NBA Rumors: Post-2018 Lottery Draft Buzz on Suns, Trae Young and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 16, 2018

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  Josh Jackson #20 of the Phoenix Suns and General Manager of the Phoenix Suns, Ryan McDonough pose for a photo after getting the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft during the NBA Draft Lottery on May 15, 2018 at The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Gary Dineen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are on the clock.

Their NBA-worst 21-61 record paid off in a big way Tuesday night as the draft lottery broke in their favor and delivered the franchise its first-ever No. 1 overall pick.

The Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks improved upon their pre-draft odds to snatch the second and third selections, respectively, setting up the draft board as follows behind them:

The rumor mill is already buzzing with team and prospect nuggets, so let's dive into the latest.

               

Suns Undecided at the Top

Before Phoenix had even moved into pole position, it seemed certain the No. 1 pick would come down to Arizona big man Deandre Ayton or Real Madrid playmaker Luka Doncic.

That the Suns will be the ones making this call only adds to its intrigue. There's an obvious proximity to Ayton, who played two hours away in Tucson, but the organization's new head skipper, Serbian Igor Kokoskov, worked directly with Doncic as head coach of last summer's EuroBasket champion, Slovenia.

ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony hears the Ayton/Doncic race remains wide-open: 

Phoenix has enough roster holes that either player would address a need.

The Suns were last in three-point percentage (33.4) and tied for 28th in assists (21.3 per game), so they could use a perimeter player like Doncic. But their centers ranked poorly in scoring (13.8, 27th) and rebounding (13.6, 21st), which wouldn't make it easy to pass on a player with Ayton's production, physical gifts and potential.

"We're going to draft whoever we think the best player is," Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said before the lottery, per AZCentral.com's Scott Bordow. "...Doncic will certainly be in that mix. But Ayton and a few other guys will, as well."

               

Hawks Are Bagley Fans

Atlanta had the fourth-best odds to win the lottery and walked away with the No. 3 pick. That's a victory in itself, but the Hawks might be happier than most in this situation.

Maybe some would lament likely falling outside of the Ayton/Doncic range. Atlanta apparently has a different take.

The organization is reportedly high on Marvin Bagley III, per Givony, and ready to pounce on him or Doncic if he slips:

While there are some concerns over where and how effectively Bagley will defend in the NBA, he'd be quite the consolation prize.

The Duke freshman was a nightly supplier of 21 points and 11.1 rebounds during his lone collegiate season, when he converted a blistering 61.4 percent of his field goals. He even flashed some floor-spacing (23 threes at a 39.7 percent clip), along with copious amounts of athleticism and energy.

That's perhaps why Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk sounds content to use the pick as opposed to packaging it in a trade.

"If somebody wants to make us a great offer, we will listen," Schlenk said, per Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Right now, we are happy to pick [No.] 3 and we know we are going to get a good player."

                  

Trae Young's Shoe Market Is Booming

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  NBA Draft Prospect, Trae Young poses for a portrait before the NBA Draft Lottery on May 15, 2018 at The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using
David Sherman/Getty Images

Few, if any, talent evaluators treat Trae Young like the top prospect in this class. Givony and Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman both see the former Oklahoma Sooners standout being the sixth player selected.

But shift the conversation from on-court potential to marketability, and suddenly Young shoots to the top.

"A handful of sneaker brands...considers the former Oklahoma guard the most marketable player in the NBA draft class of 2018," ESPN.com's Nick DePaula wrote. "...Young and his group will listen to sneaker endorsement pitches from companies beginning next week in Los Angeles. Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Puma are all expected to present."

No, you didn't read that wrong—Puma is in the running.

"This is their first real foray back into basketball since 1998 with Vince Carter," Omar Wilkes, one of Young's Octagon agents, told DePaula. "The possibility to be the seminal piece to re-establish that category for Puma is what's enticing."

Young might have the same "average Joe" appeal that has endeared Stephen Curry to fans across the globe. Neither is especially big, long or explosive. Both make their biggest marks as outside sharpshooters with seemingly limitless range and as playmakers with creativity and pizzazz.

Like Curry, Young was also wildly productive in college. The freshman became the first NCAA Division I player to lead the country in both points (27.4) and assists (8.7) in a single season. He had four games of 40-plus points, 21 with 26 points or better and nine outings with at least five three-point splashes.

Young isn't a sure thing as a pro prospect, but his ceiling and style are both electric enough to excite the entire sports apparel industry.

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