After 50 Years, The Phoenix Suns Finally Hold the First Overall Pick

by Cody Cunningham

In 1969, we lost the coin flip.

In 1987, the old lottery system defeated us.

In 2018, lady luck is finally on our side.

It took 51 drafts, but the Suns landed the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history. Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones summed up Suns fans feelings just minutes after their card was drawn number one during the NBA Draft Lottery.

"I’m stoked man. Why shouldn’t I be?” James said.

It had been a long journey for the franchise and Suns fans everywhere, but the relief and celebration finally set in when Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum announced that the franchise would finally select first.

“This is a historic night for the Phoenix Suns,” said General Manager Ryan McDonough. “Those of us in the room in Chicago felt the tension, then it was an unbelievable feeling to see it revealed that we received the No. 1 selection. In the illustrious history of the franchise, we’ve never had the first overall pick and to bring it home in such a loaded draft at an important point in time for our franchise, it’s incredible.”

The Suns may owe their good luck to their Executive Vice President Jim Pitman. The team had Pitman sit in as the Suns representative during the actual lottery about an hour prior to the broadcast. As the General Manager of the Phoenix Mercury, he has also led the Mercury to the first overall pick three times, including the selection of the WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi.

“Hopefully we aren’t in this position for a long time, but if we are I feel like Jim is going to be in that backroom again,” McDonough said.

With years of bad lottery luck behind them, the Suns head into the highly anticipated 2018 NBA Draft with the opportunity to add another franchise piece to their talented young core.

"Knowing the caliber of players that are at the top of the draft, to be in a position to draft number one is a great position of strength for us,” James said.

The Suns now officially hold the first overall pick as well as the 16th, 31st and 59th selections. It will be a busy month in Phoenix as the team will be working out players for practically the entire draft range.

“I think when you start the draft and virtually end the draft at 59 then you have to cast a wide net,” McDonough said. “We’re prepared for that. It will be an exciting month or so in Phoenix." 

Besides just overall talent, there are many intangibles McDonough said that the team will look for when choosing their selection.

“Obviously, all the guys in the grouping we look at have a high level of talent,” McDonough said. “Where we dig deeper is the mentality, the work ethic, the basketball IQ. I think some of that we can see on film. Some of that we see from our in-person scouting. A lot of it will be part of the interview process and workout process.”

For anyone speculating that because the Suns are now on the clock they know who they are selecting, McDonough only wishes it was that easy.

“Well if I did, I would go on vacation and go to Hawaii or something for the next month and come back and select somebody,” McDonough said. “In all seriousness, we have a handful of players in mind. We’ll workout as many guys as we can to be in that mix.”

For the first time ever no one stands in front of the Suns in the NBA Draft order. Whoever they want, they will get. The luck is there. The core is there. It’s time for Phoenix to rise. 

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