The Case for the Phoenix Suns to Draft Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith
When Zhaire Smith committed to the NBA Draft, I was sad...for about 30 seconds. Then I got over it and was absolutely stoked to have a lottery type prospect as a one-and-done literally fly through Chris Beard's program.
I dove headfirst into mock draft after mock draft, and started to see a nightmare scenario: Zhaire Smith to the Suns at 16 overall.
That would mean he was passed by the 76ers at 10, who are going to be contenders in the East next season, and the Clippers at 12 and 13, who didn't make the playoffs but were above .500 in a down year. The Bucks, who have rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo, pick later at 17. If Smith fell just two more spots, he would join Coach Pop in San Antonio.
Here's what SI.com had to say about Zhaire Smith to the Suns:
Viewed as one of the draft’s bigger home run swings, Smith is a jaw-dropping athlete without much of a résumé. The Suns could afford to take a chance here. He competes defensively, has a feel and passes the eye test, but has also demonstrated little to no ability to generate his own offense playing effectively at forward in his lone college season. He could become a high-flying two-way contributor, or he could flame out quickly if his guard skills don’t develop. It’s worth considering he measured at just under 6'3" in shoes at the combine. If a team can afford to gamble on talent, Smith is a good candidate and looks set to go in the teens somewhere.
That's a great write-up, but when I read that I just kept thinking how bad the Suns were and didn't want Zhaire to have to toil in mediocrity when there are so many good teams in the Western Conference, and better immediate landing spots. So I went and did some digging on exactly how bad the Suns were to earn the worst record in the entire NBA last season.
After five minutes of research, it became abundantly clear that the Suns were not nearly as bad as their record portrayed last season. They were in the playoff hunt through 41 games, then went on an all-time tanking mission and succeeded.
Their pick at 16 is the second first round pick for the Suns. The other one is the first overall pick. And that's where it all gets interesting.
If the Suns select Deandre Ayton, they will instantly add an offensive powerhouse down low. One that could average a double double as a rookie. Add a 21-year-old veteran in Devin Booker and a budding Joshua Jackson, and you start to see a recipe brewing for success.
In today's NBA, you could spread the floor with Booker, Jackson and TJ Warren, with Ayton roaming down low, and all you're missing is an elite perimeter defender / x-factor.
Enter: Zhaire Smith.
The Phoenix Suns would be in the playoffs immediately and would be the most impressive turnaround in the NBA if they added Deandre Ayton and Zhaire Smith.
Is that the best fit for the best Red Raider prospect since Andre Emmett? Does Zhaire Smith even drop to number 16? He's rated as the 9th best prospect according to ESPN's draft analytics.
I don't know the answers but the questions are very intriguing.
The NBA draft is set for Thursday, June 21st at 6 p.m.