There's an "overwhelming likelihood" that the Suns keep the No. 1 pick

The Phoenix Suns have missed the playoffs for eight-straight years.

The past three seasons have been especially disastrous, as they’ve gone a combined 68-178. After a 23-win campaign in 2015-2016 and a 24-win season in 2016-2017, Phoenix backtracked with an abysmal 21-win showing this year.

Starting with the firing of head coach Earl Watson just days into the new season, the team trotted out an odd mix of veterans and extremely raw, young players and were one of the worst teams in the league as a result.

But, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few talented pieces to build around. Devin Booker has developed nicely and has the makings of a future star. TJ Warren and rookie Josh Jackson should be contributors on the wings for years to come.

When the ping pong balls fell Phoenix’s way in the 2018 Draft Lottery earlier this month, a much-needed opportunity came their way. Not only will the Suns have the opportunity to land whoever they believe is the best player in this year’s class, but they could always trade away the pick for a legitimate star or even trade down to acquire multiple picks that could become a part of their vision moving forward. It’s the first time in team history that they will pick first overall. 

Although the possibilities are endless, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said there’s an “overwhelming likelihood” that the team keeps the No. 1 pick, according to the Associated Press.

However, there’s a very specific scenario in which McDonough and his team would make a trade.

“It would have to be a young, proven star player with multiple years on his contract, multiple years of team control,” McDonough said. “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.”

The prospects

Since finding a team willing to trade that type of player seems a bit farfetched, former University of Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton and international star Luka Doncic look like the most likely choices at this point.

“So he was guarding away from the basket on the perimeter,” McDonough said of Ayton. “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.” McDonough also said Ayton “has a high-level feel for the game, especially on the offensive end of the court. And from my experience guys who have that at the offensive end of the floor usually, in time, are able to translate that to the defensive end of the court as well.”

“Because he’s so skilled at that size and has such a good feel, I think you don’t realize on tape how big he is,” McDonough said of Doncic. “He’s able to jab and create his own shot. He’s able to lower his shoulder and create space to overpower defenders. He’s adept at getting to the free throw line. I don’t have any concerns with him physically.”

Depth

Overall, the Suns view this as one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory.

“I think there are some drafts that you prefer not to have the No. 1 pick just because there isn’t a player worthy of that,” McDonough revealed. “I think in some ways you’re set up to fail in that scenario. This year we feel the opposite. We feel there are four or five players who in normal drafts would be in the mix for No. 1 if not be the No. 1 pick. … We view that as a good problem to have. It’s a really talented draft. I think this will be one that you look back on historically and say that was one of the better drafts in the last decade. And it’s great to kick it off No. 1.”

The Suns have the 16th, 30th and 59th picks as well. Therefore, they’ll have a solid chance to get their rebuild going in the right direction.

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