June 21, 2018 will go down as one of the most important dates in the history of the Phoenix Suns franchise.
After winning the draft lottery and the number one overall pick that came along with doing so, the Suns went on to fulfill expectations and use that valuable asset to select Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton.
Selecting Ayton was no surprise, but it's the move that came after that could ultimately determine just how successful this draft was for the club.
The Suns made a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire the 10th pick in the draft, Villanova star Mikal Bridges. In exchange for Bridges, the Suns sent the 76ers the rights to the 16th pick, Texas Tech's Zhaire Smith, and the Miami Heat's 2021 first round pick, per NBA.com.
Crucially, as indicated on RealGM.com, that first-rounder the Suns sent to the 76ers is unprotected, meaning it will convey to Philadelphia regardless of it being a late-first round pick or if it ends up being the first overall selection.
That Heat pick is widely regarded as one of the most valuable assets in the Suns' possession, something they could have used as the centerpiece for a trade for an All-Star who could become available in the future, or even just something that will enable them to add another talented youngster to the roster years from now.
Now that they've traded away that pick, expectations have changed for them and with a core of Ayton, Bridges, 2017 draftee Josh Jackson and emerging star Devin Booker, the Suns are expected to contend sooner rather than later.
In the short-term, the deal is expected to be highly beneficial for the Suns, as Bridges is precisely the type of player they need — a versatile perimeter defender who is also capable of knocking down three-pointers consistently.
It's further down the line that the deal could end up going badly for the Suns, as Smith could turn out to be a better player than Bridges because he's the superior athlete and that Miami pick could be really good.
The Suns wanting to be a good team again as soon as possible is understandable, but there's no question that they are taking a risk in pursuit of that goal.