Widely regarded as a one-player draft with four or more tiers of prospects just within the top-10, the 2019 NBA Draft poses a problem for the Phoenix Suns.
They own the No. 6 pick, and predicting what happens in the first five selections on draft night isn’t easy. Zion Williamson will go first, while Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett could follow. But trades and potential surprise picks are expected from there, making Phoenix likely to consider moving up or down in the draft.
They at least have to be prepared. If a team higher in the draft really likes a player that is going to fall to six or lower, a trade-up scenario could net the Suns a player they really need. If other teams like the Lakers (fourth overall) and Cavaliers (fifth) draft two players a tier above what’s left at No. 6, maybe general manager James Jones can trade down to roll the dice on two project prospects with higher upside.
Just to get a feel for the landscape ahead and behind of Phoenix, Empire of the Suns’ Kellan Olson and Kevin Zimmerman each give a trade-up and a trade-down scenario to preview what might be some draft night wackiness.
Suns trade to Lakers: No. 6 pick, Josh Jackson or T.J. Warren
Suns receive: No. 4 pick
Knowing it has a wing logjam, Phoenix frees up some money and a spot on the wing while assuring itself that point guard Darius Garland isn’t off the board. Garland will provide floor spacing and has the handles to create for himself and others, and that’s helpful now even though he has to learn how to be an NBA point guard. This provides more roster balance for the Suns, opens more space to re-sign Kelly Oubre Jr., and gives Los Angeles a rotation piece as it readies for a busy free agency period.
Jackson would be a better fit alongside a team that again runs out Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Warren would be more useful if the Lakers are forced to trade either Ingram or Kuzma in, say, a trade for Anthony Davis.
— Kevin Zimmerman
Suns trade to Knicks: No. 6 pick, top-5 protected 2021 first-round pick, Josh Jackson
Suns receive: No. 3 pick
Let’s get weird and operate under a couple of assumptions — that we have no idea whether they are true or not — to twist some logic into this.
The first is the Suns are not only are sky-high on Duke guard R.J. Barrett, but they believe Barrett and Devin Booker can co-exist in a few years as a starting backcourt. The second is the Knicks are willing to take one legitimate asset for the future (the 2021 first rounder) and a flyer (Jackson) for the price of passing on Barrett in what many believe is a three-player class.
Barrett’s playmaking in the NCAA Tournament doesn’t make the backcourt fit inconceivable, and with Booker, Barrett, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, that future first wouldn’t come back to bite the Suns as long as Barrett panned out.
— Kellan Olson
Suns trade to Nets: No. 6, No. 32
Suns receive: Spencer Dinwiddie, No. 27
If the Suns can get a starting-caliber point guard for over one season out of this pick, they should capitalize. That is Dinwiddie, who more than proved himself this season and in the playoffs after having some small buzz the past few seasons.
The tricky part about Dinwiddie and the Nets is the timing of the draft before free agency. While Brooklyn reportedly has grand plans to sign two max contract players that could overload them at point guard and make Dinwiddie expendable, they won’t know that until a week or two into free agency. The hope is the Nets are confident enough in what they can do with the sixth overall pick and they want to fully commit to D’Angelo Russell regardless.
— Kellan Olson
Suns trade to Hawks: No. 6 pick
Suns receive: No. 8 pick, No. 17 pick
The Hawks added even more draft capital in the Allen Crabbe trade and deals the 17th selection to Phoenix to move up a few spots. Not liking what’s left after Jarrett Culver and Darius Garland are off the board, the Suns still get a point guard they covet as Coby White falls to eighth. And in the middle of the first round, they take advantage when one of these frontcourt players unexpectedly falls into their lap: Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Bol Bol or P.J. Washington.
— Kevin Zimmerman
Trade out (bonus round!)
Suns trade to Lakers: No. 6
Suns receive: Lonzo Ball
With Monday’s update from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Anthony Davis trade talks, the suggestion is that multi-team deals are the way to go for suitors in giving the New Orleans Pelicans what they want for Davis.
Could the Pelicans see the No. 6 pick more desirable than Ball? That could very well be the case, but the bigger question is if the Suns believe in the 21-year-old Ball enough to give them four long-term starters under the age of 23.
What we do know is that Ball’s ability as a defender and passer make him some slight offensive improvement away from being just about perfect alongside Booker.