Deandre Ayton might be going back to Arizona after all. The same can be true for Marvin Bagley III. Or maybe Luka Doncic gets to reunite with his past coach.
The Phoenix Suns have a trio of fine candidates for the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
In various ways Authentic Joe Mixon Jersey , the team already has an element of familiarity with each one of them.
Ayton played his college ball at Arizona. Bagley, the Duke freshman star this past season, is an Arizona native. And Doncic, the Slovenian teen who has been tabbed a can’t-miss NBA prospect, won a title with new Suns coach Igor Kokoskov last summer – when they helped give the tiny nation its biggest sports win, a gold medal at the European Championships.
These are good days for the Suns, who have gone through three dreadful seasons and eight consecutive playoff-less campaigns. But they have a new coach in Kokoskov, a promising young core and after winning the draft lottery on Tuesday night, a chance to pick No. 1 overall at the draft in New York next month.
”It’s not a race,” said Josh Jackson, who just completed his rookie season with Phoenix and is part of that young group that the Suns believe will get them back into the playoff mix before long. ”We’re going to progress at our pace. Any progression is good progression, in my opinion. So wherever we are, hopefully we keep taking steps forward.”
This draft could be a big step forward.
Start with Ayton Mike McGlinchey 49ers Jersey , who averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds in his one college season at Arizona. He came to the U.S. from the Bahamas, hoping for great things but never expecting this would be the cards he was dealt.
”It’s God’s plan,” Ayton said.
Bagley was the Atlantic Coast Conference player and rookie of the year, leading the league in scoring (21.0 per game) and rebounding (11.1 per game). Unlike Ayton, he’s expected to work at the draft combine that commences in earnest in Chicago on Thursday, and he will be on the Suns’ radar.
He said he would obviously welcome the chance to go back to Arizona, where he was born and raised.
”It would mean a lot if it were to happen that way,” Bagley said.
Doncic will get plenty of support from Kokoskov, and others who know his game well – like Miami guard Goran Dragic – insist that he has the ability and intellect to make a quick impact in the NBA.
”It’s been a good month for us, a good week in particular,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. ”We targeted a three-year rebuilding window and I know it’s been a little bit controversial in some ways. … If you’re serious about winning a championship someday in the NBA, it’s really hard to build through the middle, so to speak.”
So three years ago Cheap Josh Allen Jersey , when they couldn’t convince LaMarcus Aldridge to come to Phoenix, the Suns decided it was time to push the reset button.
The results: They got budding stars in Devin Booker and Jackson, wound up creating some cap space to spend on veterans this summer, and will not only have the No. 1 pick but also two others in the top 31 selections in this draft.
”The future’s bright,” McDonough said. ”And our hope and our goal is to be a lot better next year.”
McDonough left the lottery holding a placard with a big red ”1” on it, and Jackson left with the one bearing the Suns logo that NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum displayed when announcing that Phoenix won the right to pick first.
The Suns aren’t holding all the cards.
They’re just holding the most important ones.
”We have a small target grouping in mind, but we’re not going to rule anything out at this point,” McDonough said. ”I think we’ll have a great choice, no matter who we select.”
Goran Dragic is going back to his native Slovenia in a few weeks for the summer. There’s a couple of weddings the Miami Heat guard needs to attend, a trip scheduled with his wife to Paris for a fashion show and probably even some pickup basketball to remind his friends that he’s an NBA All-Star and they aren’t.
And there will be some celebrating.
Winning the European title last summer is still a huge deal to Slovenians, which means Dragic’s homecoming will be a huge deal as well. He was recently voted as the most influential Slovenian, a poll conducted by media in that country who picked people from the sports world to the top six spots. No. 7 was U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, and No. 8 was Slovenian President Borut Pahor.
Leading that list shows what Dragic’s countrymen think of him Bradley Chubb Jersey , especially after he led the nation to probably its proudest sports moment.
”As soon I go out with my family, walk around the town, probably that’s going to be the time I’m going to start realizing how much that was a big deal,” Dragic said. ”We’ll see.”
”We’ll see” is a mantra of sorts for Dragic’s summer.
Even though Heat President Pat Riley said no one on the roster is untouchable if the right deal comes along, Dragic has made clear that he wants to stay in Miami – and let his bosses know as much. He raves about his house, the one with the newly upgraded landscaping because he intends to be there for a long time. He likes the makeup of the locker room, and has too many favorite restaurants in Miami to count.
Plus, he’s very much a fan favorite.
Out for dinner this week, Dragic was approached by about a dozen people seeking autographs or selfies – plus one who wanted him to have a video chat with a child home studying. Dragic never complained, routinely getting up from his soup, salad, broiled snapper and cappuccino nightcap to accommodate every request.
”This is where I want to be,” Dragic said. ”Everything here Andy Dalton Bengals Jersey , it’s the way I want it.”
He’s not going to touch a basketball for a little bit, in desperate need of some time off. Eurobasket – the tournament where Slovenia beat Serbia for the gold medal – went into mid-September, and Dragic didn’t get to Miami until the day before training camp. He basically hasn’t had a break from playing for a full year, and paid the price for that this season with the Heat.
Dragic was an All-Star for the first time, but dealt with nagging injuries, and soreness in his right knee limited him considerably in Miami’s five-game playoff loss to Philadelphia.
”I felt it the whole season,” Dragic said. ”Mentally I was OK but physically I had minor injuries. You know those injuries, if you keep playing they never go away. But it was nothing serious that I could not play. You’re always battling against your thoughts, against your head. But if you’re asking me if I would do it again … yeah.”
Thing is, he won’t be doing it again.
Slovenian officials came to Miami this season begging Dragic to reconsider his decision to retire from the national team, and he declined. The only thing that will lure Dragic back into the international game is if Slovenia makes the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which won’t be easy especially if he isn’t going to partake in qualifying.
He’s also been asked to consider running for political office, which is an absolute non-starter for Dragic. But summers in Slovenia are still very important Cheap Josh Rosen Jersey , both for relaxation and to remind his kids of their heritage.
”My country, they give me everything,” Dragic said. ”I was in school there. They make me (the) person I am now. I have friends, family, we always as a family we’re really tight. I always cherish my ancestors, my grandpa, great-grandpa, what they did for us, especially my dad who moved from Bosnia. He started a new life in Slovenia so basically I grew up there.”
He plans on returning to the U.S. around mid-August, a month or so before training camps open for the 2018-19 season.
And he’s desperately hoping he’ll remain in Miami.
”I think we have all the pieces here,” Dragic said. ”I think I’ll be better. I think we’ll be better. I want to see how good we can be.”