Phoenix
Photograph: Kevin Hagen/AP

The Phoenix Suns are finally looking like a competent basketball organization this season. But poor draft choices from the past and present have completely damaged this team’s hopes of ever becoming a true title contender. After entering the NBA bubble last season and going on an impressive 8-0 run to finish their season but falling short of a playoff berth which would have been the first since the 2009-2010 season.

The front office believed that from that run this team’s core had what it takes to make the NBA playoff’s and with the addition of Chris Paul this past offseason they look on track to accomplish that goal. Although I can’t help but think if the Suns had made a single competent draft choice since Devin Booker this team would have a much higher ceiling for the future.

The Phoenix Suns have yet to find a PG for the future

In 2017, the Suns could have taken De’Aaron Fox with the 4th pick in the NBA draft however they chose Josh Jackson. Josh Jackson immediately looked to be headed out of the league in his first season due to struggles on and off the court with the suns. Meanwhile, De’Aaron taken with the 5th pick has blossomed into a star with the Sacramento Kings and would have been the perfect pairing with Devin Booker to form a dynamic young backcourt for at least a decade.

The Suns had a shot at redemption during the 2019 NBA draft. Bringing in Chris Paul was the right move but already being 35 years old father time will be coming for him sooner rather than later. Although, after seeing what he did for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a mentorship role one would assume the suns could use this draft to build for the future while maintaining competitiveness in the present.

The perfect answer for that would have been to draft Tyrese Haliburton who was one of the most NBA-ready guards coming out of the draft. So far Haliburton has exceeded expectations and is looking like a favorite for the Rookie of the year award. Instead, they drafted Jalen Smith with 8 games played so far this season averaging 1.8 points per game and 1.3 rebounds per game it was a head-scratching move then and looks even worse now.

Jalen is logging minutes in the G-League earning generic praise from his unimpressed head coach and Josh Jackson can only find minutes on the worst team in the league the Detriot Pistons. Meanwhile, Haliburton and Fox are contributing to a Kings team that appears to be trending upwards. It takes a special kind of incompetency for the Sacramento Kings to make you look stupid twice.

More Draft Blunders by the Suns

One of the biggest blunders that may be forgotten due to some help from the Atlanta Hawks draft night trade was the Sun’s selection of Deandre Ayton over Luka Doncic.

At the time the Suns head coach was Igor Kokoskov who was Doncic’s coach for the Slovenian national team. While there is a stigma for drafting overseas players the Suns according to Igor, were already determined to take Ayton with no thoughts on drafting the Euro star that would have fit perfectly on a team with a coach already familiar with his skill set.

Luka since the 2018 draft has made a first-team All-NBA, headed towards his second All-Star selection, and destined to become one of the greatest euro players in the NBA ever at the young age of 21. Ayton is currently averaging a career-low in points coming off a season where he was suspended for violating the NBA drug program. While Ayton is going to be a productive center in the NBA when you have the opportunity to select Luka Doncic you should probably take him.

Two more players that the Phoenix Suns wasted draft picks on were Dragan Bender who is currently out of the league after four seasons & Marquese Chriss who is still a raw prospect four years into his career. Building through the draft is crucial for teams that don’t have the luxury of attracting big-name-free agents. When done right you see success stories like the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder. When done wrong it forces teams to further mortgage their future for past mistakes and caps their ceiling for contention something that the Phoenix Suns are experiencing now.