The Suns recently took Dragan Bender and Marquese Chris in the draft and seem to have gotten a steal in last year’s draft with Devin Booker. In the years before that, they often haven’t made the best choices. I look at the worst NBA draft mistakes of the Suns and rank the top 5.
5. NBA Draft 2008
The Suns took Robin Lopez with the 15th pick in the draft. Lopez has had a respectable career in the league but hasn’t ever been a great player. He has never averaged more than 11 points per game and had a career-high 8.5 rebounds per game in 2013-14. He has career averages of just 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Honorable Mentions: Roy Hibbert, Courtney Lee, Serge Ibaka
Steal: Goran Dragic #47
Phoenix should have taken DeAndre Jordan, who went #35. Jordan has been much better over his career than Lopez and has become one of the best defensive players in the league. Jordan has an All-NBA First Team and Second team as well, and the NBA All-Defensive First team twice to his name.
He has also lead the league in rebounding twice. While he has only averaged 8.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game over his career, he has increased his stat output every year he has been in the league. Over the last three seasons, he has averaged over 13 rebounds and 10 points per game.
Jordan still has many years left in his prime and will continue to be a strong defensive force in the league for many years. He is obviously a much better choice than Lopez.
4. NBA Draft 2011
The Suns took Markieff Morris at #13. Morris posted solid numbers in his 5 years in Phoenix, with career averages of 11.5 points and 5.4 rebounds. He had a career-high 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in 2014-15. Morris has had a solid career, but there was a better choice in this draft.
Honorable Mentions: Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson
Steal: Isaiah Thomas #60
The Suns should have picked Kawhi Leonard. He would have filled the void at the small forward position the team has had over the past few years. Leonard was the 2014 Finals MVP, a 2016 All-Star starter and First Team member, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and All-Defensive First Team member, and a member of the 2014 All-Defensive Second Team. He was also the 2015 steals leader.
Leonard has career averages of 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and averaged 21.2 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. He finished second in MVP voting in 2016 to Steph Curry and has become the Spurs franchise player.
Kawhi is obviously much better than Morris and should have been the Suns pick.
3. NBA Draft 2009
The Suns took Earl Clark with the 14th pick this year. Clark played only 60 games with the Suns over a two-year span before being traded to the Magic. He has a career average of 4.4 points and 3 rebounds while only playing 14 minutes per game. Clark never panned out to be what the team thought they would be getting.
Honorable Mentions: Jrue Holiday, DeMarre Carrol, Danny Green
Steal: Patty Mills #55
Phoenix should have taken Jeff Teague, who went 19th. Teague is a one-time All-Star and helped lead the Hawks to the top seed in the east in 2015. He has become a very good guard in the league, capable of running any offense.
Teague has career averages of 12.1 points and 5.2 assists while being in the 15 point and 7 assist range every season over the past five years. Teague obviously would have been a much better pick than Clark, who isn’t even in the league anymore.
2. NBA Draft 2007
The Suns took Rudy Fernandez with the 24th pick in this draft and immediately traded his rights to Portland for cash. Fernandez has a career average of 9.1 points in 24 minutes per game. He played three seasons in Portland and one in Denver, appearing in a total of 249 games with ten starts.
Honorable Mention: Arron Afflalo, Aaron Brooks
Steal: Marc Gasol #48
The Suns should have taken Marc Gasol with this pick, instead of taking the cash for Fernandez. Gasol is a two-time All-Star and won defensive player of the year in 2013. He has been on one All-NBA First team and the Second team as well as the All-Defensive second team.
Gasol has averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game over his career. Had the Suns taken him, they would have had a franchise player instead of the cash they got for Rudy Fernandez.
1. NBA Draft 2013
Phoenix took Alex Len with the 5th pick in this draft. While Len hasn’t been as terrible as the first pick, Anthony Bennett, has been, he hasn’t been great. Len has averaged 6.5 points and 6.1 rebounds. He hasn’t been the great player that the Suns thought they would be getting when they took him.
Honorable Mention: CJ McCollum, Steven Adams
Steal: Rudy Gobert #27
Phoenix should have taken Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went 15th. The “Greek-Freak” has only averaged 12.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his career, but he has increased his points, rebounds, assists, and minutes every year he has been in the league.
He averaged almost 17 points and 8 rebounds per game, ending the season as the Bucks primary ball-handler. Giannis is freaky athletic and has been called Russel Westbrook in a 6’11” body. He’s become the franchise centerpiece for the Bucks and is becoming a star in the NBA.
Giannis has become a much better player than Len is, and is a franchise centerpiece. The Suns could have had him.