The 2016 NBA Draft has come and gone and the Suns came away with three new members of their organization. The selected Dragan Bender fourth overall, traded up to select Marquese Chriss eighth overall and then Tyler Ulis 34th overall. Here is what General Manager Ryan McDonough and head coach Earl Watson had to say at the conclusion of the evening.
McDonough on Selecting Dragan Bender with Fourth Pick: Dragan has the size, the length and the passing ability and the ability move on the perimeter that is rare and unique. A couple years ago at the U18 European Championships. I believe he was 17 at the time. Then he was considered maybe the number one pick in this year’s draft. We really liked what we saw with him.
McDonough on trading for the Eighth Pick and Selecting Marquese Chriss: My goodness. An explosive athlete, vertical player, was a football player, got hurt and took on the game late. He is a unique player and a unique talent.
Figuring out which to draft fourth overall: We went back and fourth and deliberated for weeks now and then earlier today, we talked about getting both of them. It seemed unlikely given where we had them rated. But we came up with a concept. Tried to get picks behind us starting at 5, 6, 7 and then Sacramento at 8. They liked what we had to offer and we were ecstatic when Marquese was there at 8.
How NBA Ready are Bender and Chriss: I think they are a ways away. I’ll be honest with you. Take Dragan Bender for instance, he’s 18, he’s the youngest player in this draft, he’s younger than Devin Booker was a year ago who was the youngest player in last year’s draft and if he were born six weeks earlier, he wouldn’t have been eligible for this year’s draft…Marquese Chriss, if you watched his progression throughout the year, he struggled throughout the year especially with foul trouble. He just kept getting better and better and better…We are elated to have both of those guys.
On Selecting Tyler Ulis 34th overall in the second round: I felt it had been too long since we drafted a Kentucky guard. Tyler I belive was the SEC player of the year and the defensive player of the year. Obviously he’s small and size and length and all that sell in the draft. But he’s tough, he’s smart and he’s a winner.
Watson on the 2016 selections: Marquese, Dragan, Tyler are all unique players. Tyler is unique for his size. Marquese and Bender can go some things I haven’t seen players do in the NBA in a long time. So to get this draft process started and for Ryan and his staff to execute their vision, for me as a cough I am just lucky to have a front office that actually gets it done.
Watson on what makes Bender and Chriss great for them: The positive is that both guys can shoot threes. Off pin-downs, off the move, both guys can switch off pick-n-roll’s at any time. Bender to me has the ability to play on the perimeter, he can handle the ball really well and he is open to growing and that’s always a positive. Marquese is truly unique. He is a guy who can play above the square literally the way he jumps and the way he’s got a shot from the elbow is unique. He reminds me a lot of LeMarcus (Aldridge).