The NBA Draft Combine.
A dozen pre-draft workouts.
It’s been a busy six weeks for GM Ryan McDonough and his staff.
But the work didn’t begin in May. It began several months, even years earlier.
There have been trips overseas, stops at high school all-star games and college practices; not to mention all the games, whether taped, live or in-person.
And McDonough, getting ready for his 11th draft, makes sure his department sees a player more than once.
“I think it’s important to see these guys at different stages,” the first-year general manager said. “To see them in high school, to see them as they start their college career, to see their practice habits, to see if they play for USA Basketball or any of the junior national teams, see them in the high school all-star games. All of that, I think, is important just because you see the guy in different environments and the good ones, the really good ones, are usually pretty consistently good across all of them.”
“We’re kind of limited in our access to the players and our interactions with them,” he continued. “We only have couple of months here before the draft to talk to them and get to know them, so prior to that; we try to see them in as many different stages of their development as we can.”
For example, New Mexico junior forward Tony Mitchell, who worked out for the Suns on June 10, played for Team USA in the 2011 FIBA Under-19 World Championship in Riga, Latvia. McDonough was there.
Providence freshman guard Ricky Ledo, in town for a workout on June 9, was ineligible to play this season, but was allowed to practice with the team. McDonough was there.
The 33-year-old McDonough is what you would call a basketball junkie.
It started a decade earlier in the video department with the Boston Celtics as a special assistant to basketball operations. He spent one season as director of amateur scouting, one season as director of international scouting and two seasons as director of player personnel before a promotion to assistant GM.
It’s never been a question of if he’s ready for June 27.
“I could have the draft today. I’d be fine. I’m ready to go if we can get the Commissioner to speed it up a little bit,” McDonough said with a smile.
He then added the following about the 74 players the Suns brought in for workouts, “We feel good in terms of the guys we’ve been able to bring in the gym. We scouted these guys all year, from their practices and games. The background information, I feel very comfortable we know all the guys’ work ethic and character and everything about them off the court right now.”