The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Was Last Night a Disaster or a Home Run for the Suns?

Suns fans are hurt, confused, disappointed and angry. In other words, just another night on Planet Orange.

It doesn't happen often but I'm here to offer some optimism.

Yes, the Suns traded out of a prime draft spot KNOWING they would have a chance to draft UNC PG Coby White, who on paper seemed to be the perfect backcourt fit with Devin Booker.

But, Josh Jackson also at one point felt like the perfect fit. I'm not comparing the two players or two trajectories, just the reality that Draft night can be the most misleading of nights for any sports fan.

And yes, the Suns drafted a player at #11 that likely could have been available later in the draft in UNC F Cameron Johnson. Johnson is a 23 year old, 5th year senior drafted in the NBA Draft Lottery in the year 2019, which makes him some sort of reverse pioneer or something.

BUT, he's big (6'9), can shoot the lights out as illustrated by his 46% 3 point shooting on over 5 attempts last season and over 40% career marks from long range.

What do we often criticize teams for doing? Following consensus and not picking with conviction. If the Suns love Johnson and wanted him, more power to them for having the fortitude to draft him at #11. Its a risk, but I don't immediately see a player that would've been an obvious miss for the Suns.

Brandon Clarke is a 22 year old athlete who isn't a shooter. I'd rather take the shooter who can space the floor. I would've taken Tyler Herro but I don't think the Suns passed on a future Hall of Famer either.

After last night, the Suns have a chance to put 4 shooters on the floor around Deandre Ayton which is a massive improvement.

But, they still have the PG situation.

That's where things got Suns weird.

They dumped TJ Warren's contract for cap space and traded down but then traded back into the first round for Ty Jerome. Jerome is a nice player but adding another rookie salary, this will be the Suns 7th first round pick in the last 3 drafts, to a team that should be hoarding cap space was unusual.

Then, they took on Aron Bayne's contract as part of the Jerome trade, further eating into their cap space.

At the beginning of the night, there were a lot of signs the Suns were positioning themselves for D'Angelo Russell.

His tweets, Michael Thomas's tweet, the Suns passing on Coby White, dumping TJ Warren all lead a trail right to a Brinks truck full of cash to dump on Russell's driveway.

At the end of the night, the Suns would still have some heavy lifting to do to make that a reality. They'd have to trade Jackson, renounce Oubre and likely stretch provision Tyler Johnson.

It would be worth it because one thing is clear to me: Everything the Suns did hinges on landing Russell.

If they land Russell, it shows they had a plan and executed it. They added 2 players with size and shooting in Dario Saric and Cam Johnson, plus a promising rookie PG that could give the Suns a nice 8 man rotation with a great combination of shooting, size and effort..

If they land Russell they'd immediately transform into an excellent, modern NBA offense that may not be able to stop anybody but good luck catching them.

If they land Russell, they'd start 3 All Star caliber players 23 or younger surrounded by the kind of role players that defined the Raptors and Bucks runs.

If they land Russell, James Jones can ride into Game 1 of the 2019-20 season on a literal white horse.

If the don't land Russell, last night was a confusing, bizarre mess that makes them just a slightly improved mess from the last two years.

In other words, just another season for Planet Orange.

Lets hope change is in the air.

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