The Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks finished the NBA Draft as the winners. Sure, there is no actual award for this but both teams made moves to be better than they were last season. Being smaller markets and not big free-agent destinations, the draft is extremely important for these franchises to help rebuild and improve their rosters.
The Suns came into the draft with the number one overall pick and their only job was not to get too cute with it. They took the obvious choice and the most NBA-ready player in Deandre Ayton. Before the draft, Ayton made a bold comparison when referring to what he and Devin Booker could be. “Honestly, I could see myself in Phoenix. I could see a little Shaq and Kobe 2.0.” With the 16th pick in the draft, the Suns drafted Zhaire Smith, but traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers for Mikal Bridges, who came off the board at the 10th pick. Bridges was considered one of the best 3-and-D guys in the draft. Even with the 31st pick, the Suns managed to pick up another first-round talent in Elie Okobo out of France.
After finishing last season with only 21 wins, the Suns look to be heading in the right direction. Devin Booker is looking like he may be eventually be an elite scorer. Now, they’re adding a true big man in Deandre Ayton, who was a man among boys at the collegiate level. Bridges brings the three-point shooting that Josh Jackson lacks and brings the defense to make up for Booker. The Suns won’t immediately be making an impact to make the playoffs but a core of Booker (21 years old), Jackson (21), Ayton (19), and Bridges (21) shows that the Suns are on the rise.
The Mavericks also made a splash in the draft by making a trade to get Slovenian star Luka Doncic. Many thought Doncic would be drafted second, but once the Kings passed on him, the Mavericks took full advantage and received the trade rights to him as long as the Hawks could get the player they wanted with the 5th pick. Doncic, who is only 19 years old, already has years of experience at the professional level, including many awards including Euroleague MVP. The Mavericks also drafted Jalen Brunson out of Villanova, Ray Spalding out of Louisville, and Kostas Antetokounpo out of Dayton.
The Mavericks are looking into an era that we thought would never come, a post-Dirk era. They will begin this era with Dennis Smith Jr. and now Luka Doncic who will make an immediate impact for the squad. The team isn’t quite there yet, but by taking a chance and trading for Doncic, the Mavericks could have found their star for the future.