There’s a reason a good chunk of you reading this column, like me, play fantasy sports. We all think we can run the personnel side of a sports franchise. I mean – how hard could it really be? You sign a few players, trade some others, and voilà, you have a championship contender.
And then you wake up from your dream…
Tomorrow night is key for the Phoenix Suns franchise. They have the 2nd best odds at landing the #1 pick in the NBA Draft (behind Brooklyn whose pick goes to Boston) – ironically Phoenix has never drafted first since they debuted as a franchise 50 years ago. Assuming they get a top 3 pick which is likely, here’s how I would fix the current Suns roster and make them a strong Western Conference contender in the coming years.
I may be way off base with some of these trades and predictions but let’s have some fun with it:
Devin Booker is already a franchise player and he’s not even legal to drink or gamble in this country! Once you have a building block, you’re already way ahead of the game. The Suns consistently have made lousy moves over the last 10 years but they got this one right in the 2015 draft.
Move #1: Trade Tyson Chandler, his two years and $26.5 million contract to a contender. Considering Chandler is a valuable rim protector, he makes sense for a team like Houston who was left with Nene (unrestricted free agent) and Clint Capela in the middle. The Rockets are in win now mode and Chandler definitely has two good years left.
Proposed Trade: Chandler and a 2021-2023 top-14 protected 1st round pick to Houston for Ryan Anderson (3 years, $60 million remaining). Anderson is a great outside shooter who won’t help much defensively…but considering the Suns play an uptempo style of ball, he fits. Houston needs to realize that they won’t win a series against a team like San Antonio or Golden State without some sort of defense.
Move #2: Trade Brandon Knight and his remaining three year, $44 million dollar deal to New York for Joakim Noah. The Knicks will let Derrick Rose go in free agency this year and Knight clearly needs a fresh start. Noah is suspended for the first 12 games of the 2017-18 season due to violating the NBA’s drug policy but when he’s healthy and able to play, he’s a beast in the middle and would add significant toughness to the franchise. With Alex Len likely to be out the door and Chandler already moved, Noah adds defense and toughness to adequately replace Chandler.
Move #3: Are you ready for this one? Trade Eric Bledsoe, TJ Warren, and a 2019 1st round draft choice to Indiana for Paul George. The Suns have a budding star in Tyler Ulis, who despite his defensive limitations, is a dynamic distributor of the basketball. George is a top 10 player in the league and combined with Booker, the Suns would immediately become a playoff team who will sell tickets!
Move #4: Draft a point guard in the 1st round! Fortunately for the Suns, they’re guaranteed to get a top 5 pick in the worst case scenario and based on Draft Express’ current mock draft, three point guards should be among those five picks. Let’s say the Suns don’t get Markelle Fultz, pass on Lonzo Ball (due to his father’s off-the-court drama), and instead take another Kentucky product, the high upside De’Aaron Fox.
Move #5: Take a center at Pick #32. According to Draft Express, the Suns could have a choice between Bam Adebayo (Kentucky), Thomas Bryant (Indiana), and Caleb Swanigan (Purdue). Give me the 6’10” Bryant who oozes with upside. For good measure, give me SG Tyler Dorsey (Oregon) with Pick 54, the Suns second 2nd round pick.
Round out the roster with lower-tier free agents and make sure the salary cap works, but here’s your almost-final roster:
PG – De’Aaron Fox, Tyler Ulis
SG – Devin Booker, Leandro Barbosa, Tyler Dorsey
SF – Paul George, Jared Dudley
PF – Ryan Anderson, Marquese Chriss, Alan Williams
C – Joakim Noah, Dragan Bender, Thomas Bryant
If that isn’t a top 6 team in the Western Conference when healthy, then call me crazy. Even crazier, tell me this roster wouldn’t be the 3rd best team in the West behind the Warriors and Spurs!
Want me to try and fix your team next? Shoot me a line on Twitter!