The Phoenix Suns’ pick of Josh Jackson at No. 4 in the 2017 NBA Draft proved popular with fans of Arizona’s pro basketball team.
Azcentral.com reports that a “few thousand fans” in a crowd of 5,200 roared at the team’s draft watch party on Thursday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena (home of the Suns) when the Boston Celtics selected Jayson Tatum with the third pick.
That’s because well-informed Suns fans knew 6-foot-8 former Kansas standout Jackson was next in line following the picks of Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia 76ers), Lonzo Ball (Los Angeles Lakers) and Tatum. Azcentral.com reports that upon confirmation of the Jackson pick, “hundreds jumped to their feet and cheered.”
“He’s just what we needed,” Suns broadcaster Al McCoy told Azcentral.com. “He’s an aggressive, competitive guy who can defend the wing and get out in transition.”
Former Suns player Steven Hunter said this of the Jackson selection: “It’s a great pick, He plays fast. He plays hard. He can be our junkyard dog. Every team needs one.”
Azcentral.com columnist Dan Bickley approved of the acquisition of Jackson, who averaged 16.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in his one-and-done season at Kansas.
“(General manager Ryan) McDonough insisted the Suns would get a great player. And that’s just what happened,” Bickley writes. “Jackson is highly competitive, possesses a great motor and a toughness that will greatly help his assimilation in the NBA … he is known as a versatile defensive presence, something the Suns need very badly.”
Bickley highlighted Jackson’s comment that “those teams who didn’t draft me, one day they will be sorry.”
“Mark it down,” Bickley wrote. “The new guy already hates the Lakers. That’s a good sign.”
Top player in draft?
Suns general manager McDonough said he believes the Suns at No. 4 wound up with the No. 1 player in the entire draft.
“We love his competitiveness,” McDonough told azcentral.com. “We love his fire. We love his toughness. ... You talk about winning and impact on a team, we felt like he was the best player in the draft.
“He’s the kind of player that will raise the level in practice and in drills,’’ McDonough added. “And from what we gather, he’s not afraid to call people out who aren’t that aggressive.”
Workout snub bothers Ainge
Boston general manager Danny Ainge told media members that the Celtics, who chose Duke’s Tatum at No. 3, “never talked with Josh. No one in our organization did. They (Jackson and his representatives) canceled a workout on us when we flew out to Sacramento and they just decided to cancel it as we flew. … So there was something that he didn’t want to play for the Celtics. In spite of that, we’ve watched Josh for two years and we’re fans. He’s a terrific kid and a good player. So we tried not to overreact to those kinds of things and make a big deal of it.”
Ainge acknowledged to reporters after the draft he was upset at the waste of time, flying to Sacramento for no reason.
“Yeah, I was mad. We flew cross country. Are you kidding me? I had to get up at 4 o’clock and fly back home,” Ainge said.
Ainge told ESPN.com that he and and other Celtics officials simply went to bed after arriving in Sacramento.
“There’s nothing to do in Sacramento,” he joked. “That could get me in trouble there.”
Divac likes Mason
Sacramento Kings’ general manager Vlade Divac had this to say on the pick of former KU point guard Frank Mason early in the second round: “Frank Mason is a point guard again at a position we needed.”
The Kings also took Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox (in the first round at No. 5 overall). “We were very excited he (Mason) was available at 34.”
SI.com reported that Mason worked out for three teams twice. Those teams: Sacramento, Oklahoma City and Orlando.
All-time lottery pick list
Jackson on Thursday became KU’s 17th lottery pick. Duke has the most with 23, followed by Kentucky (22), North Carolina (18), KU (17), Arizona (14), UConn (13), Michigan (9), Georgetown (8), UNLV (8) and Syracuse (8).