CHICAGO (AP) – Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough was on stage moments after the NBA draft lottery ended, talking about the future of the Suns and mentioning how they had the best odds of picking No. 1 overall.
And then he stopped to correct himself.
"We have No. 1," McDonough said. "I've got to adjust to that."
It's an adjustment that he and the Suns will happily be making.
The worst team in the league this season will pick first in the NBA draft on June 21, after the Suns won the draft lottery on Tuesday night. It's the first time the Suns will have the chance to make the first overall selection.
"It's great for our franchise," said McDonough, whose club went 21-61 this season and missed the playoffs for an eighth consecutive year. "It's something that you say coming into it, you don't have any control over it so you're not going to get nervous. And I was here dying. I could barely breathe. I needed an oxygen tank."
The Suns have three great candidates for No. 1, all with ties to either Arizona or new Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov. Arizona freshman center Deandre Ayton is widely expected to be a strong candidate to go No. 1 overall, and he was at the lottery to watch the Suns win the pick. So was Duke's Marvin Bagley III, an Arizona native.
And Kokoskov is particularly familiar with Slovenia's Luka Doncic, who will be coming to the NBA from Real Madrid. Kokoskov coached Slovenia – and Doncic – to the gold medal at the European championships last summer.
"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."
The Suns were big winners.
So were Sacramento and Atlanta.
Sacramento will pick No. 2 and Atlanta got the No. 3 pick – both of them moving up and bucking some odds to get there. The top three spots were determined by the lottery, and then spots 4-14 fell in line of reverse order of record.
Sacramento had a 18.3 percent chance entering the lottery of moving into the top three, while Atlanta's move-up was really just a slightly bigger upset than a coin-flip – the Hawks came into the night with a 42.3 percent chance of getting picks 1, 2 or 3.
The rest of the slots, in order, went to No. 4 Memphis, No. 5 Dallas, No. 6 Orlando, No. 7 Chicago, No. 8 Cleveland, No. 9 New York, No. 10 Philadelphia, No. 11 Charlotte, No. 12 and No. 13 Los Angeles Clippers, and No. 14 Denver.
The draft is June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Josh Jackson, who just completed his rookie season with Phoenix, represented the Suns on the stage, for the public announcement of what was drawn in secret about an hour earlier. Only a handful of team representatives, NBA officials and media knew the outcome of the lottery before it was revealed publicly and they were all sequestered until the results were aired.
Jackson said he thinks the Suns need a big man. That means his vote, for now anyway, is Ayton.
"He's got so much potential," Jackson said.
The Suns feel the same way about themselves. They have three picks in the first 31 in this draft, plus have some cap room to work with this summer. The plan, McDonough said, is to add some veterans to mold what will be a young core led by the likes of Devin Booker, Jackson and potentially whoever the No. 1 pick is next month.
With some more luck, Jackson won't be going to more lotteries.
"Hopefully we won't be sitting up here too much longer," Jackson said.