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91
The Trunk Line / Evolving his game
« Last post by hongwei28 on September 11, 2018, 12:27:46 am »
Eighteen starters in the last Super Bowl were selected in the fourth round or lower Ed Dickson Jersey , including six players who didn't get a call until the NFL draft was over.

While first-round picks receive most of the attention and players chosen the first two days of the draft get more money and better job security, success on Day 3 of the draft often separates the elite teams from the good ones.

That was evident when the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots met in February. Corey Clement had 100 yards receiving and one touchdown and LeGarrette Blount ran for 90 yards and one touchdown in Philadelphia's 41-33 victory. Danny Amendola led the Patriots with 152 yards receiving and Chris Hogan had 128.

All four players were undrafted free agents.

The Eagles enter this week with only six picks in the draft and none on Day 2 so there's a bigger emphasis for them to hit on some of their picks in the later rounds and find quality rookies in free agency.

It won't be easy, however.

"You would think because we're coming off a Super Bowl and we don't have a second- or third-round pick that it would be a lot easier after the draft," said Joe Douglas, the team's executive vice president of player personnel. "But my experience coming off a Super Bowl, it's sometimes harder to get guys to commit to your roster because agents and players have a perceived notion that it's going to be that much tougher to make your team. It's going to be a challenge for us, and we know it, and we're going to attack it, and I think our guys are going to do a great job recruiting some of these guys who slip through the cracks like we did last year. But it is going to be a challenge because there's going to be some guys who think there's a tougher shot of making the team."

One way to combat that is to offer more guaranteed money to undrafted rookies. It helped the Eagles snag Clement last year after he ran for 1,375 yards his senior season at Wisconsin.

Tom Brady's story is known, going from sixth-round pick to five-time Super Bowl champion. Three of the offensive linemen blocking for him last year were under-the-radar guys, too. Center David Andrews was undrafted, and right guard Shaq Mason and right tackle Cameron Fleming were fourth-round picks. Overall, the Patriots had 18 undrafted players on the Super Bowl roster.

The Jaguars, who lost the AFC championship game, got Pro Bowl linebacker Telvin Smith (fifth round Adrian Phillips Jersey , 2014) on Day 3 of the draft. They also relied on two rookie receivers late in the season: fourth-round pick Dede Westbrook and undrafted Keelan Cole.

"You're looking for those types of nuggets," said Tom Coughlin, Jacksonville's top executive. "You're talking about value. That's what this is all about, so when you get a player in that circumstance and you've done the research on the guy, you know the guy solid and it happens to be that he's there for you, then obviously you feel very good about that."

Titans general manager Jon Robinson said his scouting department has focused the past couple of weeks on finding value in the late rounds and after the draft.

"Anytime you can get return on those guys in those later rounds with play on the field whether it be offensively, defensively, in the kicking game, I think that's good," Robinson said. "I think we've done a pretty good job the last couple years of finding some guys to carve out a niche, carve out a role on this football team and contribute. So we're hoping we can kind of sift through those guys over the weekend and come away with a couple that can help us."

Accumulating more picks, especially in the later rounds, certainly helps a team's chances of adding a solid contributor. Minnesota, which lost the NFC title game, has eight draft picks, including five on Day 3.

"Sure Art Shell Jersey , you're going to have your misses. But, the more swings that you get at the plate, the better odds you have of hitting the ball," said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. "If you only get to bat twice, you've got maybe a 50-50 chance. If you get to bat 10 times, hopefully your 50-50 chance, your odds have increased pretty good. I think it's taking as many swings as you can down in those later rounds."

San Francisco GM John Lynch had success with third-day picks and rookie free agents last year, adding Trent Taylor, George Kittle, D.J. Jones, Adrian Colbert, Matt Breida and Kendrick Bourne.

"When you can hit at that part of the draft, and/or free agency, it's a really good thing," Lynch said. "Shoot, we picked guys off of tryout camp last year. ... Everyone focuses on the work up top with No. 9 but we really try to take a holistic look at this thing and pride ourselves on being real strong on the back end of the draft."

AP Pro Football Writers Josh Dubow Marquel Lee Jersey , Teresa M. Walker and Dave Campbell, and AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.

AP NFL website: pro32.ap.org and AP_NFL

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: s://AP_RobMaaddi


The Rams have a long history of great running backs. Todd Gurley, the 2017 NFL offensive player of the year, is the latest to carry the torch while carrying the ball for the Rams.

