Phoenix Suns: Draft Guide 2020

With the 2019-2020 NBA season’s future looming over us like a fragile cloud, the annual draft is also affected. Usually a month from now, commissioner Adam Silver will announce the new wave of young players ready to invade the league.

However, with this virus still lingering, even the date of the event is up in the air.

But if we ignore reality for a second and pretend the season ended today, the Phoenix Suns would have the 10th overall pick. This is, of course, assuming their ping-pong balls don’t share the same faith as the Chicago Bulls’ back in 2008. The 10th pick has seen two extremes as it either produces stars like Paul George and CJ McCollum or disappointments like Jimmer Fredette and Thon Maker.

The Suns are in prime position to push for a playoff spot next season. Yes, Devin Booker is at the doorstep of his prime, but it’s former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton who showed he was worth the selection in 2018. In his last 14 games, Ayton averaged 21.2 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game in 34 minutes of action.

While there are still a lot of questions in the mind of Suns fans, one thing is for sure: They need this draft to be a success. Here are three options for the team at number 10.

Nico Mannion – University of Arizona – PG

As an organization, the team is no stranger to drafting or signing UofA players. With Deandre Ayton being the most notable one.

The Suns aren’t desperate for a point guard just yet but having insurance behind Ricky Rubio is key.

Nico Mannion is an athletic point guard who loves to push the ball, something Suns fans are familiar with. Mannion averaged 14.0 points and 5.3 assists per game in his lone season in college. His game can be summarized by his 24 point outing against Penn where he shot 11 for 14 on the field.

However, there are numerous concerns and risks when it comes to the 6-foot-3 point guard. The biggest one would have to be his shooting. In 32 games, Mannion shot an abysmal 39.2 percent from the field and only 32.7 percent from beyond the arc in just a little over five attempts per game. While he is not small in comparison to the other point guards, Mannion needs his shooting to make up for his lack of size.

Tyrese Haliburton – Iowa St. – PG

Another point guard that’s been mocked to the Suns lately is Tyrese Haliburton out of Iowa St. Haliburton is a 6-foot-5 lead guard that bursts onto the scene after a breakout year where he averaged 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 2.5 steals per game, all of which saw an increase compared to his freshman season.

It’s hard to categorize what exactly is Haliburton’s strength. However, if NBA comparisons are to be made, it’s without a doubt best to compare him to a mixture of Lonzo Ball, Dante Exum, and a little bit of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. All these players are lengthy point guards who find a way to score by simply out-crafting and outsmarting their defenders. On the other end of the floor, Haliburton has all the potential in the world to be a plus defender simply because of his length. Lastly, the most impressive thing about him is his passing ability. Against Oregon State, Haliburton dished out 12 assists, showcasing his impressive vision in the half-court game and in the open court as well.

When analyzing prospects, the word “potential” always seems to pop up. The reason is simple: when someone can potentially turn into this or turn into that, it means they still need to work on it.

In Haliburton’s case, he needs to work on his defense. While two steals per game is good for a subpar defender, it’s not almost indicative of someone being a good defender, because steals can come from deflections or bad passes. Haliburton’s fundamentals on defense are okay, it’s his frame that’s a big issue. Right now he needs to add more to his frame or else the NBA’s bigger, stronger guards will simply take advantage of him defensively.

Killian Hayes – France – PG

Without a shadow of a doubt, the premier international point guard this year. Killian Hayes is an 18-year-old point guard out of France who is currently playing for Ratiopharm Ulm in the EuroCup.

Against grown men, Hayes is putting up 12.8 points and 6.2 assists per game in only 26.8 minutes of action.

In comparison to his draft peer Haliburton, Hayes is much bigger in frame. At 6-foot-4 and a little over 180 pounds, Hayes already has the size to play backup in the NBA today. Most experts are salivating at his effortless shooting as he drained 39 percent of his three-point attempts and a little over 90 percent of his free throws. Hayes is already a floor general surrounded by men twice his age, the transition to the NBA should go smoother for him compared to his draft mates. His 6.2 assists-per-game average is also indicative of how good he is as a passer as he is facing much more advanced defensive schemes over in Europe.

Pretty much every weakness Hayes has can be considered nitpicking at this point because of how polished he is. One of the biggest ones is his lack of burst as an athlete; while he has the size, Hayes has yet to show he can finish above the rim and through contact. Another one is he tends to be left-hand dominant, often missing easy passes because he simply cannot use his off-hand to make the easy pass.

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