PHOENIX SUNS

Suns nab French guard Elie Okobo with 31st overall pick in NBA Draft

Jun 21, 2018, 8:00 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2018, 2:02 am
Joonas Tahvanainen of Finland, left attempts to block Elle-Frank Okobo of France during the basketb...
Joonas Tahvanainen of Finland, left attempts to block Elle-Frank Okobo of France during the basketball FIBA U20 European Championship Tournament game Finland vs France in Helsinki, Finland Tuesday July 19, 2016. (Martti Kainulainen/Lehtikuva via AP)
(Martti Kainulainen/Lehtikuva via AP)

After nabbing two rookies ready to contribute immediately in Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, the Phoenix Suns went the other direction to start the second round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, selecting fast-rising French point guard Elie Okobo with the 31st overall pick.

Okobo will join the Suns for the 2017-18 season despite being a candidate to be a draft-and-stash prospect, reports 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound lefty who played last season for Pau-Lacq-Orthez in France’s Pro A league was one of the fastest-rising prospects in the last month after a 44-point outburst in late May.

Okobo, who worked out for Phoenix, said he has a buyout in his contract and is ready to make the jump to the NBA.

“Well, if you saw him a few years ago, he wasn’t a guy who passed it a ton,” said Suns assistant general manager Pat Connelly after a June 4 workout. “This year at Pau, he got the opportunity to be a point guard. His playmaking got a lot better, especially on the pick-and-roll. He’s got a good pace, he can really score, obviously, as evidenced by that 44-point game against Monaco … he’s had a nice year.”

At a big 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, Connelly said Okobo had showed improvement on the defensive side of the ball.

“I’m trying to show them that I can pass the ball, too, play as a point guard and then bring energy in defense and offense,” Okobo said after his workout. “(Scouts and NBA executives) say they like the way I am on the court. They say I am very mature because I play against pros. They like my passing game, my scoring ability.”

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