I can't say I'm a drafting expert here, but from what I've seen from players and what I know about the Suns, I have a pretty strong opinion about who I want to take with what may be their most important pick in decades.
Tier 1: Transcendant Superstars.
One look at Ayton and you can tell he is going to have a good career in the NBA. He has a built frame and the strength of an ox, but he is lean enough to be extremely mobile. His physical tools are going to ensure that he will be a 70+ percent scorer by the basket and a beast on the boards. The near identical conference/non-conference play is good evidence for this.
While Ayton's physical tools are overwhelming, what really sets him apart is his skill and touch. Ayton shoots 74% from the line already, which is important because he is 8th in the Pac-10 in FTA. He has a jumper that is growing and while not a sharpshooter, can hit those face-up and turnaround jumpers that will separate him from other guys his size. He has the foundation for a versatile offensive arsenal.
I don't think he will be a game-changing defender, but what excites me is his ability to defend without fouling. Ayton averages 2.5 PFs a game (3.0 per 40), and we know from Marquese's profoundly disappointing play just how important staying out of foul trouble is to maintaining a nice long career in the NBA. A slight issue I found offensively is that he rarely drives to the basket on face-up opportunities, preferring to shoot most of the time. It's something to keep an eye on, but I think he will have easier time with better spacing and coaching at the next level. Also, he got off to a very hot start, but his most recent play has been slightly more human, and tons of draft evaluators seem very easily swayed by first impressions, so I take the continual placement of Ayton at number 1 on most draft boards with a huge grain of salt.
The Slovenian Supernova that is Luka Doncic averages 23 PTS, 6.6 AST, and 8 REBs per 36 in the second most competitive league in the world at 18 years of age. His ball handling is transcendent for his size, allowing him to break down most wings and shoot over most guards. He is only shooting 33% from 3, but at a high and consistent volume of 5 attempts per game. From inside the arc he shoots an impressive 59%, with picky and crafty shot selection and ability to finish with both hands (possibly the most underrated offensive skill as of late). What has everybody talking, however, is Luka's incredible passing. He has the vision and IQ to make the right reads in very short intervals of time, often being able to bail himself out driving full speed to the basket or in mid-air. This will be incredibly useful handling the ball in pnr scenarios, where he really does remind me of an inverse LeBron, creating from outside-in instead of inside-out. I can see him becoming a tremendous playmaker.
His major weaknesses as of now are his average leaping ability and lateral quickness. He will not be able to finish at the rim at an elite level on high volume like Lebron, so his game will have to come from elite outside shooting, which he may struggle with early on as he's proven to be a bit streaky. His shooting must be good enough to make teams pay when they put shorter guards on him, because he's going to really have to work hard on offense when being defended by Paul George/Jimmy Butler/Josh Jackson types if he isn't quick enough to get by them. Defensively, he suffers from a problem that most oversized PGs share, which is that he isn't quick enough to contain the Dennis Smith/Kyrie/Westbrook types of uber explosive guards, so his team must have another guard or wing to switch onto the PG. Lonzo doesn't have this privilege, but the Suns might w/ JJ. Luka has his weaknesses but the sheer talent he displays is unprecedented for his age. He seems like he could be a perfect fit here, and I would personally take him with the number one pick as of today (although it really is close).
Tier 2: Potential All-Star Talent
Michael Porter Jr.
If this young post scorer was healthy this year, he may have moved into tier 1. As of now, his lack of play at the collegiate level replaces a near-guaranteed conference topping statline with a bunch of question marks. I say near-guaranteed because MPJr has one of the purest scoring games I have seen in years. He gets a lot of his offense from the high post, and scores with his beautiful turnaround jumpshot and infinitely deep supply of crafty fakes and subversions. At 6-10 with a 7-1 wingspan and a high release point, he has enough size to shoot over most non-centers, and he has the speed to easily take frontcourt players off the dribble. His footwork is crisp for his age, and he doesn't seem to be afraid of shooting through contact and in tough game situations. He is also athletic and big enough to fill lanes and finish in spectacular fashion in the open floor. At his best I see him as a more athletically gifted Jayson Tatum, which should drop the pants of everyone who is watching that young man light it up on the Celtics. Defensively he has all the tools, but I haven't seen enough to really judge either way.
