Duke forward Zion Williamson may be seen by most experts as the most likely player to get picked first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, but a new report suggests that the Phoenix Suns might have other plans when draft day rolls around in June.
Citing a report from The Athletic‘s Sam Vecenie, Bleacher Report wrote on Saturday that people within the NBA believe that the Suns would “prefer to end up with” Ja Morant, the Murray State point guard who is widely considered one of the top available talents in this year’s draft. The outlet added that this could be in part because of Phoenix’s ongoing search for a capable starting point guard following Eric Bledsoe’s move to the Milwaukee Bucks early in the 2017-18 NBA season.
Despite his assertion that the Suns could prefer drafting Morant over Williamson, Vecenie was quoted as saying that he is “skeptical” Phoenix will pass on Williamson if the team lands the No. 1 overall draft pick, because of the “financial windfall” the Suns could benefit from by drafting someone as marketable. As such, Bleacher Report opined that the most ideal scenario would be for the Suns to emerge from the draft lottery with the No. 2 pick, allowing Williamson to get picked first overall, with Morant getting selected next and becoming their “point guard of the future.”
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The Phoenix Suns’ struggles at point guard have been well-documented since the Bledsoe trade left the team without a quality starter at the position. According to ESPN‘s player efficiency rankings, rookie De’Anthony Melton was the Suns’ most efficient point guard in the 2018-19 season, finishing the year with a PER of 9.94 and ranking 71st out of 81 qualified players.
Melton, a second-round draft pick originally selected by the Houston Rockets, started 31 of the 50 games he played in and averaged five points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. He also shot just 39.,1 percent from the field and 30.5 percent from three-point range in his rookie NBA season, according to his Basketball-Reference player page.
While drafting Ja Morant would allow the Suns to address a long-standing weakness, it’s still far from certain where the team would be picking in the 2019 NBA Draft, which will be held on June 20, per the NBA‘s official website. This year’s draft lottery will take place on May 14, with the Suns, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers — the three teams with the worst regular-season records in 2018-19 — each having a 14 percent chance of ending up with the No. 1 overall selection.
Per ESPN, Morant finished the 2018-19 season at Murray State with averages of 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 10 assists in 33 games.