The NBA Draft is finally here and it couldn’t come soon enough. Teams are scrambling to make final preparations and this has a chance to be a crazy day with all the possible draft day trades. With the Phoenix Suns selecting fourth, here is how they should view their big board going into tonight.
1. Josh Jackson, Small Forward, Kansas Jayhawks
If you asked any NBA fan what the Suns lack currently, almost everyone would say “defense.” To stand correct, that is an understatement. What could fix that issue going forward? An easy answer consist of 6-foot-8 forward Josh Jackson.
Jackson is an explosive athlete and elite defender that would instantly make an impact for the Suns who ranked 26th and 28th the past two seasons in defensive efficiency ratings. Although Jackson is thin-framed, he can make up for that by tacking on more weight as he gets more experience in the league, and it will help his development on the defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, Jackson isn’t the most skilled, but he has showcased his ability to help stretch the floor and shoot threes efficiently at a 37.8 percent clip. Along with that he can attack the basket by creating his own shot, via layups, post ups and pulling up in midrange.
With time, he can become a better halfcourt player, as that was a weakness if his shot isn’t falling. Playing on the Suns, running up and down the court could really benefit his game and give him higher percentage shots.
Overall, Jackson is a physical player who specializes on defense and can contribute solidly on offense. Another positive for Jackson is his rebounding, as he averaged 7.4 rebounds a game for the Kansas Jayhawks. If you look at this draft, Jackson can land anywhere from picks 3-5 depending on trades, but the Suns look like his best fit.
2. De’Aaron Fox, Guard, Kentucky Wildcats
Originally, I didn’t have De’Aaron Fox this high on my big board. But with all the trade rumors of the Suns looking to unload Eric Bledsoe, I put Fox one spot up. This is all dependent on a trade. Teams that have inquired or been in rumors for Bledsoe are the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, and Chicago Bulls.
Fox put together an impressive season for the Wildcats. He posted 16.7 points, 4.6 assists and 4 rebounds a game, and asserted himself as one of the top prospects in this years draft.
His measurable’s stand at 6’4″ with a 6’6″ wingspan and has impressive speed and quickness, certainly that helped him get to the rim and score at the college level. Fox has shown the ability to be a good defender with his quick instincts on the floor. He is as competitive as any player in this draft.
A weakness would be his lack of shooting from midrange. Teams are drafting him for his tremendous upside in the future, but with anything, that can improve. He stated that he can impact the game regardless if his shot isn’t falling.
Fox would be a solid replacement for Bledsoe and lining him up to Devin Booker sounds intriguing. Down the line, its a pairing that could be lethal due to both their upside. If the Suns end up adding De’Aaron Fox, they don’t call them the “Kentucky Suns” for nothing (Tyler Ulis, Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and Brandon Knight).
3. Jonathan Isaac, Forward, Flordia State Seminoles
The reason for having Jonathan Isaac high on this list isn’t because he is better than the next couple prospects. It is because he has worked out for the Suns twice already. Usually when a team works out a player twice, there is a good chance they will draft that player.
Isaac stands at 6-foot-11 with a wingspan of 7-foot-1. He is one of the more interesting prospects in the draft due to him being a defensive oriented player. With the versatility to guard four positions, he is a dream for coaches to utilize in lineups. That will be his niche in the NBA going forward.
Where it goes downhill for Isaac, is his offensive potential, or lack there of. His usage rate wasn’t that high as it was for the other top prospects in this years draft. But, with his athleticism, he makes up for it finishing at the rim.
Isaac also showed he was capable of handling the ball and creating his own shot. His three point percentage was 34.8 which some teams can work with. In the NBA era we live in now, having a Forward that can stretch the floor is vital to team success.
Isaac might not be the best fit for the Suns due to drafting Forwards Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender last year, unless he plays at the Small Forward position. Bender doesn’t have a natural position because he can both Forward positions and Center. Chriss on the other side can play either Power Forward or Center. A lineup consisting of Bender (SF), Isaac (PF) and Chriss (C) has the upside for a lot for defensive upside if coached well, but with all of them being so young, that could take some time.
4. Jayson Tatum, Forward, Duke Blue Devils
I have Jayson Tatum as the fourth prospect on this list, but he could easily be second. It all depends if the Boston Celtics decide to take him at three like some reports have stated. It makes a lot sense for the Celtics since they have Forwards mainly used as defenders (Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder).
Tatum is a 6-foot-8 combo Forward who is maybe the most polished offensive player in the draft. His strength is playing isolation, averaging 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.
Fluidity is one of his biggest strengths and it will translate to the NBA where pro offenses are faster and more complex, compared to college, where you can dominate with just sheer athleticism and speed. Tatum will showcase his ability to get open on a two step dribble, post up, hit pull up jumpers and understand the game sooner than others in this draft.
One of Tatum’s weaknesses is defense. Throughout his season with the Blue Devils he wasn’t consistent enough on defense and got overpowered in the post by other players. If he adds some strength, expect him to be better defensively down low.
According to many scouts and personal around the league, they have said Tatum is the most NBA-ready player of all the prospects in this draft. Assuming he is, he could be a great piece added to the Suns offense, who definitely need another playmaker offensively to take pressure off Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.