McDonough’s Suns just keep on rising


VIDEO: Tyler Ennis was a great get for the Suns just outside of the lottery Thursday night

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – No NBA general manager worth the many lies he’s told and heard in the days and weeks leading up to the Draft will tell you anything other than he got exactly what he wanted on the big night.

When Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough says it, he actually means it. The Suns walked away from the Draft the same way they did the 2013-14 regular season, the surprise winners without any actual hardware to show for it. You don’t need it when you continue to exceed expectations the way McDonough and his crew have.

They finished the regular season with 48 wins, one game out of the playoffs hunt in the rugged Western Conference, and we were rewarded with three first-round picks in a loaded Draft.

With no glaring holes on a roster that didn’t include a superstar anchor, they entered Thursday night without the pressure of filling any significant gaps or the need to wheel and deal to fix their team.

That allowed McDonough and his staff to zero in on talents that fit the Suns’ system and style to perfection. They snagged prolific-scoring ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren of N.C. State with the 14th pick, Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis with the 18th pick, Serbian shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic with the 27th pick and topped it off in the second round with 7-footer Alec Brown of Wisconsin Green Bay with the 50th pick overall.

“We think it was a great night for us,” McDonough told Suns.com after the Draft. “I feel like in the draft, with our four picks, we got a blend of a little bit of everything.”

“Sometimes you have to move or give up a lot, give up future picks, give up players to get exactly what you want. We didn’t have to do any of that. We just kind of stayed where we were and the guys fell to us.”

The Suns are in the rare position after a lottery season of controlling their own destiny moving forward. They extended qualifying offers Friday to both point guard Eric Bledsoe and small forward P.J. Tucker, giving them the right to match any offers to two players that played key roles in their resurgent season.

Sometimes teams have to reach and stretch to find security at certain positions, to add the needed depth and to fortify the roster. The Suns didn’t have to reach or stretch for anything. They played the board perfectly, riding the wave of the Draft with the bigger picture in mind and the security of knowing they could compete during an injury-filled season without resorting to any desperate moves.

It helps to have the perfect coach, too, in Jeff Hornacek and an All-NBA (third team) point guard in Goran Dragic anchoring things. Operating from a position of strength insulated the Suns from the craziness most lottery teams deal with this time of year. They didn’t have to surrender any of their cap flexibility to add the needed depth they found in the Draft and they can still be players when free agency kicks off July 1.

The Suns’ playoff drought is four years and counting, but you couldn’t tell by the way they are operating. They handled themselves this past season like a team that hadn’t missed a beat since the Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire era. Much of that was due to Hornacek and his mastering the chemistry of the lab experiment roster McDonough handed him before the start of the season.

Things could have gone horribly wrong if Dragic and Bledsoe hadn’t blended together as well as they did early, and if they weren’t able to weather the storm of injuries that plagued them and if role players like Gerald Green, Markieff and Marcus Morris, Channing Frye, Tucker and Miles Plumlee didn’t step up the way they did.

Whatever comes next comes on the Suns’ terms, at their own pace, which is more than any “lottery team” can ask for at this stage of the process.

One way or another, the Suns just keep on rising.


VIDEO: The Game Time crew weighs in on the Suns’ Draft haul

11 Comments

  1. Sure is a lot of positive talk coming out of Phoenix for a team that didn’t make the playoffs. I predict that they will be battling Golden State for the last playoff spot next year. They snuck up on teams last year, it won’t happen this year. Dallas and Memphis were the last teams in this year, both will be better next, and so will the Lakers w/Kobe, and Sacramento too providing they keep Thomas.

    Note: Carmelo Anthony didn’t make the NBA’s all pro team. This is unf*#*ing believeable.

    • Mike says:

      This team that didn’t make the playoffs, would have been seeded 3rd in the Eastern. They deserve to be talked about.

    • Lakers-Warriors-Suns says:

      Kobe won’t be that good though… But hey hopefully he can.

  2. Connor says:

    Talk about a cheerleading article! It’s like a public relations piece from the Phoenix Suns front office.

  3. slider821 says:

    Raptors really messed up taking that Brazilian kid who didn’t even need to be drafted, especially with their 20th pick. They should have taken ennis at 20 and the brazilian with their 37th pick. What were they thinking.

  4. The Spurs proved an NBA team doesn’t need a high draft pick to be great. The team needs great coaching.

  5. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    T.O. been bossing with some good players recently.

  6. TheKush says:

    Raptor fans are upset they didn’t get Ennis. Toronto would be an ideal location for him with the uncertainty of Kyle Lowry resigning. I don’t know if Ennis will be a good fit in Phoenix. if the suns can resign Bledsoe who I personally think will be injury prone his whole career Phoenix will be a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs for the next 5 years. Goran Dragic and Bledsoe are a perfect one two punch actually I just like the whole Suns team. Because of Bledsoes big body and his athleticism I see him as injury prone which is why he and Goran Dragic should work if Bledsoes injured I don’t think the Suns would miss a beat with Goran Dragic leading the team. I think Ennis would shine more in the Eastern Conference his syracuse game would translate well in the slower paced eastern conference.

    • RON says:

      That is just the point and the beauty of their draft they don’t have to overpay for either Tucker or Bledsoe and can have the option to sign and trade them to get another piece they need to really contend. What I would try do if they wanted to is see if Rudy Gay is a guy who could be an option or even Luol Deng or the Bucks Ilyasova. But they even have to do that either. Great draft by Suns. As an NBA fan sitting there watching it and knowing some of those players they took, and then comparing it with the fiasco my team made after taking Parker…it was impressive.