One of the things that drew Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby to Ryan McDonough was the fact that McDonough, unlike former general manager Lance Blanks, is a good communicator.
A graduate of North Carolina with a degree in journalism and mass communication, McDonough is certainly that. He’s also someone who has gained a reputation for being a tireless worker and keen talent evaluator.
“He brings a lot and, first and foremost, he comes from a winning and championship environment and so that’s always reassuring and an important part,” Babby told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Tuesday. “In this business you want to bring in people who have been associated with success.”
McDonough had been with the Boston Celtics since 2003, serving in roles that included assistant GM, director of player personnel, director of international scouting, director of amateur scouting and special assistant to basketball operations. He played an integral role in them becoming a perennial championship contender, and is credited with identifying talents such as Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.
He’s also someone who, Babby said is a “good compliment” to himself.
“By that I mean, you know, just the age difference, his skill set and my skill set; I just think that he is a young up-and-coming guy who has tremendous communication skills,” he said.
That will be important as the Suns look to rebuild not only their roster but their image, as a general feeling of apathy has emerged in the Valley. However, the 33-year-old McDonough arrives with a fresh sense of optimism, as his new-age approach of focusing on analytics as well as other non-traditional scouting methods may just what the franchise needed.
“The Celtics are well-regarded in their analytics work,” Babby said, pointing to current Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey as someone who helped spawn the movement. “I think Ryan is in the forefront of this and it’s very, very important to us that we not only incorporate it into our talent evaluation, but that we incorporate it into our game preparation and our player development and every phase of what we’re doing.”
That’s not to say the Suns will rely solely on analytics, as Babby said one of the most intriguing things about McDonough is he’s well-rounded background in the game. He has spent time as a scout, so he knows what it’s like to hit the road and evaluate players, and he’s spent time in the video room, so he’s able to analyze what he sees on tape. So for a team that will rely heavily on the draft in the coming years like the Suns, it was important to find someone who would, in a sense, leave no stone unturned with regards to finding the right players.
“All of that leads you to believe that he is going to be a first-rate talent evaluator, and that’s what we need,” Babby said.