General Manager of the Suns, Ryan McDonough says there is an “overwhelming likelihood” that the team will keep its no. 1 overall pick. He said this after the first pre-draft workout in the team’s practice court. The winning candidates for the pick will be decided privately by the team management but Luka Doncic playing in Spain.
He admits that selecting the pool from which to take their no. 1 pick will be quite difficult. He also acknowledged the crucial role that agents play in the process suggesting that injuries are a major concern for them. He added, “So we’d love them to come in and compete against the other top guys at their position. I think for the guys in the mix at No. 1, that’s going to be tough for us to put together.”
This is the first time that the Suns have won the lottery to pick the no. 1 pick in the 50-year history of the franchise. The GM previously said that the team would likely be open to trade the pick. Now, he seems to have changed his mind.
“It would have to be a young, proven star player with multiple years on his contract, multiple years of team control. Once you start whittling down the list, that list probably shrinks to a handful of players if not fewer players than that. So, I think the overwhelming likelihood is that we keep the pick. However, we’re open, if those teams call us or we call them. But as of now, obviously we’re planning on keeping it,” said McDonough.
It seems that he doesn’t want to waste a golden opportunity available to the franchise and is keeping options open to find the best players he could. However, even though he maintains such an open stance, it is highly likely that their pick will either be Doncic or the Arizona’s Deandre Ayton.
The Bahamas born and raised Ayton is more than 7-foot-tall and played only one college season for the University of Arizona, scoring an average of 20.1 points. The manager is all praise for the big, young player. He said, “In the NBA, obviously, he’s a center. He’s a five. He slides well. He moves his feet well. He’s a tremendous athlete in terms of strength, fluidity, coordination, all of that.”
He not only supported Ayton’s defense but also appreciated his offensive game. Though he will also travel to Europe to meet Doncic. The player has had several meetings with the team management. He has met the player four to five times while assistant general manager Pat Connelly and Igor Kokoskov, the new Suns coach, have met him more frequently.
Kokoskov had earlier worked with the player in the Slovenian national team and together they won the European Championship last year. If the choice is between Ayton and him, the coach will likely choose a talent he has previously worked with and who has more international experience. Though he is frequently criticized for his lack of athleticism, the GM notes that the young player is a 6-foot-6, 218 pounder who is reasonably “skilled at that size.”
The team also has the no. 16 overall pick in the first round of the draft and nos. 30 and 59 in the second round.