“I’m a history freak,” former Rams running back Steven Jackson said, via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. “And when it comes to the Rams’ organization, if there’s one thing we do, we pick running backs well.”

Jackson is in the Hall of Very Good after rushing for 10,138 yards and 56 touchdowns while catching 407 passes for 3,324 yards and eight touchdowns in his nine years with the Rams. He finished his career with 11,438 rushing yards, 3,683 receiving yards and 78 touchdowns.

He becomes Hall eligible in 2021 but doesn’t appear a first-ballot guy.

Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk already are in the Hall of Fame after spending parts of their careers with the Rams. Jackson, though, argues that he’s the best running back ever to put on the Rams’ uniform.

“Sometimes, I talk to current fans here [in Los Angeles] and there’s an argument of who’s the greatest running back to be a Ram Jack Crawford Jersey ,” said Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler who never made All-Pro. “I think it’s me.

“Look at the record book. Everybody has their pick.”

Dickerson played less than five seasons with the Rams before they traded him to the Colts, but he gained 7,245 of his 13,259 rushing yards with the franchise that drafted him. He also scored 56 of his 90 career touchdowns with the Rams.

Faulk played seven of his 12 seasons with the Rams, gaining 6,959 of his 12,279 rushing yards and 4,071 of his 6,875 receiving yards with St. Louis. He scored 85 of his 136 touchdowns while with the Rams.

Both Dickerson and Faulk were highly decorated with multiple All-Pro nods and other awards, including Faulk’s MVP award in 2000. That’s among the reasons they are in the Hall of Fame and Jackson could have a long wait if he ever gets in.

Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis spent three of his 13 seasons with the Rams, rushing for 3,091 yards with them.

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92
The Suggestion Box / Assignment writing services
« Last post by SkylaJensen on September 10, 2018, 07:01:49 am »
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The Trunk Line / Re: Western Conference
« Last post by seooesboard on September 10, 2018, 05:56:36 am »
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The Suggestion Box / How to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks
« Last post by coreyanderson on September 10, 2018, 01:04:31 am »
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The Trunk Line / Re: Western Conference
« Last post by seooesboard on September 08, 2018, 06:47:30 am »
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The Trunk Line / Western Conference
« Last post by hongwei28 on September 08, 2018, 12:32:43 am »
Lightning coach Jon Cooper came to Boston with a plan to steal back the home-ice advantage that the Bruins took away with their Game 1 win in Tampa.

Now he has bigger goals in mind.

”We can’t exhale Derrick Kindred Jersey ,” Cooper said on Thursday, a day after the Lightning beat Boston 4-1 to open a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. ”Just because we picked one up on them, we want to make it where we have three chances to knock them out. When you have that chance, you can’t let it slide.”

Since winning the opener, the Bruins have lost two in a row. On Wednesday night, Ondrej Palat scored twice in the first 3:19 of the game to give the Lightning a lead it never relinquished.

”They outworked us last night, there’s no doubt about it,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.

Game 4 is Friday night (7 p.m. EDT, NBCSN).

MIRROR IMAGE

Vegas and San Jose each have a home shutout and a road overtime win through four games of their second-round series. Now it has become a best-of-three for a spot in the Western Conference Final starting with Game 5 (10 p.m. EDT, NBCSN). The Sharks have turned things around completely from Game 1, when they were constantly a step behind the speedier Golden Knights in a 7-0 loss.

San Jose has done a much better job limiting Vegas’ chances since then.

”That 7-0 game was not really us out there Shelby Harris Jersey ,” forward Eric Fehr said. ”We changed a lot of things. We came out flat in that game. I think we’ve done a good job of reeling it in and playing the way we can play. That was a game we just threw in the garbage and turned the page.”

Now the Golden Knights will try to do the same after getting thoroughly outplayed in a 4-0 loss in Game 4.

”It’s a good series, there’s no easy night,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”Nobody thought it was going to be an easy series either. We’re in good shape, 2-2, going home.”

SHUFFLING

Cassidy fiddled with his lines in practice on Thursday as he tried to find more offense for a team that seemed to have plenty of it in the first-round series against the Maple Leafs. With Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk sitting out of practice – Cassidy said he expects them to play on Friday night – Danton Heinen skated with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak on the first line and Ryan Donato got time with David Krejci on the second.

After scoring 28 goals in seven games against Toronto and six in the Round 2 opener, Boston was held to a single goal each in back-to-back games.

”We’ll probably tinker,” Cassidy said. ”I’m not going to tell you who’s going in or who’s going out, because we’ve got to get the healthy guys sorted out first.”

