The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Did the Suns Get It Right With Jalen Smith?

Here's what we know about every draft that has ever taken place:
1) Every pre-draft board is wrong

2) Ever post-draft reaction is based on the pre-draft board which we know is wrong.

Which is why I don't have a problem with the Suns selecting Maryland big man Jalen Smith with the 10th overall pick. In fact, the selection of Smith should be another reason to celebrate James Jones's vision for the Suns franchise

Jones, affectionately known as "Champ" during his playing days, knows basketball better than anyone reading this and certainly light years better than the person writing this. So instead of joining the groupthink that is the NBA pre-draft process, Jones has a conviction on what he knows about basketball and what he wants for the Suns. He's not influenced by what people might say or the potential for criticism, he simply follows his own path with a conviction that is admirable.

Think about your fantasy football drafts. How many times do you have a plan in the draft, only to blindly follow some draft guide during the draft. We've all done it. Now, when you make your own decisions on player rankings and make the pick, isn't it that much sweeter when you nail it? And isn't it that much easier to accept when it fails? Rather than following someone else's advice?

It doesn't mean there's zero value in seeking different opinions or gathering as much information as possible, its just that its easier to accept the results when you are making the decision with your own brain.

That's James Jones in a nutshell.

It doesn't mean I love the pick of Smith. I'm a wing hoarder. I would've rather seen the Suns take Saddiq Bey or Aaron Nesmith or Devin Vassell. And I love playmakers, so Tyrese Haliburton felt like the perfect opportunity to bridge the current CP3 led Suns with the post CP3 led Suns. I think Haliburton would've been the best pick the Suns could've made and I think the other three wings would've been better fits than Smith.

But Smith is an interesting player. The Suns don't need him to be a savior. They need him to be their seventh best player. Based on my conversation with his former head coach at Maryland, Mark Turgeon, Smith is more than capable of being that for the Suns.

Maryland ran Smith off screens to free him for three point shots. They relied on his shot blocking to anchor their defense. And his character helped define the culture of the team.

That's impressive.

I'm just opposed to drafting a backup big man in the first round. The Suns think they can play Smith and Deandre Ayton together, and maybe they'll prove me wrong, but that sounds like a fantasy from the early 2000's. Bigs get blitzed off the court regularly with smaller lineups and while the Lakers showed size can still win, the Suns don't have Lebron James.

Drafting Smith felt like the NFL equivalent of drafting a platoon sharing RB in the first round. There can be value but there's more value elsewhere.

Still, after remaking this Suns team in his vision with Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Dario Saric and Cam Johnson joining Devin Booker to form this team's core, Jones has earned the benefit of the doubt.

After all, if he has conviction it was the right pick, maybe we should too.

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