Are you ready for the Phoenix Suns youth movement?
I’m not talking about on the court, although that is well underway too. No, I’m talking about the Suns’ front office.
With the hiring of the 33-year-old Ryan McDonough as general manager, the Suns have proven they are willing to think fresh and add younger blood to the front office. From a selfish standpoint, I love the move for the pure fact that there is now a member of the basketball operations staff that will get my bad ‘80s and ‘90s pop-culture references. (Example: Goran Dragic is schooling the competition more than Mr. Feeny schooled Cory and Shawn.) Then again, maybe even he won’t get those obscure thoughts.
Like they say — not that I’m sure who “they” exactly are — age is just a number and McDonough is the prime example of that. While he is new age, carrying an iPad that includes analysis of hundreds of players around the globe at his fingertips at a moments notice, he’s also not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get dirty traveling to see as many players as he can. It’s part of his holistic approach to the job. An approach that was examined in depth a few months ago in a brilliant column on SB Nation entitled “The Next Generation GM.”
That next generation starts right now in Phoenix and that should excite Suns fans.
It’s a generation that combines the best of scouting with the best of analytics. It’s the Robocop of basketball operations. Combining the best of the human elements with the best of the computer elements to create a hybrid ready to take on the challenges of running an NBA team in an ever-changing landscape. Or fighting crime in the mean streets of new-age Detroit in Robocop’s case. See, the ‘80s references just keep on coming.
On top of a new way of thinking about evaluating basketball talent, his best quality may be his dedication and determination to working hard. He worked his way up from being a journalism major at the University of North Carolina, to the film room and working with editing VHS tapes for the Celtics to being an assistant general manager in under a decade. He’s determined to do whatever it takes to be a success. Something that may have come from former Sun and McDonough’s former boss, Danny Ainge.
“I told Ryan at that time there’s no substitute for work,” Ainge told SB Nation. “All the genius in the world, I don’t care who you are. If it’s a Red Auerbach, a Jerry West, it doesn’t matter. You can’t replace work.”
And there is a lot of it to be done in Phoenix. Rebuilding is a more tedious process than creating fuel for a Flux Capacitor in 1955. It’s one that will take a dedication and fresh perspective to complete. Two things McDonough has plenty of. Oh, and he has plenty of draft picks to get the job done too, with six first-round picks over the next three years, two of which are coming up quickly in next month’s draft.
The youth movement has begun in Phoenix and a wunderkind is leading the charge as the new general manager. And that’s reason to get excited.