I've seen people compare MPJr to Kevin Durant and Garnett, and I absolutely see the mix of size, speed and skill that would put him in the same tier as those players, but I really want to see what role coaches put him in before jumping on that bandwagon. I don't think he is quite as fast as Durant is, or quite as strong as Garnett is. Injury history is really the biggest concern - anything to do with the spine really scares me. That is why the news that he may come back this season is so game changing. We may just get the taste we need to inspire confidence taking him top 3. He might just become the best player of the draft, but we need to see more first.
I knew the Muslim population of France is growing exorbitantly, but I didn't think you would convert Rudy!
In all seriousness, Mo Bamba is the spitting image of the stifle tower and will likely become a similarly efficient player. He is averaging 14 PTS and !!!!!!!!5 BLOCKS!!!!!!!!! per 40 for the Longhorns, and his borderline-human physical tools will allow him to continue his tradition of paint tyranny. He is shooting an okay and improving 67% from the line and is even taking threes, albeit at a very low volume and even lower efficiency. I see him with the same offensive limitations as Gobert as well, and will likely just become an inside presence, but the development of that corner three could put another weapon in his incredibly long arms. He must fill out as well, but it seems those Texas steaks are doing him some good already. He is much surer thing than the likes of Bagley and JJJ in my mind, as his role is already carved out and his means of filling that rebounding, rim-protecting, oop-finishing role seems to already be there. While he may never make an all star game, he can be an all-star level game changer in his less flashy but equally important role. As a Suns fan I really think we need another creator, but his fit as a defensive anchor and rim protector is undeniably a need for us.
Jaren Jackson Jr
I was a bit iffy about Jonathan Isaac last year, and JJJ is a very comparable player. Their statlines are nearly indistinguishable, with one key difference. JJJ is a better rim protector, averaging a Bamba-challenging 3.8 blocks per game in conference play (an unbelievable 6.7 per 40), and although he logged less steals per game, I believe he has the same versatility as Isaac. JJJ may end up being the best defender in the draft, and that says a lot considering the subject of the paragraph above is there too. JJJ has 1-on-1 defensive chops, can fill passing lanes, protect the rim at an elite level, and even rotate on the perimeter for brief stretches. Another key difference between the two is 3pt shooting, where Jaren has consistently improved each month, culminating in a ridiculous 53% January (3 attempts per game). That is extremely promising for reaching a versatile, Draymond Green type of role.
The weaknesses I find are firstly his limited offensive weapons beyond finishing. JJJ has athleticism and a fantastic motor, but his inability to create on the block will hold him back. He's gonna get a lot of his offense off of outlet passes and cuts into the paint, and his physical tools aren't quite as overpowering as Ayton/Bamba's. The biggest weakness as of now is his propensity for fouling. JJJ averages 5.9 fouls per 40 in conference play, which is nearly double the fouls tallied by Bamba and Ayton and triple the rate of Bagley. Like I mentioned earlier, Chriss serves as an example of what happens to foul prone bigs early in their careers. Chriss averaged about 1 more foul per 40, but JJJ's rate is still high enough to be a big red flag.
Finally, JJJ is the youngest player towards the top of the draft, turning 19 in September. He is half a year younger than both Bagley and Doncic, and will likely be the youngest player in the NBA come season's start.
These next two are in the same tier, but to me are more boom and more bust than the previous two. Call it Tier Alt-2..?
Marvin Bagley III
Although just a few months ago MB3 was heralded as a clear top 3 pick, his draft stock has recently felt a bit of turbulence as weaknesses began to show themselves in his game. Marvin is a clear example of one of those guys who would be totally unstoppable if he developed a jumpshot. He is already averaging 21 PPG over a blistering 121 ORTG, and that is with leaving points at the line (only 62% FT) and on the perimeter (31% on mostly wide open looks). Everything else is there. He is budding with his back towards the basket, with a nice dropstep and a beautiful left-handed (his strong hand) hook. His touch around the rim is feathery, and it is complimented by an athletic package that is more than enough to hold his own at the next level. He has speed and enough handles in the open floor to be a freight train in transition. Although streaky he can get a mid-range jumper going and it opens up the rest of his game, and he knows how to get to the line (7 FTAs per), I'm extremely impressed with his rebounding as well, averaging 4.4 offensive boards in conference play. He is certainly in contention for best athlete of the bunch. He is young, only turning 19 in March (half a month younger than Luka), and has plenty of time to put that jumper together. If he does that and adds a better right hand he could become one of the best offensive bigs in the game.
