2018 NBA Draft: Deandre Ayton goes No. 1 to Phoenix Suns; 7 Pac-12ers selected
Arizona's Deandre Ayton was the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, going to the Phoenix Suns to give the Pac-12 back-to-back No. 1 picks in the NBA Draft for the first time in conference history. The Pac-12 also saw Oregon's Troy Brown and UCLA's Aaron Holiday go in the first round, with Brown going 15th to the Washington Wizards and Holiday selected 23rd to the Indiana Pacers. This marks the eighth consecutive year that the Pac-12 has had at least three guys go in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Here's how all the action played out.
No. 1 overall: Deandre Ayton
As widely expected, the Suns made Ayton the No.1 pick, marking the first time in program history that Arizona has had a player go No.1 overall. The native Bahamian had a stellar freshman season in Tucson, averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game en route to being named Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player and earning a nod on the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team, making him the only player in conference history to do all of that in the same year.
— Phoen1x Šuns (@Suns) June 21, 2018
"It means the world to me. My family and coaches know the hard work I put in this game to try to achieve my goals," Ayton told ESPN's Maria Taylor about going No. 1 overall. "No matter the trials and tribulations I went through, we always had faith."
Ayton joins a Phoenix team that already has a lot of exciting young talent in players like Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender and former Dawg Marquese Chriss. Ayton's selection only expedites #TheTimeline for GM Ryan McDonough.
Ayton is the fourth Pac-12 player to go No. 1 (excluding Utah's Andrew Bogut and Bill McGill, who played for the Utes before they joined the Pac-12), following Washington's Markelle Fultz in 2017, UCLA's Bill Walton in 1974 and UCLA's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1969.
No. 15 overall: Troy Brown
Troy Brown became the second Pac-12 player drafted in 2018 when the Washington Wizards selected the versatile Duck outside the lottery at No. 15. Projected to go in the low-20s by many of the mock drafts this week, Brown averaged 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game in his lone year in Eugene. The Pac-12 All-Freshman Team Honorable Mention selection will provide backcourt depth to a Wizards squad that boasts John Wall and Bradley Beal.
OUR PICK IS IN!
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) June 22, 2018
No. 23 overall: Aaron Holiday
UCLA's Aaron Holiday was the third Pac-12 player drafted Thursday night, going 23rd overall to the Indiana Pacers. Thought to be in the running at No. 16 with Phoenix's second first-round pick (Deandre Ayton even made a case for the Suns to get Holiday when he joined the ESPN crew on set), Holiday "fell" into a nice situation with the Pacers, a team looking to build upon a near-upset of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 22, 2018
The younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday and Chicago Bulls wing Justin Holiday, Aaron had a terrific junior season for the Bruins, averaging 20.3 points and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 42 percent from downtown for his collegiate career. If it wasn't for Ayton, Holiday very well might have been the 2018 Pac-12 Player of the Year.
"Just by seeing what they've gone through, they don't have to tell me much," Holiday told ESPN's Maria Taylor about what he has learned from his older brothers playing in the NBA. "I just need to work hard and be patient."
There's plenty of Bruin love in Indianapolis, as Holiday will join former Bruins Darren Collison, T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu with the Pacers.
No. 46 overall: De'Anthony Melton
The first Pac-12er off the board in the second round, USC's De'Anthony Melton is gonna be wearing red and white next season with the Houston Rockets taking him 46th overall. Melton had to sit out this season due to the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, but Melton showed promise as a freshman in 2016-17, averaging 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) June 22, 2018
He showed enough during the workout process to be considered a late first-round pick by some draft prognosticators, with CBS Sports slotting him as high as No. 20 at one point. As it is, he'll join a loaded Houston backcourt that features James Harden and Chris Paul. He'll likely spend at least part of his season in the G League, so he'll have some time to marinate.
Analytics-heavy team in Houston takes an analytics darling in De’Anthony Melton. Makes total sense. How he got to the mid-40s, I have no idea.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) June 22, 2018
No. 49 overall: Chimezie Metu
Three picks later, Melton's Trojan teammate Chimezie Metu heard his name called by the San Antonio Spurs at No. 49. Considered a mid-to-late second-round pick by most mock drafts, Metu had a decorated career in Troy, earning Pac-12 Most Improved Player honors in 2017 as a sophomore and being named first-team All-Pac-12 in 2018 after averaging 15.7 points and 7.4 rebounds as a junior. He even added a bit of a 3-point shot, hitting 12-of-40 3-point attempts as a junior after only attempted three 3-pointers his first two seasons combined.
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) June 22, 2018
Perhaps the Spurs are finally coming back to Earth, but you can never count out a Gregg Popovich-coached team, and Metu gives the Spurs an intriguing athletic prospect in the post.
No. 58 Overall: Thomas Welsh
A pleasant surprise late in the second round, former Bruin Thomas Welsh went 58th to the Denver Nuggets. Not showing up on many (or any) draft boards, Welsh had a solid four-year career in Westwood, capping off his career by averaging a double-double his senior season in 2017-18 (12.6 points, 10.9 rebounds). Armed with a sweet mid-range jumper, Welsh will attempt to crack a Nuggets rotation that features Nikola Jokic, Kenneth Faried and Paul Millsap in the frontcourt.
Our big man’s headed to Denver!
Congratulations to Thomas Welsh, selected No. 58 by the @nuggets in the 2018 NBA Draft.
— UCLA Basketball (@UCLAMBB) June 22, 2018
No. 59 Overall: George King
Another pleasant surprise late in the second round, Colorado's George King was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the penultimate pick of the draft. A dead-eye shooter, King shot 40 percent from downtown for his career and lit it up in college senior showcases after the season finished, being named the Reese's College All-Star Game MVP and averaging 18 points per game at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
I need me a George King Suns jersey asap!!!
— McKinley Wright IV (@kin_wright25) June 22, 2018
King's selection by the Suns makes it the second straight year that a Buff has been taken in the NBA Draft. Derrick White went 29th to the Spurs in 2017.