Say what you want about Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough... and believe me I’ve said some inflammatory things... but he has made a point of building through the draft and successfully acquired the means to do so.
The verdict is still out on whether his picks will develop into a core that can lead the Suns to a championship, but he’s given himself plenty of opportunities.
Since 2014, the Suns have made more first round selections than any other team in the NBA.
All 10 of those didn’t actually wear a Suns’ uniform.
Several of them were included in draft day trades... that ultimately landed the Suns a total of FIVE top 10 picks in the last three drafts.
More than any other team.
Here’s a detailed timeline of how McDonough went about acquiring all those picks.
Information courtesy BasketballReference.com
July 27, 2013: Traded Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a 2014 1st round draft pick (Bogdan Bogdanovic was later selected).
October 25, 2013: Traded Shannon Brown, Marcin Gortat, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall to the Washington Wizards for Emeka Okafor and a 2014 1st round draft pick (Tyler Ennis was later selected). Pick was top 12 protected.
PLUS THREE, FOUR & FIVE... MINUS INHERITED LAKERS PICK
February 19, 2015: As part of a three team trade, the Phoenix Suns traded Goran Dragic and Zoran Dragic to the Miami Heat; the Miami Heat traded Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton and Shawne Williams to the New Orleans Pelicans; the Miami Heat traded Danny Granger, a 2017 1st round draft pick and a 2021 1st round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns; and the New Orleans Pelicans traded John Salmons to the Phoenix Suns. 2017 1st round pick was top 7 protected. 2021 1st round pick is unprotected.
February 19, 2015: As part of a three team trade, the Phoenix Suns traded a 2018 1st round draft pick (Mikal Bridges was later selected) to the Philadelphia 76ers; the Phoenix Suns traded Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee to the Milwaukee Bucks; the Milwaukee Bucks traded Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to the Phoenix Suns; and the Philadelphia 76ers traded Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks.
February 19, 2015: As part of a 3-team trade, the Phoenix Suns traded Isaiah Thomas to the Boston Celtics; the Boston Celtics traded Tayshaun Prince to the Detroit Pistons; the Boston Celtics traded Marcus Thornton and a 2016 1st round draft pick (Skal Labissiere was later selected) to the Phoenix Suns; and the Detroit Pistons traded Gigi Datome and Jonas Jerebko to the Boston Celtics. Phoenix 2016 1st round pick received from Boston was Cleveland’s pick and was top 10 protected.
February 18, 2016: Traded Markieff Morris to the Washington Wizards for DeJuan Blair, Kris Humphries and a 2016 1st round draft pick (Georgios Papagiannis was later selected). 2016 1st round pick was top 9 protected.
November 7, 2017: Traded Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks for Greg Monroe, a 2018 2nd round draft pick and a 2019 1st round draft pick. Phoenix receives 2018 1st round pick if it falls between 11 & 16; 2019 if between 4 & 16; 2020 if outside top 7; and unprotected in 2021.
CASHED IN ONE, FIVE & SIX
June 23, 2016: Traded Bogdan Bogdanovic (2014 #27), Skal Labissiere (2016 #28), Georgios Papagiannis (2016 #13) and a 2020 2nd round draft pick to the Sacramento Kings for Marquese Chriss (2016 #8).
CASHED IN THREE & FOUR
June 21, 2018: Traded Zhaire Smith (2018 #16) and a 2021 1st round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Mikal Bridges (2018 #10). Philadelphia receives Miami 2021 1st round pick from Phoenix.
Interestingly enough, a lot of McDonough’s asset collection was the byproduct of making the best out of situations caused by his own mismanagement.
Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic, Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe all left in the midst of broken relationships, bordering on contemptuous public displays. The fact that there was no love lost was well known, and McDonough even made what some perceived to be unnecessary parting shots in the form of acrid remarks.
But all four of those netted the Suns first round picks, and in the case of Dragic it was two.
Those extra picks gave him the ammunition he needed to trade up into the top 10 twice in three years to make an extra selection.
Now it’s just a case of whether Ryan’s lottery picks of Dragan Bender (2016 #4), Marquese Chriss (2016 #8), Josh Jackson (2017 #4), Deandre Ayton (2018 #1) and Mikal Bridges (2018 #10) will pan out.
So far Bender and Chriss have underwhelmed and Jackson’s rookie season was uneven, but fortune finally shining on the Suns with this year’s #1 selection might be the tipping point to return the Suns to relevancy.
The totality of McDonough’s trades is suspect.
Some would say he sold for pennies on the dollar in many cases.
But he also saved those pennies and put them back in the NBA’s version of a slot machine.
McDonough still has to show he knows how to construct a balanced NBA roster capable of winning games.
He needs to show that he can coax a big time free agent to come to the valley.
He still has to show he has learned his lessons regarding the handling of personnel and public relations.
His shaky draft record needs to be ameliorated by his 2017 and 2018 draftees.
His overall resume as Suns’ GM is shaky at best.
But one thing is readily apparent...
Ryan McDonough has made a concerted effort to give the Suns extra shots in the draft.
And he has succeeded.