After Monday’s final pre-draft workout for the Suns, the media spoke with general manager Ryan McDonough this time instead of assistant Tim Connelly. Heading into possibly the most important draft in McDonough’s tenure thus far, lots of topics were discussed.
Some answers to me really gave some context clues, and an area I will be dissecting further on the site as Thursday inches closer and closer.
Check out the transcription of the 10-minute session below, and let me know what your thoughts were on what he had to say, Bright Side readers.
On how predictable the draft is at the top currently: “I think I’d sleep better if it were more predictable. There’s obviously a lot of moving parts, including the rumored trade between Boston and Philly, so that obviously doesn’t change the fact they we are picking at four. The same two teams are picking ahead of us, just in a different order. So, there is a decent amount of unpredictability. At this point, we feel like there’s one who won’t be there for sure at four and we’re prepared for just about any other scenario.
Suns’ draft board close to being set?: “It will be over the next couple of days. We always wait until our last workout. Over the next few days, we’ll have a meeting with our medical team to go over all the medical information we have, everybody checks out soundly we’re interested in. At that point, the scouts will submit their rankings to me, Earl, and Robert, and then we’ll meet as a group to go over it. I think that’s an evolving process. Obviously, it’s subject to change if you get last-minute information on say Wednesday or Thursday, but it will be set over the next couple of days. Right before the draft, we usually explore trade possibilities as well.
The possibility of moving around Thursday night: “You never know. I think we’re comfortable at four, I personally feel like there is a drop off behind us in the mid to later lottery at some point, I don’t want to put an exact number on it, but we have good players regardless who goes one, two, three we really like at least two, three, four guys who will be there at four or we think will be there at four. I think it’s less likely, you never know. Like we saw with the rumored Boston-Philly deal, things may happen that you might not have foreseen that you may not have thought were possible. I think on the Monday before the draft last year, we didn't think a top-eight pick in addition to four was possible and that ended up coming together on Thursday morning into Thursday afternoon right as the draft started.”
Fit versus BPA: “We’re going to take the best player. I think that will most likely be a guard or a wing, both of those at some level are needs for us. We obviously drafted the two young bigs last year in the lottery that we were very high on in Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. So, we’ll take the best player. Luckily, the way the draft works this year, the best players are guards and wings. That’s potentially what we need.”
Will the Suns meet with Lonzo Ball before Thursday?: “We’d like to. I think most of the top prospects, the projected high to mid lottery guys, have already started matriculating to New York, so that may have to be a phone conversation. We would like to talk to (all of the prospects). Through the whole group, he’s probably the only one we haven’t talked to between the Chicago combine, in-person workouts, group workouts, all those kinds of things. That may be able to be arranged between now and Thursday.”
Thoughts from Monday’s workout and bringing prospects back in for a second look: “We’ve done this a few times, we don’t do it every year, but most years whenever we can, we try to go through our first workouts and say, “Alright who stood out? Who do we like?” It’s a grueling process for these guys. I addressed the group at the end of it, congratulated them for being here. What I mean by that is some of the top prospects might have one-on-zero workouts and be able to dictate the terms a little more. These guys are not in that category. These guys are out there grinding. I think if you ask them, some of them had 15, 16, 18 workouts which is brutal. Not only in terms of the on-court competitiveness but physical toll it takes on your body, travel, so we thanked them for that. This was the best workout we’ve had in terms of the level of play, in terms of intensity. I think that tells you about the character and experience of this group. They’re willing to come out and grind and beat each other up a little bit and try to earn the 32nd pick. We told them, as looking around, sometimes you might have a filler guy or two who doesn’t have a chance to get drafted, but I didn’t feel that way about this group. I think there’s a good chance at least four, five, maybe all six of these guys get there on Thursday night.”
Will the Suns draft a player who hasn’t worked out for them at No. 4?: “It’s a good question. We would draft somebody without a workout to answer your question. I probably wouldn’t have said that before the process, I want the agents here not ten guys in, but now the process is over. Yes, we would draft a player without a workout. For me personally, the vast majority of what I go by in terms of my evaluations is what I see in games, five-on-five games. I think I get out a decent amount for a GM, in terms of in-person scouting. Our staff does a great job on the grind year-round. College practices, games, international practices, and games as well, so, yeah, we’d draft a player we haven’t seen in person or haven't had into workout. Obviously the medical is an important piece of it, too, part of the meetings we’ll have over the next couple of days to go over all of that. See if there’s anything we have any concerns about or anything else we need to track down last-minute, but for me what they did in actual games not just in college but could be back in high school, could be in high-level AAU tournaments, could be in international tournaments or wherever. For me, that’s the most important things. Obviously, that’s the most like what they’ll be doing in a couple of weeks when they go to Las Vegas and lace em up and play five-on-five.
Tatum, Jackson, and Isaac’s fit on the roster be a deciding factor?: “A little, it will be a little bit. The wings in that range all have special ability and that’s the challenge. When you look at your current roster and factor in just that or do we just take who we think is going to have the best career. I think it’s more the latter. Obviously, as a group we need to get better defensively, we also need to add more shooting. You can address those in a number of ways. As you guys know, we’re projected to have a lot of salary cap space as well, so in my opinion, it’s not that if we don’t draft a need in the draft we’re done. No, we have other ways to add to it either in free agency or via trade or with our second round picks.”
Is Phoenix open to helping facilitate a trade as the third team?: “Yeah, something we're open to for sure. I think if we did facilitate a deal, obviously it would have to make sense for us. I think if we were to slot a player, we’d look for somebody in the range of our core guys from this 19-27, in that range kind of with our teenagers up to Bledsoe’s age. So, we’ll look at all of that. We’ve received a number of calls. As you guys know, in addition to four, 32, and 54, we have all of our own picks going forward. We have the two Miami firsts coming to play with. We have cap space now to facilitate a deal and then we’re projected to have s lot of cap space after July 1, so we’ll look at al lof that. We’ve been receiving calls. If that doesn’t happen, we’re very comfortable at four, but those discussions for sure will take place over the next three or four days.”