Suns Win Lottery, Will Select First Overall in 2018 NBA Draft

For the first time in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns were awarded the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, winning the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery held tonight in Chicago. The Suns had a 25.0 percent probability of winning the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, highest of any team participating in the Lottery. 

“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, who will draft for the 51st time this year, have never before drafted higher than second overall, most recently selecting Armen Gilliam with the second pick of the 1987 NBA Draft. The Suns also used the second overall pick to select Neal Walk in 1969, given the No. 2 pick on March 19, 1969, after losing a coin flip with Milwaukee to determine which team received the No. 1 pick and, eventually, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The list of players selected first overall features some of the most legendary names in NBA history, including Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon. Since 1966, 10 first overall picks have become NBA MVP award winners and 14 are Hall of Famers, not counting several more who are certain to be inducted once eligible. In the Lottery Era (since 1985), nearly half of the players to be selected No. 1 have gone on to win NBA Rookie of the Year and 22 have become All-Stars at some point in their careers with a combined 136 All-Star appearances. 

By hitting on their 25.0 percent chance to win the top pick, this is the fourth consecutive Lottery in which the team with the highest probability of winning the No. 1 pick won it. Prior to this now four-year run, the team with the best odds of winning the first pick hadn’t done so in 10 straight Lotteries from 2005-2014.

The Suns were represented on stage at the lottery by forward Josh Jackson, who ranked second among NBA rookies by averaging 17.2 points after New Year’s this past season. The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Jackson ended the season by scoring at least 15 points in each of his final 12 games, the longest such streak by a Suns rookie since Walter Davis in 1978.

Jackson was joined in Chicago by Jazmyne Weber, a 9-year-old Suns fan from El Mirage, Arizona. Jazmyne, who was diagnosed with spina bifida while still in the womb, is passionate about basketball and always cheers loudly for her favorite team, the Phoenix Suns. Her bright, positive attitude is infectious and a source of inspiration for her family. Jazmyne was joined on the trip to Chicago by her mother, Tordis Cooks, and 12-year-old sister, Jhaviana Cooks, and spent the day touring the Windy City with Jackson before the historic event that landed the Suns the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history. 

Jackson surprised Jazmyne with an invitation to attend the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery last week after she thought she was attending just another day of physical therapy. The Suns also presented Jazmyne with a personalized sports wheelchair to help her pursue her passion of playing wheelchair basketball. The Suns were alerted to Jazmyne’s story thanks to their partnership with HopeKids, which provides events and a support community for families who have a child with a life-threatening medical condition.

In Arizona professional sports history, the Phoenix Mercury have drafted first overall on three occasions and those three No. 1 picks have directly contributed to the team’s three WNBA Championships: Diana Taurasi, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, was taken first overall in 2004 and has won three titles with the Mercury; the first pick in 2007 was used to acquire Tangela Smith who helped the Mercury win titles in 2007 and 2009; and Brittney Griner was taken first overall in 2013, helping the Mercury to the title in 2014. The Arizona Diamondbacks have twice selected first overall in MLB’s draft, taking Justin Upton in 2005 and Dansby Swanson in 2015. Neither the Arizona Cardinals nor Arizona Coyotes have selected first overall in the NFL Draft nor NHL Draft since the franchises moved to the state.  

The Suns own four overall selections in the 2018 NBA Draft, including two of the top 16 and three of the top 31. In addition to the No. 1 overall pick, the Suns possess the No. 16 (via Miami), No. 31 and No. 59 (via Toronto) selections. The 2018 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 21, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and televised on ESPN at 4 p.m. (Phoenix time).