The GM of the Phoenix Suns, Ryan McDonough, has been decidedly vague about what the Suns plan to with their first overall pick; saying both that they are open to trading the pick away, and also saying that there is an “overwhelming likelihood” that they will keep the pick. However, one thing has remained consistent; McDonough says that if the Suns were to trade the first overall pick away, it’d have to be for a superstar. And considering their current roster, there are definitely a few different trades that are plausible for the Suns to accept for their pick.
5. Karl-Anthony Towns
At first sight, this seems like a crazy move for the Timberwolves. I mean, the big KAT was an All-Star this year and averaged 21.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. In his third year, the Timberwolves big man is already in the conversation for the best center in the league. Seems nuts right?
Booker and Towns already have a great friendship, and they already have chemistry together considering their time at Kentucky. The combination of Booker and Towns, with a young core like the Suns have, would be absolutely lethal to the league. Booker averaged almost 25 points per game this year, combined with a career-high 4.7 assists per game. Both players played better this year than they ever have before and it looks like they are only going up.
However, the Suns aren’t the only team that would benefit from this trade. The Timberwolves would also be given the first overall pick, and with the roster that they have assembled, there are a few different players that could keep this Wolves team at the levels of a playoff team. First, if the Wolves wanted to go the route of immediately replacing the hole Towns would leave, they could always draft DeAndre Ayton out of Arizona, who may prove to be a better bigman than KAT down the line.
However, Ayton isn’t the only player that the Wolves could consider taking first overall. The likes of Real Madrid’s Luke Doncic out of the Euroleague has also been highly-touted, and even though he has spent minimal time in the US as he’s still playing professionally in Europe, many teams in the league would be chomping at the bit to add the 19-year-old to their roster.
4. Kyrie Irving
This is another one that, on the surface, seems insane. Why in the world would Boston want to get rid of Irving? Wouldn’t they be unstoppable next year? Yes, they would. But there are a few things to consider.
First is that a Suns backcourt of Irving and Booker would immediately be in the argument for the best backcourt in the league. Not to mention the mentoring that Irving could give to Booker would be invaluable. If Irving stayed healthy, this trade would launch the Suns not only into playoff contention, but also into WCF contention against teams like the Rockets and the Warriors.
This trade would also be hugely beneficial to the Celtics, who are looking to have a team with a healthy Gordon Hayward next year. Not only that, but Boston has an outstanding young core in Tatum, Brown, and Rozier; a core that did so much more than anyone ever thought this season. This team almost beat LeBron and the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. With a lineup that has 3 players in their starting lineup with under 3 years experience, and all of whom, including Hayward and excluding Horford, have at least 10 more years in the league if they stay healthy.
After this last series, Boston is going to take a long, hard look at the cap space Irving is taking up, and they’re going to compare it to their prospects in the draft; and Ayton would not only be able to learn from Horford, but would be able to compliment his style too, as the Celtics could roll out an inside-out frontcourt lineup similar to the ones we’ve seen with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in Cleveland, but on a far greater scale.
3. John Wall
The Wizards aren’t a horrible team this year. For the last four seasons now they have been averaging about 43-45 wins a year. In the East, that will normally be enough to get you to the playoffs. But if the Wizards hope to win on a bigger scale, there needs to be a little bit of a shakeup. And that could come by shifting a little more to the younger side and taking a No. 1 overall pick to stardom.
Wall would help the Suns in the same way Irving would, mentoring and producing great numbers. A Devin Booker/John Wall duo would be a serious wrecking ball, and with how the game is played today, a team with a great backcourt seems to be more valuable than a team with a great frontcourt. This would be a duo set for a deep postseason run.
2. Damian Lillard
This trade is similar to the Wall one, in the sense that it would require the team to go through a small losing period before being able to become dominant again. But if things play out for this Doncic kid like they are supposed to, and the Blazers grab him this year, they could become one of the better teams in the West.
The duo of McCollum/Lillard suffers from the same question Lowry/DeRozan suffer, whose team is it anyways? By trading Damian Lillard and bringing in a talented bigman like DeAndre Ayton, the Blazers would seemingly answer that question, giving the reigns of the team to McCollum, while also freeing themselves of the contract they’d have to sign to keep Jursuf Nurkic and building around a center with far greater potential.
1. Kawhi Leonard
Following the rumors surrounding Kawhi Leonard, he seems kind of like The Clash, because he’s wondering should he stay or should he go. There has been a cloud of mystery surrounding whether he’s hurt, or upset, or just simply wants out. And honestly, considering the decline they will have with their talent over the next few years, the Spurs should look to do a small, two or three year rebuild and come back stronger than ever.
If the Suns got Leonard, they would be put into a position to win immediately, which is what their fanbase wants. The combo of Booker and Leonard would be a difficult one to face, especially if they pick up someone like J.J. Redick, Avery Bradley, or Isaiah Thomas this offseason. A starting three of Thomas, Booker, and Leonard would pose a lot of problems to teams with less consistent backcourts, or with less than admirable defense, much like the Cavs during the regular season.
And the Spurs, they’d get a chance to bring a player with the talent of DeAndre Ayrton, a player who has been likened pre-draft to Spurs’ legend and MVP David Robinson. If they don’t want to go the route of a bigman, they could always draft Luka Doncic, something which wouldn’t be a surprise given the Spurs affinity for European players with sound fundamentals. And whoever they bring in would find themselves under the guidance of one of the best coaches in the league, Gregg Popovich. San Antonio is a promising destination for the young players in this year’s draft. But not only that, the Spurs would also benefit from some new faces on the floor. It would give the Spurs a chance to rebuild over the next few years, as opposed to if they keep Leonard, which would place them around the middle of the pack once Parker, Gasol, and Ginobli leave.
However you look at it, the Suns are positioned in a great place. Considering that this is the first time the team has a first overall pick, whether they use it in the draft or in a blockbuster trade, they could not have picked a better year to begin the process of becoming one of the better teams in the West.