Suns Add Ayton, Bridges, Okobo, King In 2018 NBA Draft
After selecting Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the first No. 1 overall pick in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns added Villanova forward Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 overall pick, in a trade with Philadelphia and also selected French guard Élie Okobo with the No. 31 pick and Colorado forward George King with the No. 59 pick.
Bridges, a versatile defender and knockdown three-point shooter, won the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award in 2017-18 while helping Villanova win their second NCAA Championship in his three seasons at the school. A 6-7, 210-pound wing, he averaged 17.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals for the champs, while shooting 51.4 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from three-point range (18th best in the nation) and 85.1 percent from the free throw line. The 21-year-old earned Third Team All-America honors and was named to the All-Final Four Team after averaging 17.2 points in the NCAA tournament including 19 in the title game victory over Michigan.
Expanding his role in each of his three seasons at Villanova, Bridges averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 116 total games, shooting 52.5 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from long range and 84.5 percent from the stripe. After redshirting the 2014-15 season, his length created havoc defensively on the Wildcats’ 2015-16 NCAA Championship team before he was a co-winner of the Big East Defensive Player of the Year award in 2016-17. A native of Philadelphia, Bridges starred at Great Valley High School in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
The Suns acquired the rights to Bridges from the 76ers in exchange for the rights to the 16th overall pick (Zhaire Smith) and Miami’s 2021 first-round pick.
Okobo, a natural scorer who has made strides running the point, had a breakout season playing for Pau-Lacq-Orthez of France’s top league, LNB Pro A. In 34 games this past season, the 20-year-old led his team with 12.9 points, 4.8 assists and 2.7 steals, shooting 47.5 percent from the field, 39.4 percent from three-point range and 81.9 percent from the free throw line. The 6-2, 180-pound guard scored a career-high 44 points including eight three-pointers on May 23 against top-seeded Monaco in the first round of playoffs. A contender for Pro A’s Most Improved Player Award, he was a 2017-18 All-Star selection, recording 17 points and a game-high 17 assists in the All-Star Game.
A native of Bordeaux, France, Okobo began playing for Espoirs Pau-Lacq-Orthez, the training center for the senior team in the Pro A league, at age 16 in 2014. He made his LNB Pro A debut in 2015, playing eight games in France’s top league in 2015-16 and 22 games in 2016-17 before his breakthrough 2017-18 season. Okobo has also represented France in international competition, leading the French to a bronze medal at the 2017 FIBA U20 European Championship in Greece, and ranking third in scoring at the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship in Finland with 18.9 points per game.
King, an active defender and tough rebounder, ranks second in Colorado history with a career three-point percentage of 40.1 percent. The 6-6, 225-pound wing averaged 12.5 points and 6.4 rebounds over his final three seasons in Boulder, named to the 2017-18 All-Pac-12 Second Team as a senior and winning the 2015-16 Pac-12 Conference Most Improved Player of the Year award as a sophomore. After playing as a freshman in 2013-14 then redshirting in 2014-15, King was one of the Pac-12’s most versatile players the past three seasons, able to defend multiple positions, rebound from the wing and make three-pointers.
The 24-year-old’s draft stock soared following his senior season when he was the East MVP at the 2018 NABC College All-Star Game, finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. He then stood out at the 2018 Portsmouth Invitational, named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 18.0 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 57.9 percent from the field. Raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, before attending high school at Brennan in San Antonio, Texas, his mother is a 25-year veteran of the Air Force.
The Suns added Bridges, Okobo and King after making Ayton the first No. 1 overall pick in franchise history earlier in the evening. Ayton, who played collegiately at Arizona and in high school at Phoenix’s Hillcrest Prep, is the first No. 1 pick in NBA history to be selected by a team in the same state where he played in both college and high school.
A rare combination of size and skill, the 7-1, 250-pounder possesses uncommon athleticism, footwork and shooting touch for a player with his length and strength. During his one season in Tucson, the 19-year-old was a Consensus First Team All-America selection and won the 2018 Karl Malone Award given to the nation’s best power forward. Ayton averaged 20.1 points on 61.2 percent shooting, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for Arizona, becoming the first to win Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors in the same season.
He set a Wildcats record and Pac-12 freshman record with 24 double-doubles, and became just the sixth freshman nationally in the past 25 years to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds (two of the others were Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony). Ayton set Arizona freshman season records in points (704), rebounds (405), blocks (66) and field goal percentage (.612) while also being named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
Ayton played the final two seasons of his high school career at Phoenix’s Hillcrest Prep. As a senior in 2016-17, he led the Bruins to a 33-6 record and The Grind Session National Championship, averaging 26 points, 15 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. Among his many honors, he was a McDonald’s All-American, Naismith Trophy High School All-American, USA TODAY ALL-USA First Team selection, and played in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit.
Born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, Ayton began seriously pursing basketball at age 12 after attending the Jeff Rodgers Basketball Camp, the Bahamas’ premier summer basketball program. Ayton flashed his immense potential and later that summer moved to San Diego to attend Balboa City School. He would later transfer to Hillcrest Prep and move to Phoenix to live with his family.