Trading your best player is not usually the best way to get better in the NBA, but the Phoenix Suns have gone ahead and done that anyway, dealing Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall to the Washington Wizards. The Suns received Emeka Okafor and the Wizards’ first round pick in the 2014 draft.
Okafor is dealing with neck issue and it is still unknown how long he will be out for. However, he is an expiring contract, which is exactly what the Suns are looking for. The pick is top 12 protected, but the Wizards should make the playoffs in the weaker Eastern Conference, and the pick is likely to fall somewhere in the 13-16 range. In the loaded 2014 draft, that pick could easily land the Suns a solid starter.
Phoenix is going to be horrible this season, as Goran Dragic is the only proven starter on their roster. Eric Bledsoe and Alex Len could become very good players eventually, but this team is going to struggle mightily in the tough Western Conference. The silver lining to this, however, is that the Suns are at the top of the list of contenders for the No. 1 pick. They should have a great chance at Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and the rest of the potential superstars at the top of the draft.
Making things even better, the Suns have a lottery protected first round pick from the Indiana Pacers and a top 13 protected pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Suns will get Indiana’s pick, as the Pacers are essentially a lock for the playoffs. Whether or not they will end up with Minnesota’s pick remains to be seen (I think they will, but the Wolves will be in a close battle for a playoff spot), but the Suns should have at least three first round picks in this draft.
When you combine the potential talent level that they can bring in through the draft with Bledsoe and Len, we could easily be discussing the Suns as one of the most promising teams in the NBA at this time next season. Credit goes to Ryan McDonough and his staff for recognizing the need to patiently build, and they have done an excellent job of positioning themselves for future success. The Suns are in for a rough season, but they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.