Thanks to the ever changing ways to dissuade teams from tanking-not competing in games to increase odds to land the top prospects in the NBA Draft- this season’s worst team can’t be too sure of landing the top pick.
A few years back, the team with the worst record in the league had a 25% chance of grabbing the coveted pick but that is no longer the case. 14% is the new number and the worst team shares the same percentage with the second worst and third worst teams.
As such, New York Knicks chances-though good- of landing Zion Williamson in this year’s Draft, are not all but set in stone like it used to only months ago. Though the Knicks had just 17 wins in 82 games, they could end up with the third pick and forced to choose between RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish which is far off the team’s projections for next season.
With the second worst record in the just ended regular season, Phoenix Suns has an equal chance of landing the biggest draw in the draft-Williamson.
But Phoenix should resist picking Zion should the side end up with first overall pick mainly due to his ill fit with the team.
For several seasons, the Suns have passed on drafting Point Guards after depleting the position with shocking moves for a team that had one too many Point Guards at a point in time.
Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Tyler Ulis and Brandon Knight played the Point position in Phoenix before getting moved to other teams.
With a nucleus of DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker, Phoenix needs to get a floor general and then some in this draft.
Projected as the third pick, Ja Morant is everything the Suns need to get back to playoff contention in a couple of years and title hunts in four years. The former Murray State University Guard is athletic, has a pass friendly game and can score in different ways.
The 6 foot 3 inch Guard averaged 24.5 points and 10 assists; his assist averages led the entire National College Division I. His energetic displays on offense could be easily harnessed to great effect on the defensive end way more than the 1.8 steals he generated in College. After showing his skills as a facilitator on top another excellent scoring display this past season, Booker is bound to have an All Star call up next season with another potent offensive weapon in the backcourt.
There are doubts about Morant’s ability to take care of the ball after averaging 5.2 turnovers per game this season on top of skepticism about his “small school background”. Guards who played at Murray State-Cameron Payne, Isaiah Canaan- haven’t particularly lit up the NBA and these factors have played into doubts about Morant’s chances of transitioning successfully to the world’s premier basketball league.
Newly installed Manager Jesse Jones could look to make a big statement after getting the job permanently once this season ended. Tyler Johnson is a solid veteran but is not considered part of the team’s future beyond next season when his contract ends. Signing Morant and paying top dollar to retain Small Forward Kelly Oubre should be Phoenix’s priority. Retaining Oubre is important since he is an upgrade on Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges and TJ Warren at Small Forward.
Williamson is the flashy pick, the one who will sell out tickets in the desert in minutes and get the Talking Stick Resort Arena bouncing with excitement after expected explosive plays from the phenom. However, Zion’s limitations as a shooter limit his potential effectiveness alongside Ayton and possibly Dragan Bender and Richaun Holmes. Williamson is best suited in an undersized lineup that plays him at Power Forward and close to the rim rather than further away from the rim.
Barrett’s game is well rounded to fit in Phoenix but the Suns have a healthy collection of Small Forwards to pass on him. Cam Reddish’s shooting is too streaky to incite much excitement for a long trodden team in need of instant boost. Reddish could wind up with Memphis Grizzlies as the second coming of Rudy Gay and develop into a better player alongside Jaren Jackson Jnr.
After passing on Kris Dunn and Jamal Murray in 2016, De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jnr. in 2017, Luka Doncic and Trae Young in 2018, Phoenix Suns can’t mess up its need at Point Guard by picking Zion Williamson over Ja Morant.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter