Have the Phoenix Suns finally learned from past draft mistakes?

It looks like the Phoenix Suns took the NBA Draft seriously this year, proving they may finally have learned from past mistakes.
2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns were active around the 2024 NBA Draft, taking two players in Ryan Dunn and Oso Ighodaro before signing the undrafted Jalen Bridges to a two-way contract. The draft picks themselves were the most the organization has taken since 2019, and even at that both of those picks (Jarrett Kulver and KZ Okpala) were moved before ever playing for the team.

It is clear then that the draft has represented something of a blind spot for the franchise, with the selection of Deandre Ayton first overall back in 2018 instead of Luka Doncic another in a long list of blunders. Owner Mat Ishbia's massive trades for Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal putting even more distance between the Suns and the nurturing of young talent.

But did this year's draft actually represent the moment in which the Suns finally learned from past mistakes, and in the process take a step closer to contention?

As of right now there is zero indication that any three of their new players are going to be moved anytime soon. Although the same was true of last year's second rounder Toumani Camara - he also had some nice Summer League outings - he ultimately became part of the deal that sent Ayton out of town.

If you've watched him play for the Portland Trail Blazers since then, it is easy to see why they would have asked for him to be thrown into the deal. Camara is a young player who excels on the defensive end, skills that good teams are always in demand for. Insisting on Camara was a win-win for Portland, because he can both grow with them or net them assets down the road in a trade.

That sort of long-term thinking - to say nothing of actually whiffing on a ton of selections - is what has been missing in The Valley in recent years, and it has meant General Manager James Jones has come under his fair share of scrutiny. It is too early to tell if any of these players are going to actually help the team, but they at least show some future planning by the Suns.

Best case scenario Dunn becomes this team's version of Mikal Bridges, giving the Suns a stopper who can slow down elite scorers. In the playoffs - albeit with a small sample size - the Suns ranked dead last in defensive rating (123.2) as they were torched by Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

During the regular season, the team were above league average in both rebounding (44.1, although again in the playoffs they finished last with 32.5) and the aforementioned defensive rating (113.7). One of the main reasons for this was the reliance on Jusuf Nurkic - who had a great season and stayed injury free - but who is just not athletic or quick enough to stop explosive opponents.

The hope now is that both Ighodaro and Bridges can quite quickly become athletic defenders who have a positive impact on that end of the court. Neither can currently come close to replicating the offensive game of Nurkic - he is a fantastic passer out of the paint and connects possessions from inside - but playing with three All-Stars they don't necessarily need to be right away.

Next. Suns beat out stiff competition to sign undrafted big to two-way deal. Suns beat out stiff competition to sign undrafted big to two-way deal. dark

Mostly though taking the draft seriously by trading up in both the first and second round in what has been viewed as a weaker class gives the Suns more flexibility down the road. They can trade the players if needed and also now have another second round pick left over to also bring to the table in a deal.

This all points to an organization who have finally grasped the importance of the draft both in the present and down the road. Should the Suns go deep in the postseason next year it won't get talked about much, yet you can bet Dunn and company will either have played a helping hand, or been the players necessary to make a trade that made the success happen.