The Phoenix Suns traded the No. 13 pick and Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Sacramento Kings for the No. 8 pick to select Marquese Chriss, an 18-year-old super athlete from Washington. The Kings will also get pick No. 28 and a second-round pick in 2020.
Chriss might be the quickest riser in the entire NBA draft. In January, he wasn't even named in NBA.com's top-30, passed over for people like Isaiah Briscoe and Brice Johnson. Now Chriss has soared into the lottery thanks to the strong close to his season with the Huskies, catching eyes as a high risk, high reward prospect who has the potential to be a true star in the frontcourt.
Above everything else, Chriss is a ridiculous athlete. He flies all over the court with his 6'9 frame, a late bloomer who has scintillating quickness and lateral movement coupled with near instantaneous leaping abilities. Watch him fly around the court, performing ridiculous feats of athleticism, and it doesn't even look like he's trying all that hard. Watching him obliterate a layup is a good way to introduce yourself to his raw explosiveness on the court.
It's worth watching his entire game. He truly makes athletic feats look normal, whether it's flying high above the rim to throw down an alley oop or calmly running the court after a huge block.
But Chriss is nearly as raw as he is explosive. He's a poor rebounder despite his natural gifts, something that would point to poor technique and perhaps bad habits. His defense is spectacular when he's using his athleticism, but his fundamentals are poor, hurting him in man-on-man defense even if he can sometimes make up for his mistakes in explosive fashion. Chris fouled a ton with Washington, too, including a stretch in the middle of the season where he fouled out of six straight outings. (He had 15 total disqualifications in 34 appearances.)
These are all problems, and just because they can be fixed doesn't guarantee they will. Chriss' raw tools are breathtaking, but the discipline needed to make them work requires him buying in.
With that said, Chriss is more than just a raw athlete. The mechanics to his jump shot are sound, hitting 35 percent from behind the arc on 60 attempts. Chriss shows promise offensively, too, flashing a post game from time to time and capably taking defenders off the dribble.That's good, since he's a little small to play center in some of the most taxing matchups. Perhaps the small-ball approach of the modern NBA will slot him into playing in the middle anyway, but having enough versatility to shift over to power forward would help him greatly and give teams the all important versatility needed to succeed.
It's hard to pass over athletes as good as Chriss, though, especially when they aren't completely devoid of skills. As mentioned, Chriss rose rapidly in the 2016 Draft, starting as a freshman with few expectations and becoming one of the most consistent contributors in all of the NCAA by the end of the season. That speaks well of his work ethic and is encouraging for his future.
Chriss may never be anything more than a fantastic athlete. Many NBA players have suffered similar career arcs. But with the proper development, Chriss could turn out to be one of the best players in the entire draft.