Defensively he has been slightly disappointing thus far. Although he stays out of foul trouble that is just as indicative of his less than stellar defensive motor as it is his incredible physical tools. He hasn't shown the same shot-blocking prowess of other bigs on this list, but his 1.4 steals per game is nice. Although not a defensive anchor, Bagley can be a versatile defender and is able to switch on both forward spots very comfortably as of now. Time will tell if he gains enough weight to guard NBA centers.
Overall, while MB3s play has been dipping as the season goes on, he is an incredibly young, incredibly athletic and talented player who is first in the conference in PER and must absolutely be considered as soon as Doncic and Ayton are off the board. The Suns need more shooting, but it would be tough to pass up on a power forward as gifted as this - especially a home grown one - and especially with the cashmere softness shown by the pair of top 10 picks we gambled on 2 years ago.
Finally, the player most of the board has been drooling over. Trae Young is obviously making history right now, and although my overhype detectors went off last year with the last freshman PG sensation, Trae Young might actually be worth a top 5 pick in the draft.
Trae's biggest strength is not his shooting, as most people think; it is actually his ability to get to the line. Trae is crafty, commands limitless space, and has impressive handles. He uses fakes nearly constantly, and is always weaving left and right when going towards the basket, as opposed to Josh Jackson-like straight line drives. He has a James Harden-like quality to him, and by the way uses the same cheesy shooting through the defender's arm move. In conference play, Trae takes 11.7 FTs a game, at free throw rate that sits snuggly between Curry and Harden's. Getting to the line is indicative of high scoring and high efficiency scoring, and breeds consistency. He also makes them when he gets there (83%). This puts him in stark contrast to that last guy from UCLA, who averaged 2.7 FTs a game.
That of course isn't to say his shooting isn't phenomenal. For all the threes he takes (11 attempts a game!!!!) and the level of difficulty he's taking them at it is incredible he can maintain 36% in conference. His form is textbook, his release is lightning quick, and he can take shots either from a standstill, moving left and right, and even stepping back. His shot selection has been wild as of late, but I'm sure he will reign it in when he's on a team with talent on it. The transition 3 will be a consistent weapon for him, and a lineup with him on it will be much better pushing the pace because of the defensive attention he commands. I'm excited to see him coming off of screens and curls. He is quick enough to get free, and I'm sure he will be relieved getting open shots for once.
Trae's passing has been very up and down. He shows great vision, and has a good touch on his passes, but gets very ambitious and looks to make THE pass instead of the RIGHT pass. While it is impressive that he reads through plays and understands where the ball needs to be to score, he must learn more restraint. While he can be a very good passer at the next level, Nash comparisons seem extremely premature. Averaging 9 assists is great if it doesn't come with 7 turnovers, but those turnovers are also a product of the insane amount of possessions Trae must handle the ball in.
Driving to the basket shows a bit of an area of concern for Trae and that is finishing inside. He is small and light at the college level, and he cannot play above the rim like a Donovan Mitchel or Dennis Smith can, which puts him at a huge disadvantage. I've seen him make brilliant moves to the basket, only to get his shot obliterated by a rim protector. The more he learns to make pocket passes to cutting teammates the more efficient he will be in those scenarios, bc as of now it seems like he will struggle in the NBA.
This recent game against Iowa was also a bit concerning. He got outplayed by Lindell Wigginton and locked up by a bad defensive team, and if that continues against more PG rivals it will become a deal-breaker for me. This is something Trae may have in common with that bust out in LA, if you remember how hard he got embarrassed against De'Aaron Fox. (sorry for all the unmitigated Zo hate, but I **** CALLED IT)
The biggest weakness for Trae is his defense. He is certainly quick, but he doesn't have the strength or athleticism to stay with bigger guards. One thing that must be noted is that Trae attacks on offense for the majority of games, and will inevitably take a few plays off out of exhaustion. That will improve with a smaller role in the league. Even so, with below average size and length, he doesn't project to be a particularly good defender in the league.
As primary ball handlers become bigger and bigger, Trae may not the most future-proof kind of player. Big backcourts have become a winning strategy, and I think the 6-7" Luka is a better option on both ends for us. NBA lineups are trending towards five 6-7" guys.