June 22, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) After a sixth straight season of watching playoff basketball rather than playing it, the Phoenix Suns face a multitude of choices with three first-round picks in Thursday night's draft - No. 4, No. 13 and No. 28.

A trade of some sort is a distinct possibility.

The top two picks are sure things - Ben Simmons of LSU and Brandon Ingram of Duke.

There's perceived to be a significant drop-off in talent after that, and the predictions of what will occur vary accordingly.

What the Suns do with the No. 4 selection is highly dependent on the Boston Celtics' choice at No. 3.

Phoenix's biggest need is for a ''stretch forward,'' a power forward who can make 3-pointers. The top two who fit that description are Croatian Dragan Bender and Washington's Marquese Chriss.

The pair worked out individually for the Suns. But both are just 18 years old and don't appear ready to be significant contributors in the NBA just yet.

Bender is 7-foot-1 and can shoot but weighs just 225 pounds. The 6-foot-9 Chriss' stock has shot up the draft board with his athleticism and shooting touch but he is considered a raw talent. Taking him would be a gamble.

And if the Celtics don't pick point guard Kris Dunn, he might be the Suns' choice.

The 22-year-old from Providence is considered NBA-ready, but he plays point guard, where Phoenix already has Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. A trade of one of the veterans would open an immediate role for Dunn.

Dunn said after his workout in Phoenix that he thought he'd fit in with the Suns just fine.

''They have a lot of great players around there,'' he told azcentral sports. ''I kind of know Devin Booker through the process that I've been going through. He's been out in LA and I got to bump into him. He said it's a great place to live at. Great food there. I think, if they did select me, I think I could blend in.''

General manager Ryan McDonough hit the jackpot last season when he chose Booker with the No. 13 pick. Booker, a designated shooter off the bench at Kentucky, was just about the only bright spot for the Suns last season. Charismatic and talented, he made the NBA all-rookie team and has become the face of the franchise.

The possibilities with the No. 13 pick this year are aplenty. The scenario changed Wednesday when Atlanta acquired the No. 12 selection in a three-team trade that sent Jeff Teague to Indiana.

Among the names that show up as No. 13 in mock drafts are power forward Juan Hernangomez of Spain, forward-center Henry Ellison of Marquette, shooting guard Malachi Richardson of Syracuse, point guard Dejounte Murray of Washington.

The No. 28 pick may well be a foreign player who will spend next season or longer in Europe, as the Suns have done with Bogdan Bogdonavic, who could finally join the team this year.

The Suns are already very young and McDonough has said he doesn't see all three first-round draft picks competing at this year's training camp.

You May Like