UNC Basketball: Could Cole Anthony join Cam Johnson in Phoenix?

Is it possible that the Phoenix Suns will use their first round draft pick to add another former UNC basketball star to their current roster?

The 2020 NBA Draft is a little over a month away. With just a couple of weeks until teams begin to make their franchise-altering decisions, a former Tar Heel’s draft stock remains as one of the most interesting stories to follow as we inch closer to draft day.

After the NBA Draft lottery was set, a handful of initial mock drafts were released. In those mock drafts, Cole Anthony was projected to go anywhere from 10th to 21st, as evaluators are currently unsure as to where he fits in regards to this draft class.

Heading into his freshman season at Chapel Hill, it was almost a guarantee that the talented guard would be a lottery pick, possibly even a top-5 selection. However, after a season of struggles for the Tar Heels — and injuries for Anthony — his draft stock may have dipped a bit.

Although he probably won’t be selected at the very top of the draft, CBS Sports Colin Ward-Henninger still sees Anthony as a top-10 pick in this draft. In his most recent mock draft, Ward-Henninger has the Phoenix Suns selecting Anthony with the No. 10 overall pick. Here is his explanation as to why this pick makes sense for the Suns franchise:

“The Suns are on the cusp of a breakthrough after an undefeated performance in the bubble, and Anthony gives them someone to run the offense when Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio are on the bench. Anthony has tremendous potential as a scorer at the NBA level with his finishing ability and pull-up prowess. At this point Anthony appears to be more of a scorer than a playmaker, but those skills will continue to develop under Monty Williams.”

Although they barely missed the playoffs, the Suns were arguably the best team in the NBA Bubble. In an effort to push for a playoff spot, the Suns, led by Devin Booker, capped off an undefeated 8-0 record as part of the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Florida.

As they look to build for the future, the club’s philosophy may be to take the best talent available. At No. 10, it is very possible that Anthony could be the best player left on the board. With Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio in the mix, Anthony would most-likely serve as the team’s backup point guard. As Ward-Henninger noted, Anthony has a lot of potential in regards to scoring the basketball, but needs some more development as a playmaker.

This fit could be a great one for Anthony. Here’s some reasons why:

  1. Anthony isn’t thrown right into the starting lineup: We know Anthony is very talented, but could definitely benefit from extra time to develop. With the Suns, he would be called upon mostly to run the team’s second unit.
  2. Speaking of the second unit…: With his scoring ability, Anthony could serve as the “main guy” as he runs the second unit. He’ll have ample opportunities to score and create his own shot opportunities in this role.
  3. Monty Williams: For a young player, it is vital to be paired with a coach that can help you thrive. Monty Williams can definitely help develop Anthony’s playmaking skills. Let’s not forget: Williams has familiarity with the Anthony family, as he was former teammates with Cole’s father, Greg.

We still have plenty of time until the NBA Draft, but it’s interesting to keep an eye on Anthony’s draft stock. If he ends up sliding down the draft board a bit, a team like the Suns could possibly end up getting the “steal of the draft” if Anthony is able to eventually reach his full potential.

And let’s not forget: just last year, the Suns made a draft day trade to acquire Cameron Johnson. Could this be the second year in a row where the Suns add another Tar Heel to the mix?

Only time will tell!

Next: UNC Basketball: TBT Poll shows fans want UNC Alumni team in next year's tournament

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