Suns win top pick in NBA draft lottery: Will they keep Deandre Ayton in Arizona?

The Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings moved up the board during Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, but the Phoenix Suns were the big winners, nabbing the top pick in the June draft where teams will vie for the best basketball prospects in the world.

Heading into the night, the Kings were likely to end up with the seventh pick in the draft while the Hawks were slated for the fourth selection. The Suns had the best odds at the top pick with a 25 percent chance. The good fortune for the Kings and Hawks was bad news for the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks, which both dropped from projected top-three picks.

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki was not pleased.

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NBA draft order revealed

Here is the order of the first 14 picks of the NBA draft as determined by Tuesday’s lottery.

1: Phoenix Suns
2: Sacramento Kings
3: Atlanta Hawks
4: Memphis Grizzlies
5: Dallas Mavericks
6: Orlando Magic
7: Chicago Bulls
8: Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn Nets)
9: New York Knicks
10: Philadelphia 76ers (via L.A. Lakers)
11: Charlotte Hornets
12: L.A. Clippers (via Detroit Pistons)
13: L.A. Clippers
14: Denver Nuggets

The Phoenix Suns won Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery and could be eyeing Arizona big man Deandre Ayton with the first pick in the draft. (AP)
The Phoenix Suns won Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery and could be eyeing Arizona big man Deandre Ayton with the first pick in the draft. (AP)

Will Deandre Ayton be the top pick?

Arizona Wildcats center Deandre Ayton is the favorite, but not a consensus pick to be the first player off the board and would fill a glaring need for the Suns. The 7-foot-1, 250-pound center is a tremendous athlete and skilled offensive player who dominated college basketball last season.

The Suns’ current options at center consist of Marquese Chriss, Alex Len, Dragan Bender and aging veteran Tyson Chandler, none of whom are significant impact players in the league.

Slovenia’s Luka Doncic (Real Madrid) is a 6-8 playmaker in the mold of Ben Simmons who can run the offense, pass and attack the basket with his athleticism and could be the surprise top pick if the Suns go a different direction than Ayton. Adding intrigue, Doncic played for new Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov on the Slovenian national team.

If Doncic doesn’t go to the Suns, the Kings or Hawks are likely candidates to use their good fortune from Tuesday to draft what some consider the most NBA-ready player in the draft and the best prospect out of Europe in years.

Best of the rest of the NBA draft prospects

Other players in the mix for high selections in the draft include Duke’s Marvin Bagley, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr., Texas’ Mo Bamba and Oklahoma’s Trae Young.

Bagley, an athletic, offense-first 6-11, 235-pound forward, won ACC Player of the Year as a freshman at Duke while averaging 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.

Jackson, a 6-10, 240-pound center, won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors while knocking down 40 percent of his three pointers and is in the running to be a top three pick.

Bamba is an offensively raw 7-foot center with a 7-9 wingspan ready to anchor the middle of an NBA defense. He averaged 3.7 blocks per game at Texas.

Young, a 6-2 guard, drew comparisons to Stephen Curry for his offensive prowess and ability to shoot from almost anywhere beyond half court as a freshman at Oklahoma. He averaged 27.4 points and 8.7 assists in Norman. His size and 42.2 field goal percentage will give some lottery teams pause.

The NBA draft is scheduled for June 21.

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