By Kaelen Jones
Currently 18-39 and last place in the Western Conference standings, the Phoenix Suns hit the All-Star break in contention to land a top-three pick for the second year in a row, and what would be the third time in the last five NBA drafts for a team still searching to find their true identity.
The Suns’ backcourt has seen plenty of turnover in recent years, however one former player is bullish on a particular prospect being a realistic solution.
If the Suns were able to land another high-end selection, they should strongly consider spending it on highly-touted UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, according to former first-round pick Casey Jacobsen.
“There’s no question about it,” Jacobsen told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview earlier this week of Phoenix potentially drafting the 6-foot-6, Chino Hills (Calif.) native during a phone interview Tuesday.
“As a general manager I would have a hard time passing up on a guy like Lonzo for a guy like (Washington guard) Markelle Fultz, or maybe a Dennis Smith, the junior point guard out of NC State.
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“Because Lonzo, although he may not be as polished of a scorer as the other two, he’s better in every other facet of the game. His ability to rise up in big moments to help everyone else play better.”
Jacobsen referenced UCLA’s underwhelming performance last season, including the play of Bruins guard Bryce Alford. He says the turnaround in both this season is spurred by Ball’s play.
“That’s not because (Alford) became a better player or his father’s become a better coach — that’s because of Lonzo Ball,” he said.
Ball is currently averaging 15.4 points, 7.6 assists, and six rebounds per game in his freshman season at UCLA. He was recently named a top-20 candidate to win the John R. Wooden Award, which is given to the nation’s top player.