The Phoenix Suns could find themselves making the first selection of the NBA Draft for the second season in a row after grabbing center DeAndre Ayton with the No. 1 overall pick last year. If the Suns are gifted the top selection, they will almost certainly nab Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson, who is fully expected to declare for the Draft.
Holding the second-worst record (18-60) in the NBA, they have a 14 percent chance of receiving the top overall pick via the league’s lottery.
Let’s examine how Williamson, the 6-foot-7 forward who turns 19 in July, fits in with the Suns’ young core.
Ayton And Williamson: A Dynamic Frontcourt Duo
The Suns have plenty of question marks on their roster, but they believe Ayton is the franchise’s center for years to come. Ayton, 20, has shown flashes of dominance and is on pace to become the first rookie in Suns franchise history to average a double-double, currently posting 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He already broke the franchise record for double-doubles by a rookie, accumulating 39.
With a glaring need at power forward, Williamson could slide perfectly into Phoenix’s starting unit. A frontcourt featuring Williamson at the four and Ayton at the five could be lethal. The duo would instantly make the Suns a dominant rebounding club with great passing from the four and five slots to jumpstart fast breaks.
Easing The Scoring Burden Off Devin Booker
Rising star Devin Booker, the fourth-year shooting guard, dominated in the latter stages of March. The 22-year-old had a 59-point effort against the Utah Jazz, logged 50 points versus the Washington Wizards, and put up 48 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Problem is, the Suns lost all three contests during his scoring frenzy. Booker (26.9 points per contest) can put the ball in the hoop as consistently as anyone in the league not named James Harden, but his scoring outbursts won’t be enough to get Phoenix out of the basement of the Western Conference.
If the Suns grab Williamson, he can alleviate some of the scoring responsibilities from Booker. Williamson is an exceptional scorer, averaging 26 points per contest in four NCAA tournament games.
Zion Williamson scored 104 points in the NCAA Tournament, becoming the first freshman to score 100 points in an NCAA Tournament since Derrick Rose in 2008. pic.twitter.com/l5rCnvbrDt
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 31, 2019
Forced into point guard duties with Tyler Johnson sidelined with a right knee injury, Booker amassed four games with 10 or more assists in March. His best performance came against the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, leading the Suns to a stunning victory by registering 37 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds.
Booker can spearhead the offense, but he needs more reliable options when distributing the rock. Williamson, a proven shot-maker, could help Booker further develop his abilities as a floor general by providing a dependable target. Passing to a talent like Williamson would make Booker’s life a lot easier on the offensive end.
Williamson’s Defensive Excellence Can Aid Defense-Deprived Suns
The Suns need a lockdown defensive player just as much as any team in the league, as they rank 29th in defensive efficiency. Williamson is an active and versatile defender, perhaps best evidenced by his blocks (1.8 per contest) and steals (2.1) rates.
Ranked No. 1 in player efficiency rating (PER) among all NCAA players, Williamson would give Phoenix a rim protector who can man the middle, something they desperately lack. Richaun Holmes is the only player on the roster to average at least one block per contest, and the forward/center is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
While Ayton has demonstrated his scoring and rebounding talents, he is not a threat to opposing players attacking the basket. Williamson would give the Suns, who surrender a jarring 116.3 points per game, a much-needed presence in the paint.