ROOKIES IN THE BOOKS

Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli was the 23rd different rookie to score at least one goal in 56 NHL playoff games this year. That’s already more than in all of last year’s postseason. The NHL record is 38 in 1981, but over the past 30 years the most was 28, in 1990 and again in ’92.

Boston’s Jake DeBrusk has six this year, leading all rookies. Minnesota North Stars forward Dino Ciccarelli scored 14 goals in ’81 Josey Jewell Jersey , the rookie record for a postseason. Penguins forward Jake Guentzel scored 13 last year and matched Ciccarelli’s point total.



AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this story from San Jose, California.

Mathew Barzal responded less than 30 seconds after Philadelphia came back from three goals down in the third period to tie the score, and the New York Islanders got a big win over the playoff-chasing Flyers.

Barzal had two goals and an assist, scoring the tiebreaking goal with 6 1/2 minutes remaining, to lead the Islanders to a 5-4 win Tuesday night as Philadelphia squandered a chance to move closer to clinching a playoff spot.

”It was a great response to a tough situation,” New York coach Doug Weight said. ”It was nice to get that goal right away and we were able to hold it down (after that).”

John Tavares also scored twice and Anthony Beauvillier added a goal and two assists to help the Islanders get their third win in eight games, but just the fourth in their past 20 (4-12-4). Thomas Greiss stopped 27 shots.

Nolan Patrick had two goals and an assist, Claude Giroux added a goal and an assist, and Wayne Simmonds also scored for Philadelphia. Petr Mrazek finished with 32 saves while falling to 6-6-3 in 15 games since being acquired from Detroit.

The Flyers lead Florida by four points for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after New Jersey won to jump one point ahead of Philadelphia for the first wild card. The Flyers and Devils each have two games remaining while the Panthers have three.

”Obviously it’s in the back of our minds, but if we want to get that playoff spot we got to do better than that,” Patrick said.

While the Flyers have beaten strong playoff-bound teams such as Winnipeg Nick O'Leary Jersey , Washington and Boston in recent weeks, they have lost to struggling teams such as Detroit, Dallas and the Islanders.

”Those teams are still good teams, not a lot of easy games anymore in this league,” Giroux said. ”We didn’t earn that win tonight. We got make sure we come out strong next game.”

The Islanders appeared to take control with a three-goal second period to take a 4-1 lead, but the Flyers – who were 5-0-3 in their previous eight – tied it with three goals in a nine-minute stretch of the third.

Patrick started the Flyers’ rally in the third as he deflected Shayne Gostisbehere’s point shot in at 4:07 to make it 4-2. Giroux’s assist on the play extended his points streak to eight games.

Patrick then got Philadelphia to 4-3 as he knocked in a loose puck in front at 8:16 for his 13th and the rookie’s first multi-goal game.

Giroux tied it with 6:56 left as he beat Greiss top-shelf on the glove side for his 30th.

”We let them back in it and gave them some life,” Tavares said. ”They started feeling a lot better about their game. … They’re playing for a lot and we’re just trying to finish strong so we’re just competing hard.”

Barzal then regained the lead for New York just 28 seconds later as he was streaking to the net, got a pass from Beauvillier and beat Mrazek for his 22nd.

The Islanders went ahead with three goals while outshooting the Flyers 17-5 in the second.

Beauvillier gave New York a 2-1 lead as he skated across the slot and got his 20th at 3:43.

”It feels good to get to 20, but it’s not the spot we want to be in right now,” said Beauvillier, who scored for the fourth straight game and sixth time in his past seven.

Tavares put the Islanders up two with his second of the game with just under nine minutes left in the middle period JC Tretter Jersey , knocking the rebound of his initial shot over the falling Mrazek’s glove for his 36th.

Barzal made it 4-1 from the right circle with 3:33 left in the period.

Tavares got the Islanders on the scoreboard 7:15 into the game, just 10 seconds into a tripping penalty on the Flyers’ Sean Couturier.

Simmonds tied it with 53 seconds left in the opening period with his 24th.

NOTES: Tavares has six goals and 13 points in his past 15 games. He is two goals away from his career high of 38 set in 2014-15. … Barzal’s assist on Tavares’ goal was his 60th, moving him two away from Sergei Makarov (62 for Calgary in 1989-90) for third by a rookie since the 1983-84 season. Joe Juneau leads that list with 70 for Boston in 1992-93, followed by Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby with 63 in 2005-06. Barzal is also three away from tying Bryan Trottier for the Islanders’ rookie mark set in 1975-76. … Bailey, back after missing two games with an upper body injury, played in his 713th game, moving past Pat Flatley into sole possession for seventh place on the franchise list. … The Islanders won three of four in the season series. … Giroux has four goals and 10 assists during his scoring streak.

