Suns 2016 Draft Recap
The 2016 NBA Draft has come and gone and several teams were aggressive in trades, one of them being the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix went into the draft with three first round picks and a second rounder. The assumption was that they would use one of those later picks to draft and stash a European player, like they did with Bogdan Bogdanovic two years ago. By the end of the draft however, Bogdanovic and a total of three picks had been traded.
The Suns took Dragan Bender with the 4th overall pick, an 18 year old 7’1 player from Croatia. Bender is raw but has a lot of upside, and has been playing pro basketball in Europe since he was 15. He most recently played for Macabi Tel Aviv.
This was not a pick that surprised a lot of people, as Phoenix currently has no power forwards on their roster. What they did next however was more bold than they have been in recent draft history. Having picks 13 and 28, they made a deal with Sacramento for the draft rights to Marquese Chriss whom they took at #8. They also included Bogdanovic and a 2020 second round pick.
Chriss is a 6’10 forward who played one year at Washington and is a tremendous athlete. He averaged 13.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in 24.9 minutes in his only college season, and like Bender is also just 18 years old. These two picks give Phoenix two chances of finding a future star at power forward. Chriss is considered the most NBA ready while Bender is more of a project. It was reported that Chriss had some maturity issues, but gave a very professional interview at the combine.
With their last pick of the draft, the Suns got a potential steal at #34 in Tyler Ulis. Ulis is a point guard from Kentucky and joins four other guards on the Suns roster from the same alma mater. At 5’9 and 149 lbs he is small but mighty, averaging 17.3 points and 7 assists in his second season as a Wildcat. Ulis is a great ball handler and will probably see some time in the D-League, unless one or more of the Suns’ point guards are dealt. Either way, he will gain valuable experience his rookie year.
With these three picks and money to spend in free agency, Phoenix looks to break their 6 year playoff drought sooner rather than later.
Kevin McQuade covers the NBA for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @kmcquade9.