picks players to make the Suns look bad either. We can’t grade them badly for missing on the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th pick in 2013) or Nikola Jokic (41st pick in 2014, and we all know the Taco Bell story at this stage), because may other franchises also didn’t take a chance on these two champions and league MVPs.
But looking through the list of players taken by the team in the last 13 years, and there have still been some bad misses. Obviously in some cases this would have changed the trajectory of the Suns, meaning they likely never could have drafted Booker or Ayton. But it is still a fun exercise to go back in time and imagine how good they could have been before now.
One exception will be made to this list, and that is Ayton. In hindsight Luka Doncic was the obvious first pick in 2018, and you could make a case for Jaren Jackson Jr. and even Trae Young as well. But the selection is still defensible, as Ayton has already helped power the Suns to an NBA Finals appearance (something Doncic or Young haven’t done), and is a big man who it is hard to pass on.