UP NEXT

Flyers: Host Carolina on Thursday night, and the New York Rangers on Saturday to close the regular season.

Islanders: Host the Rangers on Thursday night before closing season at Detroit on Saturday night.



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98
The Trunk Line / Western Conference
« Last post by hongwei28 on September 08, 2018, 12:29:52 am »
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks kicked off the week by visiting the Vikings and he’s ending it by meeting with another team.

Kendricks moved on to Oakland to meet with the Raiders after wrapping up his visit with Minnesota and Quintin Demps Jersey , per multiple reports, he’s in Cleveland to talk to the Browns on Friday. Kendricks was released by the Eagles last week.

Kendricks said after his visit with the Vikings that he expects to have a decision next week about where he will play during the 2018 season. He also said that he’s looking for a spot where he can play a big role.

Cleveland has Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, Joe Schobert, James Burgess and 2018 fifth-round pick Genard Avery as part of their current linebacker group.

12, 22 BUFFALO BILLS (9-8)

LAST SEASON: Front-office and major roster overhauls didn't deter Bills from exceeding extremely low expectations in making playoffs and ending 17-year postseason drought, longest in North America's four major professional sports. First-year coach Sean McDermott successfully cultivated winning culture by leaning on veteran leaders to establish close-knit bond among players. First-year GM Brandon Beane made deft trades in adding draft picks and beginning to clear team's books of high-priced salaries Torrey Smith Jersey , including DT Marcell Dareus. RB LeSean McCoy was workhorse on offense that lacked consistency at QB (Tyrod Taylor) and established depth at WR. Revamped group of DBs, led by free-agent-additions safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, jelled immediately in helping patch defensive deficiencies.

THEY NEED: QB, LB, WR, C, LG.

THEY DON'T NEED: CB Bruce Ellington Jersey , S.

POSSIBLE 12TH PICK: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA; QB Josh Allen, Wyoming; QB Sam Darnold, USC; QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma; WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama; LB Roquan Smith, Georgia; LB Tremaine Edmunds Christian McCaffrey Jersey , Virginia Tech.

POSSIBLE 22ND PICK: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville; OL Will Hernandez, UTEP; WR D.J. Moore, Maryland; DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan; C Billy Price, Ohio State.

OUTLOOK: Bills might take step back before begin advancing after yet another offseason overhaul in bid to build through youth and shed high-priced contracts. Difficult to see how playoff stars will align perfectly for second consecutive year with questions at quarterback, offensive line and with McCoy set to turn 30 in July. With 12 career appearances Domata Peko Jersey , including one playoff start, free-agent addition A.J. McCarron most experienced QB on roster after Taylor traded to Cleveland. Offensive line and leadership roles took hits with C Eric Wood diagnosed with career-ending neck injury and LG Richie Incognito's abrupt retirement. Receiver group lacks established threat beyond Kelvin Benjamin, who's coming off knee surgery. Bills plugged holes on defense by adding DT Star Lotulelei and LB Trent Murphy, but have yet to address free-agent loss of starting MLB Preston Brown.

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99
The Trunk Line / Ryan Hartman
« Last post by hongwei28 on September 07, 2018, 11:56:55 pm »
After snapping the longest losing streak of his career in his previous start Jay Novacek Jersey , Marcus Stroman went straight back to struggling.

Todd Frazier hit a two-run homer, Brandon Nimmo reached base three times and the New York Mets beat Marcus Stroman and the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 on Wednesday night.

Stroman (1-6) lost six straight decisions before beating Detroit last Friday but couldn’t build on that performance. He allowed six runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, raising his ERA from 6.02 to 6.50.

”I just didn’t have a feel for anything from pitch one,” Stroman said.

Frazier gave the Mets the lead with a drive to center field off the right-hander in a five-run fifth.

Now in his fifth season, Stroman was expected to be a steadying presence in Toronto’s rotation. Instead, he has dealt with a sore shoulder that sidelined him for more than a month, and been hit hard when healthy enough to pitch.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway, a former pitcher and pitching coach Christian Covington Jersey , said location is at the root of Stroman’s rough stretch.

”Everything is just up a little bit from what I’ve seen in the past,” Callaway said. ”I think, from a pitching coach’s perspective, for him to have his good sinker and his good slider, he’s got to make sure he gets the ball down. That’s kind of how he lived in the past and what his success was all about, getting guys to chase below the zone.”

