By the morning of the NBA Draft, Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough had altered his train of thought.
Throughout previous weeks, he and his staff had struggled in pinpointing which power forward prospect — Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss — was the better option with the fourth overall pick. On that fateful Thursday morning, he thought he could see a way to get them both.
On the Vertical Podcast with Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnorowski, McDonough explained the idea that snowballed into an avalanche of talent on draft night.
"We decided the most realistic thing for us would be to try to acquire another pick in the mid-lottery," McDonough said. "We thought it’d be difficult, if not impossible, to get another pick in the top 5 or 6 in addition to where we were picked at fourth. We went team by team and selectively figured out that Sacramento, at eight, was willing to part with the eighth pick."
“We went team by team and selectively figured out that Sacramento, at eight, was willing to part with the eighth pick.”
— Ryan McDonough
The Suns' front office predicted — correctly, it turned out — that if 1) Boston took California swingman Jaylen Brown and 2) Phoenix selected one of the two forwards, there would be a rush on the crop of lottery-quality guards still available. That logic proved sound as Minnesota (Chris Dunn), New Orleans (Buddy Hield) and Denver (Jamal Murray) all opted for backcourt talent with their respective picks.
Only when it became clear that the Suns could net Bender and Chriss did they pull the trigger on the Sacramento deal.
"I’ve been asked, "Would we have traded for the eighth pick, would we have given up what we gave up just for the eighth pick?'" McDonough said. "The answer is probably not. For us, the deal was contingent on Marquese Chriss being on the board. He was the player we targeted and wanted."
Now, the Suns find themselves with four players 20 years old or younger in Chriss (18), Bender (18), Devin Booker (19) and second-round pick Tyler Ulis (20). Throw in young veterans Alex Len (23), T.J. Warren (22) and Brandon Knight (24), and Phoenix appears to have young potential positioned to develop for years to come.
"We’re excited about the young group," McDonough said. "Certainly adding Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss to the core, along with Tyler Ulis — a young guy we got in the second round who we’re very high on as well — we’re certainly happy about how we’re positioned. I think and hope that as we build this thing over time tha those guys will develop and improve."
Suns Draft All-Access