Suns GM Ryan McDonough recaps #H1storic draft

The 2018 NBA Draft has come to its conclusion.

The Suns first-ever No. 1 overall pick went as expected with the selection of Deandre Ayton on Thursday night. Leading up to the draft, Ayton was the favorite for going to the Suns who were in need of the big-man talent the former University of Arizona center possesses. 

“We watched (Deandre) extensively at Arizona,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. “Not only in games, but practices as well. He’s just a phenomenal, physical talent…He checked every box for us, I think he’s going to be great.” 

The Suns were rumored to be extremely interested in trading up from their 16th pick in the first round and at the last second as the clock ran out on the selection, the Suns announced they had traded their selection of Zhaire Smith and a first-round pick in 2021, for the Sixers 2018 tenth overall pick of Mikal Bridges.

“We were trying to get a pick,” McDonough said. “We started ahead of (10) and worked our way and weren’t able to crack top nine. I think what happened, you’ll have to ask Philly, but I think they drafted Mikal with the intention of keeping him, and then we said ‘Hey look, that’s our guy, let’s keep this conversation going.’ Then they called us back I think when they figured out Zhaire Smith would be there at 16, and asked if we still had interest and we did.”

The Suns like Bridges’ versatility to play three and four. They believe his size and his ability to switch positions will fit in Phoenix, McDonough said. 

In the second round, with the 31st pick, the Suns selected Élie Okobo out of France. Okobo had a breakout season with Pau-Orthez in 2017-18.

“We had Élie rated a lot higher than early in the second round,” McDonough said. “He really impressed us with size, athleticism (and) shooting. He’s still developing as a player, but he’s made rapid progress over the last six months or so.”

With their last pick in the 2018 Draft, the Suns chose George King out of Colorado. McDonough said King is likely to be put in a two-way slot in order to free up a roster spot.

In all, the Draft went basically as the Suns wanted it to. They got their big guy in Ayton and were able to trade up to get who they wanted in Bridges, which had been their intention all along.

“We have a point guard in Okobo, we have a 2-3 in King, a 3-4 in Bridges and a five in Deandre Ayton,” McDonough said. “We like that positional balance and the opportunity for those guys to grow and advance together.”