Although many Phoenix Suns fans are sure to be disappointed with the team narrowly missing the playoffs, they should also be extremely proud of the efforts of a team that, before the season, was projected to end up in the lottery. To add to the current upward trend the Suns are on, general manager Ryan McDonough has stockpiled three first-round picks in the upcoming 2014 NBA draft.
Phoenix was just one more playmaker away from making the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference this season.
With this draft class being regarded as one of the deepest in recent history, it is quite reasonable to think the Suns could land at least one playmaker with the ability to come in right away and make key contributions to their roster.
According to draftexpress.com, the Suns currently have the No. 14, No. 17 and No. 27 overall picks.
According to SB Nation's, Dave King, McDonough recently said, “I think it’s unlikely that we’ll bring in three rookies to the Suns.”
Phoenix would ideally love to make a trade for a top-flight player, but it is likely the Suns will bring in at least one player with one of their first-round picks.
So with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the best and most realistic options for the Phoenix Suns in the 2014 NBA draft.
Doug McDermott: Creighton, Senior Small Forward
Doug McDermott will go down as one of the greatest scorers in college basketball history, finishing fifth all time in points scored during his illustrious career at Creighton.
This past season he averaged 26.7 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting a blazing 45 percent from downtown. McDermott is not the best athlete and his defensive limitations will be tested in the NBA, but he is bound to have success in the league as a lights-out three-point shooter.
Not only does he just shoot it from deep, but he can go around defenders, pull up for mid-range jumpers or even take it into the post and execute a Dirk Nowitizki-like one-legged fadeaway. For the Suns, he would help tremendously with floor spacing and the ability to put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the floor, most importantly from beyond the arc.
James Young: Kentucky, Freshman Shooting Guard/Small Forward
James Young had an up-and-down year as a freshman at Kentucky. He started out great, then hit a rough patch in the middle of the season, but then really hit his stride in the NCAA tournament.
He can shoot it from deep with a beautiful left-handed stroke, and he really excels in attacking the basket. He is relentless when driving through the lane and is great at finishing at the rim or drawing the foul.
For Phoenix, he would be a young, athletic player on the wing who can really score and get out and run in transition.
Rodney Hood: Duke, Sophomore Shooting Guard/Small Forward
At 6’8” and 215 pounds, Rodney Hood has great size for an NBA wing. Although he was slightly overshadowed by Jabari Parker at Duke this past season, Hood is certainly no slouch and can really fill it up.
He averaged 16.1 points while shooting 42 percent from three-point range this season. Hood is a smooth lefty who can shoot it from deep or go around defenders and attack the rim.
He’ll need to improve his defense a bit at the next level, but Hood could really help in Phoenix. He could very well be that additional scorer who puts Phoenix over the top.
T.J. Warren: N.C. State, Sophomore Small Forward
T.J. Warren is a big, strong and tough small forward with a great feel for the game. At 6’8” and 230 pounds he thrives scoring inside, driving to the whole and floating the ball over defenders.
He was a prolific scorer at N.C. State, averaging 24.9 points per game. He is also a good rebounder and defender on the wing, averaging 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game this season.
For the Suns, Warren would provide a physical presence on the wing. He needs to improve his outside shot, but he provides great scoring ability on the inside by driving the ball to the hole.
Nik Stauskas: Michigan, Sophomore Shooting Guard
Nik Stauskas was the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year this past season and may have been the most improved overall player in the country. He averaged 17.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 44 percent from downtown this season at Michigan.
He is arguably the very best shooter in the draft, with a super quick release and the ability to knock down shots from pretty much anywhere on the floor. He is deceptively athletic and also possesses a very good handle with the ability to run the point when needed.
He would thrive in Phoenix, providing a tremendous three-point threat as well as the ability to score off the bounce and find open players when he’s defended.
P.J. Hairston: NBA Developmental League, Shooting Guard
At 6’5” and 220 pounds, P.J. Hairston is an ultra tough and physical guard who can light it up from deep. He has excellent range on his jumper and is also a very good finisher at the rim.
Hairston averaged 21.8 points per game in the D-League, proving himself to be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. Although he has had problems in the past with getting kicked out of North Carolina, it is believed he has matured and is ready to become a full-time professional.
He would do very good things for Phoenix, a team that needs one more piece to get over the hump. Hairston is experienced and brings an NBA-ready scoring mentality that would be able to shine in Phoenix.
Kyle Anderson: UCLA, Sophomore Point Forward
Kyle Anderson is easily the most unique player in this year’s draft class. At 6’9” and 235 pounds, Anderson has the ability to play every position on the floor except for center.
His stat line at UCLA this season was ridiculous with averages of 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He has a very nice mid-range game and has greatly improved his three-point shot.
He’s not the most athletic player, but Anderson could possibly be great in Phoenix. He would bring in tremendous versatility and playmaking abilities. Phoenix needs at least one more playmaker, and although Anderson is not the typical dynamite athlete you would think of, he could be a very unique asset in Phoenix.
Cleanthony Early: Wichita State, Senior Small Forward
Several of the players on this list are similar in playing styles and abilities, so it really depends on who the team individually falls in love with when it comes down to drafting one of them. Cleanthony Early is another very solid option who could come in and contribute in Phoenix.
At 6’8” and 215 pounds, Early has ideal size for an NBA wing. He is a versatile player who can score on the inside as well as beyond the arc. He is very athletic and perhaps the best attribute he brings is his defense.
Early is a very tough player with a good motor that allows him to really excel on defense. He could be a steal for Phoenix if it selects him. Being able to come in and score in different ways as well as become a defensive stopper is something the Suns could certainly use.