Part 2 of the NBA draft preview will assess the potential picks four to six. The Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic are all at differing stages in their rebuild phase.
With clear holes in their respective line-ups it is key for these three teams to select player that fill their biggest holes.
As stated in my previous part of the draft preview, the Suns were by far the unluckiest team in the lottery. Phoenix spent the last month of the NBA season tanking playing their youngest as much as they could (Tyler Ulis, 34th pick in the 2016 draft averaged an astonishing 40 minutes a game).
Unfortunately their tanking did not pay off with the Suns slipping drastically to fourth. Fortunately, on the contrary, the Suns are in an optimistic position. If the top three picks go as predicted the Suns will have a bounty of options available to them.
Phoenix ranked 30th in opponents points per game and 28th in defensive rating. Their clear lack of a lock down perimeter defender was evident as future key pieces T.J Warren and Devin Booker showing poor defensive capabilities in their years in the league.
Josh Jackson, a 6’8 freshman from Kansas is seen to have the greatest two-way upside in the draft. A defensive stalwart in his single year at Kansas, Jackson has the size (6’8), length (6’10) and weight (203 lbs) to play three positions in the pros from day one.
Jackson will most likely play small forward the majority of his time in his rookie year but Bill Self showcased his ability to play as a big. Although he is already a capable defender his offensive game has a way to go.
Jacksons shooting mechanics and poor variety off the pick and roll makes him a clear liability. In addition his lack of cutting skills subjects to him to a spot up shooter and transition player; a roll he consistently struggled with.
However, Jackson fits in perfectly next to Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Marquese Chriss with the potential to create a defensive scheme that is able to switch at all positions and is lethal in transition.
Opposingly, Phoenix may opt to select Duke forward Jayson Tatum. Tatum is on the opposite spectrum in comparison to Jackson. A fluid offensive game with limited defensive upside, Tatum has the game that mimics former NBA star Danny Granger.
Tatum seamlessly is able to change pace, score in the post and use advanced footwork to create space making him a tantalising go-to scoring option. Booker and Tatum could be a dangerous one-two punch though the clear defensive holes Phoenix have needs to be attended too.
The Kings overhaul, resulting in a DeMarcus Cousins trade, has signified another rebuild project. Eleven years out of the playoffs and the Kings will be desperate to accelerate their rebuild. The Kings are in need of a playmaker as well as a small forward.
De’Aaron Fox and Jayson Tatum provide differing skillsets both of which the Kings need. De’Aaron Fox’s stock has been increasingly rising since his thirty nine point outburst against UCLA standout Lonzo Ball. Fox’s size and speed is an unlikely match that gives him a two way ceiling similar to Washington’s John Wall.
Fox, although extremely young has great ability to control his pace and tempo, a skill only mastered by NBA’s elite point guards. Additionally his pick and roll IQ both on offense and defence is unmatched in this draft class.
Fox is able to probe defences and use his quick cross over and hesitation to create space for him to make spilt second decisions. Defensively has superb lateral quickness and active hands resulted in many steals.
Negatively, Fox is a non-shooter. Fox shot below 38% in all areas outside the paint. His 75% free throw percentage is encouraging yet it is rather perplexing. Shooting alone will not prevent Sacramento from selecting Fox as the tantalising upside definitely makes him an unmissable prospect.
With Rudy Gay opting out of his final year of his contract, the Kings will be extremely shallow at the forward position, with no current small forwards on their payroll for next season.
If the Kings value the need for a wing, Tatum is the obvious choice. Tatum’s potent scoring from all three levels and size to play both forward position trends toward the future of the NBA. His defence remain the biggest question mark and playing next to Buddy Hield will only compound and magnify his holes.
Orlando’s grind through the post Dwight Howard era continues. After trading former lottery picks Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo to Oklahoma for Serge Ibaka whom ended up becoming Terrence Ross, the Magic remain in a peculiar position.
Currently, Orlando have youngster Elfrid Payton (PG), Mario Hezonja (SG) and Aaron Gordon (PF) on their rookie deals. This young core has had mediocre results this past season as all three players lack the scoring repute to become go-to scorers.
Jayson Tatum is the logical and wise selection for Orlando. Barring any of the teams above the Magic selecting Tatum, the 6’8 small forward out of Duke will serve as the future scorer Orlando needs.
Tatum provides offensive versatility needed for a skill specific magic roster. Tatum’s advanced scoring moves makes him incredibly dangerous outside the paint whilst has underrated body control allowed him to finish creatively around the rim and in the paint.
His obvious holes are defensively although with above average defensive players Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon in addition to defensive minded Coach Frank Vogel surrounding him, Tatum will be given optimal time to develop defensive instincts needed in the NBA.