Phoenix Trades down to select Johnson
Thursday before the 2019 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns traded out of the No. 6 pick and jettisoned former NC State Wolfpack guard TJ Warren to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 11 pick. With that pick, the Suns selected Cameron Johnson, former forward with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Johnson had a solid season with the Tar Heels, averaging 16.5 points per game with 50-percent shooting from the field and an impressive 45.6 percent shooting from deep, but the team failed to reach a Final Four and had its season ended in the Sweet Sixteen.
Johnson was drafted ahead of his fellow teammate, Nassir Little, who many thought would go ahead of Johnson in this draft.
This was a reach for the Suns
This was a reach for the Suns, there is no way to sugar coat this as it stands. The Phoenix Suns have always gambled the last two years by taking the “Trust the Process” approach to team building. The fact they traded down and forewent other more talented forwards in the draft is a head-scratcher, to say the least.
Furthermore, Johnson could have been available outside of the lottery; If the Suns were concerned about not getting Johnson, they could’ve traded to just outside of the lottery and still got Johnson in addition to some extra draft capital.
Phoenix needed point guard help and was building a frontcourt with De’Andre Ayton, but they seem to be reverting the days when Mike D’Antoni was coaching that team and defense was terrible or borderline nonexistent. Beyond that, his game fits more with being the two, which the team already has.
Johnson will get his buckets
That’s not to say I don’t like Johnson, I think this was a reach, but only because they could’ve had him later in the first round.
Johnson will be an offensive option from the corner beyond Booker, which is something that the Suns really do need.
At this moment, they will probably have Johnson come off the bench at the two, as I don’t see him making any sort of splash as a point guard, but if he can become a more physical player and defender, the fact that he’s one of the oldest players in this draft won’t be a problem and he will be a fine pro.