PHOENIX (AP) — A high-scoring 20-year-old forward and pass-first 19-year-old point guard were the top two picks of the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night in the NBA draft.
The Suns made T.J. Warren of North Carolina State, the ACC player of the year, the 14th player chosen overall.
Four picks later, Phoenix chose point guard Tyler Ennis of Syracuse. With its third first-round selection, Phoenix selected Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic at No. 27.
Warren, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound small forward, averaged 24.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, shooting 53 percent from the field, as a sophomore last season.
A second-team All-American, Warren became the third player in ACC history to lead the conference in scoring and field goal percentage.
Last season, he scored 41 points against Pittsburgh and a career-high 42 in a win over Boston College.
In all, Warren had nine games of 30 points or more. He is not known for outside shooting, getting most of his points from mid-range and with creative moves around the basket.
“He has a unique ability to put the ball in the basket,” Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough said. “He’s got good size and strength, but more importantly he has terrific instincts and a fantastic touch around the basket. We feel he has a lot of things you can’t teach.
“He still needs to keep working on his outside shooting but we think he has a chance to be a pretty special offensive player.”
Warren worked out twice for the Suns.
“I kind of got a sense and feeling that I was a high priority for them,” he said via conference call. “I had strong outings at both workouts.
Warren said he knows how Phoenix plays.
“They like to get up and down, get easy transition buckets, push the tempo up a little bit,” he said. “I feel like my style of play really fits that, being able to run the floor hard and just picking my spots in transition.”
The selection of Ennis, from Toronto and the third Canadian selected Thursday, came despite the fact the Suns have a dynamic point guard duo in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.
“We wanted to keep adding to it,” McDonough said. “… We wanted to make sure that was a position of strength for us.”
Warren and Ennis play the same positions as two Phoenix restricted free agents — P.J. Tucker and Bledsoe. But McDonough said these picks were not chosen as replacements.
Ennis averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 assists per game. He was third in the nation with a 3.60 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“His composure at his age stands out,” McDonough said. “If you look at his numbers in close games, they were terrific, unbelievable what he did down the stretch with the game on the line.”
Ennis is well aware of the situation in Phoenix.
“I interviewed with them at the combine. I got to go out there and work out for the coaches and the front office,” he said. “I thought I had a really good workout. A lot of people question about the point guard situation but I’m happy to go in there and earn my keep, earn my minutes.”
Dragic and Bledsoe are big scorers, Ennis specializes in getting the ball to others.
“I think that’s something that really caught the front office’s and coaching staff’s eye,” Ennis said. “I’m a pure point guard, a pass-first guy who’s able to come in and make others better.”
They join a team coming off a surprising turnaround season. Phoenix went 38-34 the first year on the job for McDonough and coach Jeff Hornacek, barely missing the playoffs.
The 6-6 Bogdanovic averaged 14.8 points in the Euroleague and 15 points in the Adriatic League last season. He is under contract in Belgrade and McDonough said he could come to the NBA in one or two years.
With its second-round pick, Phoenix chose 7-foot-1 Alec Brown of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The 50th player chosen, Brown had an impressive shooting performance at the NBA combine. He is expected to play overseas, McDonough said, with the Suns retaining his rights.
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