Jackson, Reed and Peters: How they became Phoenix Suns
PHOENIX – Weird. Unusual.
That’s how general manager Ryan McDonough described the NBA pre-draft process on Friday, when the Phoenix Suns formally introduced forward Josh Jackson, guard Davon Reed and forward Alec Peters, their three newest additions drafted the night before.
Had the Suns engaged in some pre-draft subterfuge to make sure Jackson fell to them and the No. 4 overall pick?
“I’d like to consult my attorney B.J. Armstrong,” McDonough joked, referring to Jackson’s agent.
What role the Suns may have had in Jackson canceling a scheduled workout with the Boston Celtics, who drafted third overall, is unclear.
“We tried to reschedule and it was just bad scheduling, bad timing so it really didn’t work out,” Jackson said. “If I could have, I probably would have worked out for them but I’m glad to be a Phoenix Sun, I’m glad to be here. I feel like everything worked out for the best yesterday.”
The same could be said for Reed and Peters, though for very different reasons.
Reed twice worked out for the Suns, including three days before he heard his named called in the second round with the 32nd overall pick. Reed had 18 total pre-draft workouts for 16 different teams, more than half the league.
“I was just very hopeful. I felt good about both my workouts and was blessed to have the opportunity to be here twice and I was just hopeful and blessed to be picked by them,” he said.
And then there’s Peters’ road to the Suns.
Unlike Jackson and Reed, Peters did not work out for the Suns. In fact, he did not work out for any teams ahead of the draft. A stress fracture in his right foot had prematurely ended his senior season at Valparaiso, and it kept Peters on the sidelines during the pre-draft process, leaving his immediate NBA future in doubt.
“It was extremely difficult. You kind of feel like you’re out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “The entire time you have everybody you know traveling around (to) different teams working out and I’m sitting back just going to physical therapy and doing my workouts by myself. It got pretty lonely, it got pretty hard but at the end of the day I knew I was going to get my opportunity and I couldn’t be happier to have my opportunity here in Phoenix.”
Peters met with the Suns, among a handful of teams, at the NBA Combine in Chicago.”
He blew us away in his interview. From what I remember, I think you were taking notes, Alec, right? Yeah, that’s a little bit unusual. I don’t even think the guys on my staff take notes. I’m not even sure they’re paying attention half the time,” McDonough said.
“Yeah, we weren’t able to work him out…but we watched the film and we really liked what we saw on the film, which, again, is a vast majority of how we project the guys who will play in the NBA.”
Peters, listed at 6-9 and 232 pounds, earned AP All-America Honorable Mention honors twice and was named the Horizon League Player of the Year after leading the conference in both scoring (23.0) and rebounding (10.1) as a senior.
The ability to hit the 3-pointer—Peters made 289 in his four years, second-most in league history—also stood out and why the Suns decided to choose him in the second round with the 54th overall pick.
Peters’ emotional reaction when the pick became official was captured on video and went viral on social media.
— Gavin Sullivan (@Illinois_Irish) June 23, 2017
“A lot of emotions going through my mind. A lot of angry from just seeing the seconds and the minutes tick away pick after pick not hearing your name; just a lot of anxiety from it. But, made it all worth it in the end,” he said. “Hearing your name called, getting the call from my agent knowing what was going to happen and trying to hold it in at the time. When you have all your family and your friends surrounding you at a time like that and all the people that were there from the beginning for me, it made it all that more special. Kind of had to bury my head in my hands a little bit. I didn’t want anybody to see me tear up a little bit, but it was a good moment for me.”
Again, three different journeys. One singular destination.
How Jackson, Reed and Peters may have found their way to holding up Suns uniforms at the conclusion of Friday’s introductory press conference is no longer important. What is is how they will now immerse themselves in the Suns and help a franchise end its seven-year playoff drought.
“These three guys sitting to the right of me, they’re all tough,” head coach Earl Watson said. “There’s a lot of toughness up here with high character. That’s really rare. We know these three young men are going to fit well into our community and into our family. We’re excited to get them here.”