Former teammate Jose Bautista flied out in his first two at-bats against Stroman but delivered an RBI single in the fifth.

”His stuff was moving, he just wasn’t locating as well as I’ve seen him do in the past from the outfield,” Bautista said.

Stroman Le'Raven Clark Jersey , from Long Island, had never faced the Mets before.

Seth Lugo (3-3) pitched three innings of relief for the win. Jeurys Familia closed for his 16th save in 20 opportunities.

Wilmer Flores had two hits and Kevin Plawecki scored twice for the Mets, who had lost 11 of 13.

Toronto’s Kendrys Morales hit a solo home run in the second but the Mets answered on Nimmo’s RBI single in the third. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. restored Toronto’s lead with a two-out RBI single in the fourth before Stroman unraveled in the fifth.

Flores led off with a single and scored on Frazier’s 10th home run. Bautista and Asdrubal Cabrera chased Stroman with consecutive RBI singles, and Michael Conforto capped the outburst with a run-scoring single off reliever Luis Santos.

Making his second major league career start, New York right-hander Corey Oswalt allowed two runs and five hits in four innings.

”That’s a good leap forward for him,” Callaway said. ”He looked a lot better.”

LOOK OUT BELOW

Mets relievers Tyler Bashlor, Jerry Blevins and Robert Gsellman, and outfielder Kevin Kaczmarksi Tanner Lee Jersey , ascended Toronto’s CN Tower earlier in the day for the Edge Walk attraction, which lets visitors circle the exterior of the observation deck. The tower’s official Twitter account posted a photo of the quartet.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (right index finger) will make a rehab start for Class A Brooklyn on Sunday. … C Devin Mesoraco passed concussion tests again but was not in the starting lineup. Mesoraco was hit in the head in back-to-back innings Tuesday, once by a ball and once by a bat. … RHP Zack Wheeler will get an extra day of rest before his next start. Wheeler will be pushed back to Monday, when the Mets play a doubleheader against Philadelphia.

Blue Jays: An MRI on RHP Marco Estrada revealed a mild strain in his left gluteal muscle. Estrada left Tuesday’s start after just 12 pitches. It was not yet known whether he’ll be placed on the disabled list. … RHP Preston Guilmet was designated for assignment and LHP Tim Mayza was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. Toronto selected Santos and RHP Rhiner Cruz from Triple-A. … RHP Seunghwan Oh was available after missing Tuesday’s game because of flu-like symptoms.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (5-4) pitches Friday night at home against Tampa Bay. The right-hander leads the majors with a 1.84 ERA but has lost four of his past five starts despite not allowing more than three earned runs in any of them. Tampa Bay is expected to open with right-handed reliever Ryne Stanek (1-2, 1.98).

Blue Jays: RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-2, 3.97) goes Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Yankees. Gaviglio is 0-2 with a 4.78 ERA in six outings since winning his first start for Toronto. RHP Sonny Gray (5-6, 5.44) starts for New York.




When Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Jerald Hawkins went down in practice early on Wednesday, it appeared as though he’d sustained a non-contact knee injury.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com Jerrell Freeman Jersey , Hawkins injury is actually a torn quadriceps muscle.

Hawkins collapsed on the field and yelped upon going to the ground. He had to be helped off the field by members of the team’s training staff.

With a lengthy recovery likely ahead, Hawkins could be destined to end up on the Steelers injured reserve list. At this stage of the offseason, he would need to be waived/injured and would move to the injured reserve list if he went unclaimed by another team.

Hawkins, a fourth-round pick in 2016, played in five games last year with one start for Pittsburgh.

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100
The Trunk Line / Although Brees
« Last post by hongwei28 on September 07, 2018, 11:54:40 pm »
The Oakland Raiders have released former starting cornerback David Amerson in the first significant move since Jon Gruden took over as coach last month.

The Raiders announced the move to cut ties with Amerson on Monday before his $5.5 million salary for 2018 would have been fully guaranteed later this week.

Amerson was a revelation after being claimed off waivers from Washington by the Raiders early in the 2015 season. Amerson started 14 games for Oakland that year and set a franchise record with 26 passes defensed and added a career-high four interceptions.

That play earned Amerson a four-year contract extension the following summer worth up to $38 million Logan Cooke Jersey , but he never played to the level of that deal.

Amerson’s play regressed in 2016 and he struggled mightily this past season as part of a secondary that became the first to fail to record any interceptions in the first 10 games of the season in NFL history.

