The Phoenix Suns were set for their fourth straight top-10 pick entering Thursday’s NBA Draft. Just hours before the festivities began, they traded away the No. 6 selection to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the No. 11 one, as well as power forward Dario Saric.
While they bolstered their frontcourt by teaming up the 6-foot-10 Saric with last year’s top pick Deandre Ayton, they decided to go with Cameron Johnson out of North Carolina.
In his last year at Chapel Hill, the 6-foot-9 forward averaged 16.9 points per game and is deadly from deep at nearly 46 percent.
Let’s see where he fits on the starting lineup and roster.
Phoenix Suns Roster & Starting Lineup After 1st Round & Dario Saric Trade
*Notates expected starter
C: Deandre Ayton*, Richaun Holmes
PF: Dario Saric*, Dragan Bender
SF: Mikal Bridges*, Cameron Johnson, Josh Jackson, George King
SG: Devin Booker*, Jamal Crawford, Jimmer Fredette, Troy Daniels
PG: Tyler Johnson*, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo
Cameron Johnson probably won’t be a starter right out of the gate, but should Phoenix decide to pick up the tempo, he will be a great option. He played for the famously fast Tar Heels and thrived. With him, Booker and Bridges on the floor, the Suns can heat up the twine from all over the floor.
Saric will complement Ayton very well on the interior. The former Timberwolve big chipped in 10.6 points per game while shooting over 36 percent from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Ayton is strictly a post player at this point. He acquitted himself well as a rookie by averaging a double-double at 16.3 points and 10.3 boards.
Future Roster Moves for Phoenix Suns
At this point, Phoenix shouldn’t overextend its resources. They have $30 million in cap space, but after sporting a 19-63 record last season, no quality players are seeking a spot in the desert at this time.
Rather than reach in free agency, they should focus on 1-year contracts and continue to build assets for bigger deals down the line.
With that said, they can attempt to lock down a quality point guard to replace Tyler Johnson. Melton is a quality backup as a defender, so finding a distributor and shooter to pair with Booker is key.
Arizona Sports 98.7 suggested that the Suns pursue either Darren Collison or Ricky Rubio.
Collison is a steady two-way player who has been playing some of the best basketball of his career for the Indiana Pacers the past two seasons. Shooting 46.7% from the field and 40.7% at 3-point range, the 31-year-old can be efficient in his limited opportunities to score while playmaking for others at 6.0 assists per game…
…The unrestricted free agent of the four that is expected to garner the most interest is Rubio. The 28-year-old is a strong defensive presence and one of the league’s best passers, averaging 7.7 assists a night over eight seasons. Rubio, however, is not known as a shooter and is not a reliable source of offensive creation despite 12.7 points per game last year for the Utah Jazz.
Collison is currently the better value, as he made $10 million with the Pacers last season. While his production suggests a raise is in order, his shooting already makes him a better value than Rubio.
With that said, the 31-year old should not be signed for anything more than three years. Anything more than that is going to be a drag on the payroll down the line.