Could NCAA finalist be the draft solution for the Suns?

The Phoenix Suns should be looking to draft a center in this year's NBA Draft, and an NCAA finalist from this season could be the solution.
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There is no doubt that the upcoming NBA Draft is one of the weakest in recent memory, and there doesn't look to be a can't miss talent to be taken with the first overall pick. Not that the Phoenix Suns will care, as their lone selection will take place all the way down at number 22.

Already there has been some chatter as to what kind of player the organization are going to select, with the general feeling right now being that a young center is the way to go here. The opportunity to get younger, cheaper and more athletic at a position occupied by the lumbering Jusuf Nurkic one that the front office would be wise to take seriously.

But what if the Suns go in another direction, and take the much more known and established Zach Edey with the pick instead?

Center Edey has already spoken about playing for another team in the Eastern Conference, although most mock drafts currently have him still being available when it is the Suns' turn to make a selection. The general consensus being that - barring an unexpected reach - he is going to go somewhere in the 25-36 range.

Taking him would be a gamble, even if the 7'4" big man made the national championship game with Purdue this season and was extremely effective at the college level. That won't translate seamlessly to the pros but there is no doubt that at 22-years-old, Edey would come in and be able to contribute straight away.

The reasons for not taking him are both because the upside long-term may not be there, and that he has some similarities to Nurkic. But what if the Suns were to double-down on being massive inside, forcing opponents to have to that particular puzzle out? Certainly having Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal on the other side of the ball brings with it a nice balance.

Edey has been compared to Jonas Valanciunas of the New Orleans Pelicans - and to watch him play - it is easy to see why. But the Suns could ditch current backup Drew Eubanks, turn Nurkic into a player off the bench and have Edey eventually start games with their "Big 3". This would not happen right away, and if anything Nurkic would be an ideal veteran to take Edey under his wing.

Nurkic also had by his standards one of his best seasons in the league, both because he could stay healthy and through showing a level of consistency that he hadn't in years. But even that best case scenario had limitations that were badly exposed in the postseason, and having him for 20 minutes a night backing up Edey down the road would be a nice bridge to the future.

The Suns are unlikely to be able to get off Nurkic's current contract, which owes him $37 million from 2024-2026. So why not have his ready made replacement join the team now? If anything an offensive-minded head coach in Mike Budenholzer might just be able to unlock a higher level to Edey's play on that end of the court.

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He could become an Brook Lopez style player for them in time, and the fit next to Booker and Beal works on a lot of levels as well. It would also mean less time for Durant at the five - and although a more athletic and explosive center could work even better - it can take years for young centers to reach their full potential in the league.

Edey is by no means a home run, but selecting him would give the Suns a chance to add somebody who could make their rotation right away. Given the clear deficiencies with a tandem of Nurkic and Eubanks, the opportunity to not run that back and instead bring Nurkic off the bench is one worth exploring as well.