Amerson played only seven games before being sidelined by a foot injury for the rest of 2017. He allowed opponents to catch 23 of 31 passes thrown into his coverage area for 391 yards and four touchdowns. The 155.6 passer rating when targeting Amerson was the highest against any defender targeted at least 20 times, according to SportRadar.

Amerson was originally a second-round pick by Washington in 2013. He has eight interceptions and 63 passes defensed in 68 career games.

The Raiders still must make a decision on cornerback Sean Smith, who is owed $8.5 million for 2018 and might not be back. T.J. Carrie, who was the team’s most effective cornerback this past season, is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent next month.

Oakland is counting on 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley to be the starter next season at one cornerback spot. He played just two games as a rookie because of injuries.



Since the heady days of Steve Nash came to an end, there have been few signs of joy from a dwindling fan base that watched the Phoenix Suns tumble to the bottom of the NBA standings and miss the playoffs for the eighth year in a row.

Then came the announcement that Deandre Ayton would go to the Suns with the first overall pick. A huge cheer went up from the several thousand fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Thursday night for the draft party. General manager Ryan McDonough, owner Robert Sarver and coach Igor Kokoskov came out of their meeting room to watch and bask in that rare moment of sheer joy from the fans.

”It was a pretty special moment for our franchise,” McDonough said.

Not only that Menelik Watson Jersey , but McDonough engineered a last-minute trade for swingman Mikal Bridges of Villanova, the 10th pick. It was a spendy move because Philadelphia demanded and got Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick. But the Suns are weary of stockpiling assets. It’s time to cash in, they figured, and did it with that trade.

”We weighed the pros and cons of trading it heavily and carefully,” McDonough said. ”We were only going to put it in play if we had a chance to get a special player and that’s how we feel about McKell.”

All four of the Suns’ picks showed up on a crowded dais in Phoenix on Friday – Ayton, Bridges, French point guard Elie Okobo (chosen 31st) and forward George King of Colorado (the 59th selection).

The 7-foot-1 Ayton towered over the others, in a white unbuttoned collared shirt and a sharp blue suit Shaq Thompson Jersey , but he looked and sounded a bit weary from the whirlwind of being the No. 1 draft pick. His only sleep lately, he said, was a couple of hours on the plane ride from New York on Tuesday.

”I’m just excited to finally get a jersey on and be able to play five-on-five again,” Ayton said.

Ayton had been the frontrunner for the No. 1 pick ever since the draft lottery and any doubts were erased when he went through an individual workout with the Suns, the only team which he did so.

McDonough said that Ayton’s workout ”in and of itself was as impressive as I’ve ever seen in my 16 drafts in the NBA.”

Ayton is seen as strictly a center, so how does he fit in the modern style of the NBA, when center plays is diminished and players are essentially interchangeable, is a question. Ayton replied that he’s no ordinary center.

”I don’t like it when people think I’m just a guy down low Brian Allen Jersey ,” he said. ”They haven’t watched me shoot the basketball.”

Ayton and Bridges say they got to know each other well at the college awards ceremony in Los Angeles but never figured they’d be on the same team.

”It’s like I’ve known him my whole life,” Bridges said.

Now comes the hard work, molding a team with Ayton, Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. A billboard of those three already has been erected downtown.

The Suns, so bad for so long, seem on the brink of being relevant.

”We’re very hungry,” Ayton said. ”I think the great team chemistry and the work ethic that we have, especially us guys coming in Blake Bortles Jersey , we’re going to bring it to the next level. We’ve got young lets. We can run all day. … We can really start a winning legacy.”

And Ayton is the reason for the sudden leap in optimism, even though he won’t turn 20 until next month.

”I embrace it a lot,” he said of the expectations placed upon him. ”Through my career I’ve always had that on my shoulder, the expectations. I represent a whole nation (Bahamas) I just do that the best that I can and just help this community start over and be the best player I can possibly be. I just want to be the best great player.”

Kokoskov says Ayton possesses ”a unique talent for the decades.”

Ayton said he wants ”to be the best person on and off the court.”

Now the Suns move on to the next phase. Free agency starts July 1 and McDonough wants some veteran players to add to this very young core. He said the team should have $15 million to $20 million to spend.

”We were aggressive last night with the picks and the trade up to get Mikal,” McDonough said. ”We’re going to continue to be aggressive for the next couple of weeks in free agency. We’ve got some money to spend and we’re looking to spend it on the best players we can get.”

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