Rapid Reaction: Who do Suns take at No. 1 in 2018 NBA Draft?
It actually happened.
After all the worry and feeling of inevitability surrounding the Phoenix Suns’ chances in the 2018 NBA Lottery, the franchise has its first No. 1 overall selection in franchise history.
After a quick celebration, the conversation quickly pivots to who the team selects at the top spot.
The debate for months has been between Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic, a debate that will surely intensify in the Valley over the next month.
Here’s what 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s hosts, producers, reporters and editors have to say on the matter.
Dan Bickley, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta
The narrative has changed. The Suns won’t be choosing from leftovers. They inherit the pressure of getting it right. And for the moment, the identity of our next highly-touted rookie is a decision that can wait. We’re going to enjoy this for a while.
The Suns won the draft lottery shortly after the Diamondbacks lost A.J. Pollock to a fractured thumb. The No. 1 pick will spark debate, spawn interest and sell tickets. We can all window shop until June 21, changing our minds whenever we choose. No other fan base in the NBA deserves this kind of momentum shift more than us.
John Gambadoro, Co-host of Burns & Gambo
Sacramento is now on the clock. Look, there is no way the Suns don’t take Deandre Ayton — he is a 7-foot, 260-pound manchild. He is the one can’t-fail prospect in this draft. He is a true rim protector and allows the Suns to not spend money unwisely on Clint Capella as an unrestricted free agent. He will start immediately and be backed up and learn from Tyson Chandler. The Suns now need shooters at the 1 and the 4 so they can space the floor. No need debating who Phoenix is taking. It will be Ayton.
Dave Burns, Co-host of Burns & Gambo
Hard to imagine they’d take anyone at this point other than Deandre Ayton. Of all the players in this draft, he has the best chance of being a transcendent player. Doesn’t mean the others don’t. Doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee his will. But you play the odds and the odds say Ayton has the best chance.
Vince Marotta, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta
You won’t find anyone who doubts the legitimacy of the NBA Draft Lottery and the Phoenix Suns’ historical place in it more than me.
That being said, I’m so glad I was wrong about my proclamation that Phoenix would end up with the fourth pick. The team’s faithful fan base needed something to celebrate, and they got it Tuesday night. Purple and orange confetti flew around the lower bowl of Talking Stick Resort Arena for the first time in a long time – at least related to the Suns (the Mercury have provided some confetti-worthy moments certainly).
Once the NBA Finals wrap up, the Suns will be the focal point of the basketball universe. It’s a good place to be for a franchise trying to get back to a prominent place in the league.
With the pick, the Suns should absolutely 100 percent select Deandre Ayton with the top pick. His size, skill and upside are too much to pass up. Now, I do look forward to digging into more research on Luka Doncic, and I’m sure he’s a fabulous talent, but the former Arizona big man should be the pick.
Doug Franz, Co-host of Doug & Wolf
I’m in shock. It’s amazing to think of what can be done offensively with Booker and Ayton, especially if Josh Jackson embraces the role of a defensive stopper.
Craig Grialou, Reporter
Choose wisely, Ryan McDonough. The right decision has the potential to set up your franchise for years to come. The wrong decision, and it will likely be one of your last decisions in your current position. Fair? No, but that’s how this works.
The question is which player to choose: Deandre Ayton or Luka Doncic? And there is no option C. I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know the answer.
I’ve seen Ayton play plenty of times and he’s phenomenal. A can’t-miss prospect, right? Then, again, so was Greg Oden.
I haven’t seen Doncic in action outside of a highlight or two but I do read and the opinion of many smarter than me is that Doncic can do things with a basketball that’s rarely seen in a player his size. And we know the NBA is all about playmakers.
The good news here is McDonough and the Suns have five weeks to do their homework. For now, it’s just nice to see the (ping-pong) ball bounce the Suns’ way for a change.
Luke Lapinski, Host of The Rundown
The eyes of the entire NBA will be on the Suns in the weeks leading up to June 21, and they have a legitimately tough decision to make. Everything you hear locally says Deandre Ayton is the automatic, slam dunk of a pick – and maybe he is.
That’s where we are now.
I just don’t want this to be skewed by the fact that we’re all familiar with him because he played down the street while Luka Doncic was suiting up 5,500 miles away. There are plenty of scouts outside this state who feel confident Doncic should go No. 1 so the Suns still need to do their due diligence here. They will, though, and having Igor Kokoskov in place should put them in position to make a pretty well-informed decision.
Kevin Zimmerman, Editor
Few people are as torn about who should be the No. 1 pick as me. Without getting into why Doncic has the edge over Ayton in my opinion and at this juncture, let’s take this moment to appreciate the moment — and even an opportunity to mess up the pick.
That’s a negative view of it, but more optimistically, the floors for the two best prospects in the 2018 draft are quite low compared to the options on the board the Suns have been faced with the last few lottery appearances, and the options they would have picked third or fourth this year.
There’s not much risk here and a lot of possibilities.
Kellan Olson, Editor
I am the only one you will read here who believes Doncic is easily the pick.
The key to fully unlocking Doncic’s potential is having a coach who knows how to use him and knows he works best with another primary ball-handler to share the duties with. You should not be running everything through Doncic. Igor Kokoskov knows that and knows Devin Booker is an outstanding fit next to Devin Booker.
I think Doncic is the best prospect, but I see the situation in Phoenix pushing him past any real debate over Deandre Ayton. I do, though, love what Kokoskov could do for Ayton, particularly his flaws in his attentiveness and off-ball demeanor.
Jon Bloom, Host
Deandre Ayton should be the pick for Phoenix for 2 BIG reasons. One, he is the most ready to play and we all know the Suns don’t have the time to take a player who may take an extended time to adjust to the NBA.
Number two, I think the key to this team taking the desired step and ending their run of futility is establishing defined roles for each and every player on the roster. This task could be tricky if they decide to go with EuroLeague wonderboy & Kellan Olson man crush Luka Doncic, despite the hot trend of “positionless basketball” in the NBA.
My ideal situation would be Ayton at No. 1 and then a move up from No. 16 to snag Oklahoma point guard Trae Young somewhere in the mid to late lottery, but that might be getting a bit greedy.