Just who the Suns select at No. 4 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft remains to be seen, yet one thing is certain, the team fell out of the top-3 after having a 55.8 percent chance of landing a pick within the top-3. The Suns had the second-worst record in the Association, yet fell two spots in the draft due to the ping pong balls.
Interestingly enough, the Suns had a 31.9 percent chance at landing the fourth overall pick, the greatest odds at landing any number pick within the top-5.
Now that the ping pong ball dust has settled, it's time to explore what to do with the fourth pick in the draft.
Assuming the Boston Celtics go with the “take the best player off the board” approach, Markelle Fultz should go at number one overall, giving the Celtics a young guard to either groom off the bench or pair with Isaiah Thomas from the get-go. Fultz has the potential to develop into an All-NBA caliber point guard, according to numerous reports involving many scouts and those involved in NBA front offices.
As a result, this puts the Los Angeles Lakers in a position to select UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball with the second pick in the draft. Many insiders believe that the Lakers will take Ball over any other prospect and pair him in the backcourt with D’Angelo Russell and solidify their backcourt of the future. The Lakers have also been rumored to be “enamored” with selecting Lonzo Ball when they’re on the clock.
There is no reason as to why the Lakers would go with a prospect like Josh Jackson when the team selected forward Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. This will be the Lakers third consecutive year with the second overall pick in the draft, assuming new front office hires Magic Johnson and ex-NBA agent Rob Pelinka decide to keep the pick.
After leapfrogging the Suns for the third pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers have a multitude of options with their pick. Keep in mind, the 76ers will get the No. 1 overall pick from the 2016 NBA Draft, Ben Simmons, back next season after suffering an acute fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot and was held out entirely during the most recent campaign.
The direction the 76ers choose to go will undoubtedly have an impact on the way the Suns brass will draft. Philadelphia could take Josh Jackson and pair him with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Dario Saric, creating an intriguing front court, or they can go with a point guard.
After Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr. are next in line off the draft board at the point guard position.
For the sake of what makes the most sense, let us assume the 76ers take De’Aaron Fox, who’s just signed a multi-year shoe deal with Nike. According to the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy, both Fox and Smith Jr. are in play for the 76ers with the third overall pick.
This leaves the Suns with the option of drafting Jackson, pairing him with a core of Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, T.J. Warren, Alan Williams, Alex Len, and Tyler Ulis. Combo guard Brandon Knight is still on the team, but it remains to be seen what the franchise does in terms of moving Knight or keeping him as a part of their future.
The consensus amongst Suns fans is that the franchise should aim at selecting now former Kansas forward Josh Jackson with their first-round pick, if he is still available, that is. Jackson provides the team with a prospect who can develop into a two-way star and can come in right away on a Suns team that ranked third worst in defense this season.
Jackson provides the Suns, a team ranked third last in defensive rating in the Association this past season, with much added defensive capabilities right away.
DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz had this to say about Jackson on the defensive end:
Nevertheless, it is Jackson's defense and overall competitiveness that is one of his most attractive traits. He's a fiery guy who has been a two-way player his entire career, and showed the ability to guard anywhere from 1-4 in college. Jackson takes great pride in his ability to shut down opponents, and does an outstanding job of sitting down in a stance, sliding his feet and locking up players on the perimeter with his lateral quickness, often drawing charges. He's a physical player who throws his body around and isn't afraid to mix things up despite his lanky frame. Even if he isn't the longest player around, he gets in the passing lanes frequently with his quickness and anticipation skills, and also rebounds and blocks shots prolifically with outstanding timing. He'll need to get stronger to handle the bigger and more experienced players he'll encounter at times in the NBA, and is a little spastic at times gambling and getting lost off the ball, but his combination of intensity, athleticism and instincts leaves a great deal of room for optimism in his upside on this end of the floor. - Source: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Josh-Jackson-7239/ ©DraftExpress
If Josh Jackson can fulfill his sky-high potential, the Suns would have a two-way superstar on their hands, a la a Shawn Marion-esque player with a higher basketball IQ and passing skill. The talent and potential are there for something special.
With the reports of the 76ers intrigued by De’Aaron Fox, it’s hard not to believe that the franchise won’t take him. However, let’s assume that it’s all a smokescreen and they take Josh Jackson instead at No. 3 overall. What road do the Suns take?
Enter De’Aaron Fox.
John Wall, fellow University of Kentucky alum, believes that De’Aaron Fox will have a better career than Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball.
A lot of people say it’s bias because he’s from Kentucky, but I think De’Aaron Fox might end up being the best point guard out of that class," he said. "He reminds me of myself a lot, just a lefty.
Interestingly, Wall is a common NBA comparison for Fox. Just looking at their eerily similar college numbers adds to this.
Eric Bledsoe, 27, realistically isn’t going to be a part of the franchise’s timeline given his age. By the time the Suns are ready to compete, Bledsoe will be in his 30s. Also a University of Kentucky alum, the athletic Bledsoe would be able to groom Fox into a dynamic point guard that is found on every modern NBA roster today. There have been reports that Fox is the better point guard prospect in the draft over the likes of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Dennis Smith Jr. Allowing him to learn the reigns of floor general while in an environment that promotes fundamentals and growth, while not overly stressing the importance of “win now,” Fox would be able to reach his John Wall-esque potential.
DraftExpress' Mike Schmitz and Matt Kamalsky had this to say regarding De'Aaron Fox's physical attributes:
Fox's physical tools play a key role in his offensive ability at this point in his career, as he showed the ability to get to his spots on the floor effortlessly last season. Jet quick with the ball, Fox is a blur in the open floor, generating 31% of his possessions in Transition and finishing the year ranked first among power conference players, scoring 5.9 points per game on the break according to Synergy Sports Technology.
In the half court, Fox's speed is just as impactful, as 55% of his shots came around the basket despite opposing defenses loading up to defend his drives. Blessed with tremendous burst that makes his hesitation dribbles and quick crossovers all the more effective, Fox was regularly able to simply able to step back, measure his defender, and find his way deep into the paint off the dribble, even without a ball screen. He figures to rank among the league's most elusive guards from the moment he checks into his first NBA game.
Aside from his speed and the pressure it allows him to put on opposing defenses, Fox is a bit of a mixed bag offensively. The lefty finishes above the rim, when he can find a clean route to the basket, has soft touch on his floater, displays impressive body control at times finishing around the rim both in transition and the half court, and shot a very serviceable 59% finishing inside last season overall, but is also prone to driving into brick walls, could stand to improve his right hand, and will get bumped off his route to the rim at times against physical defenders limiting his effectiveness to a degree. - Source: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/De-Aaron-Fox-72510/ ©DraftExpress
However, one of the glaring issues with taking Fox at No. 4 overall, is the logjam that it would inevitably create at the point guard position. Eric Bledsoe, Tyler Ulis, Brandon Knight (can be moved to shooting guard), and De’Aaron Fox creates a University of Kentucky alum guard logjam that the Suns were familiar with a few seasons ago with Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe, and Goran Dragic. Before injuries, minutes in the backcourt came at a premium. Adding another guard to the mix will shake the rotation up even more.
There are numerous avenues the Phoenix Suns can take with the fourth pick in the draft. Trades can be made, the pick can be moved, or an under-the-radar prospect wows the front office just enough to warrant a selection. Anything is possible. Going in either direction with Jackson or Fox nets the Suns a prospect that will most certainly help the franchise return to its former glory as a Western Conference powerhouse.