PHOENIX — At the moment, the Phoenix Suns hold the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
It’s where they were slotted a year ago, and it marks the highest the Suns have been slotted in the five years Ryan McDonough has been the general manager.
Might that change, however?
There remains quite a bit of time between now and Thursday, when commissioner Adam Silver steps to the podium to announce the Philadelphia 76ers are on the clock.
In recent days, the Suns have been the subject, and often the sole focus, of trade talk.
McDonough, though, appeared to distance his team from any potential movement.
“I think we’re very comfortable at four,” he said Monday, following the Suns final scheduled pre-draft workout. “I personally feel like there’s a drop-off kind of behind us in the mid-to-later lottery at some point. I don’t want to put an exact number on it. We have a good grouping of players that we know, regardless of who goes 1-2-3, we really like. (There’s) at least two, three, four guys who will be there at four or we think will be there at four. I think it’s less likely, but you never know.”
Already there’s been one trade. The aforementioned 76ers finalized their deal with the Boston Celtics to swap picks. The Celtics will now select third overall.
“The same two teams are picking ahead of us in the top three, just in a different order,” McDonough said. “There is a decent amount of unpredictability. I think at this point, there’s one player we feel won’t be there for sure at four and we’re prepared for just about every other scenario.”
That player would of course be Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, who is projected to go No. 1 overall.
The second player to come off the board Thursday is expected to be UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. He and the Lakers have seemed to be destined for one another for weeks now. There are scenarios, however, in which Ball may drop and potentially be available for the Suns to consider.
As of Monday, the Suns have not spoken to Ball.
“We’d like to, we’d like to,” McDonough said. “He’s probably the only one we haven’t talked to between the Chicago combine, in-person workouts, group-workouts, all those kind of things. But that may be able to be arranged between now and Thursday.”
To date, Ball has worked out for the Lakers, and the Lakers only.
“We would draft somebody without a workout,” McDonough said. “For me personally, the vast majority of what I go by in terms of my evaluations is what I’ve seen in games, five-on-five games. I think I get out a decent amount for a GM in terms of in-person scouting.”
The more likely scenario facing the Suns is a choice between Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac, Kansas guard Josh Jackson and Duke forward Jayson Tatum.
McDonough has been steadfast in saying the best player available will be the pick. Need won’t be a factor. Each of those four players, though, offers something different. Some are more offense-oriented, others defense-oriented.
“That’s the challenge is do you look at your current roster and factor in just that or do you say look, we’re just going to take who we think is going to have the best career. I think it’s more the latter,” McDonough said. “Obviously as a group we need to get to get better defensively. We also need to add more shooting.”
Among the rumors swirling around the Suns given their multitude of assets, both in terms of draft picks and salary cap space, is their ability to help facilitate a trade between two teams. How that might affect their draft day is unclear.
”It’s something we’re open to for sure,” McDonough said. “I think if we did facilitate a deal, obviously it would have to make sense for us. I think if we were to slot a player we’d look for somebody in the range of our core guys, from I guess 19 to 27 in that range; kind of with our teenagers up to (Eric) Bledsoe’s age. We’ll look at all that. We’ve received a number of calls. If that doesn’t happen, we’re very comfortable at four, but those discussions will take place for sure over the next three or four days.”
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