BROOKLYN, N.Y. - For the first time in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns had the first pick at the National Basketball Association draft Thursday and they looked close to home, choosing the University of Arizona center Deandre Ayton.
To be able to pull off the trade with the 76ers to acquire Bridges' draft rights, the Suns had to trade pick #16 and Miami's unprotected 2021 first round pick that was acquired when the Suns traded Goran Dragic. "I was just really excited to get to Atlanta".
"As soon as my mom and I made a decision that we were going to stay here and make Arizona our second home, we had to adapt to how American life is", Ayton said. I just did the routine everyone else is supposed to do and I just soaked in and enjoyed the moment. "It was just priceless".
Aside from drafting Ayton, the Suns also drafted Zhaire Smith who was then subsequently traded to Philadelphia for Mikal Bridges, a three-and-D player. If there's a weakness, it's his defense, although he has all the tools to be a quality rim protector given time. While breaking down the pick, on-air analysts started to compare Ayton to Joel Embiid.
"Most definitely", he said. "I haven't had the exposure in college to really guard big men, or the big men that I guard haven't really touched the ball or really do what they were supposed to do". The Suns are clearly enthralled with the idea of having a dominant big man down low to build their team around. His ability to defend the likes of Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook will determine whether he can exclusively be an offensive weapon or develop into a transcendent big man at both ends of the floor like Joel Embiid.
The Mavericks are coming off consecutive losing seasons for the first time in almost 20 years, back when Nowitzki ended up being the centerpiece of a rebuilding project that led to 12 straight trips to the playoffs and the franchise's only championship in 2011.
Ayton won't have to get adjusted to his new zip code.
Born in the Bahamas, Ayton, who turns 20 next month, moved to Phoenix during high school and says the majority of his family now live in Arizona.
"I've always loved giving back, especially when you're standing in the position that I'm in", King said.
Ayton may not average 20 and 10 as rookie because, well, basically no one other than Tim Duncan actually does that.
Ayton said he wants to be the "best two-way (big) man coming in". "We've got young legs".
The Phoenix Suns have the No. 1 pick for the first time in franchise history and are expected to take the 7-foot-1 Ayton. I think they have one of the best young coaches in Eric Spoelstra.
The drafts sees teams select the best young college players and eligible global talent.
Ayton's tenure with the Wildcats wasn't without controversy.
The Mavericks took another guard with the 33rd overall pick in the second round, getting Jalen Brunson, who won two NCAA titles in his three years at Villanova.