Phoenix Suns win NBA draft lottery, will pick first
CHICAGO — The Phoenix Suns won the 2018 NBA draft lottery.
Barring a trade, this will be the Suns’ first No. 1 overall pick in franchise history, who after a league-worst 21-61 season, had the best odds to win the lottery. This is the fourth straight season in which the team with the best chance to end up with the No. 1 pick got the top spot.
The Suns have an interesting decision to make as the franchise has some familiarity with two of the top prospects in this year’s draft.
Big man DeAndre Ayton is expected to be one of the first players selected next month and he played in the Suns’ backyard at Arizona. He averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds in his only season with the Wildcats, earning the Pac-12 Player of the Year award. The 7-foot center dominated the NCAA to the tune of 24 double doubles on the year, the second most by a freshman in Division I history, behind only Michael Beasley who recorded 28 in 2007-2008 for Kansas State.
Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic has been on NBA radars for a while, earning the 2016-17 EuroLeague Rising Star award while growing his game overseas. At 19, Doncic already has the type of professional experience that scouts salivate over as he transitions to the NBA. New Suns coach Igor Kokoskov coached Doncic as the pair helped lead Slovenia to a gold medal in last year’s European Championship.
Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III became the first Blue Devil in history to lead the ACC in scoring and rebounding, averaging 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds a game. The 19-year-old helped lead Duke to the Elite Eight, becoming one of just five players in a major conference over the last 25 years to average 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and shoot 60 percent or higher from the field in a season. That list includes Ayton, who accomplished the same feat this season at Arizona, Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin (2008-09), Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan (1996-97) and Northwestern’s Evan Eschmeyer (1997-98).
This is the final year of this particular lottery system. Next season, the three worst teams in the regular season will each have a 14 percent chance to win the lottery, as compared to this year the Suns, who finished dead last in the league had a 25 percent chance to win the lottery, the Memphis Grizzlies a 19.9 percent chance and the Dallas Mavericks a 13.8 percent chance. The Grizzlies and Mavs instead landed at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.