NBA

Suns nab forward Josh Jackson with 4th overall pick

PHOENIX -- Josh Jackson believes the Phoenix Suns got the best player in the draft: Josh Jackson.

The small forward from Kansas who is known for his defense and plays the game with an "edge" was the Suns' choice with the fourth overall pick Thursday night.

"I don't think the other guys in this draft really care as much as I do," Jackson said. "I don't think they play as hard as I do, period. I think that's what really makes me special. I refuse to fail, period."

Jackson joins a Suns team already loaded with youthful talent as the franchise continues the long climb back to relevance.

The 6-foot-8, 207-pound forward averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his lone season with the Jayhawks. The 20-year-old Jackson was the Big 12 freshman of the year and an all-Big 12 first-team selection.

He fills a Phoenix need with his defense. His shooting needs work but he is considered by many observers as the best all-around athlete in the draft.

Reaction at @Suns draft party to selection of Josh Jackson with No. 4 pick in @NBA draft. pic.twitter.com/7sk7vGHNBJ

— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) June 23, 2017

Jackson was available to the Suns because the Boston Celtics, picking third, chose another small forward, Jayson Tatum of Duke.

Jackson plays with an attitude to his game, something Phoenix coach Earl Watson loves in his players. Devin Booker does, too, so things could get interesting out on the wing for Phoenix.

Jackson joins an already-young team that came away with two lottery picks last year, thanks to a draft-night trade with Sacramento. The Suns chose then-18-year-old forward Dragan Bender with their pick last year, third overall, then acquired Sacramento's eighth selection from the Kings and chose 19-year-old forward Marquese Chriss.

Jackson knows he's joining a young team.

"I think that's really special, though," he said, "because coming in I think we can learn a lot together and over the years we can be something really special."

Coach Earl Watson, Marquese Chriss and Devin Booker are really like the @Suns' pick of Josh Jackson. pic.twitter.com/rwLsCzhdk7

— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) June 23, 2017

The Suns were not concerned about an off-court incident that Jackson was a part of last December. He was arrested after kicking in the tail light and denting the driver's door of a Kansas women's basketball player's car while she was in it.

He agreed to a diversion program that requires him to go to anger management class among other things in order to have the misdemeanor offense dismissed.

Asked about the incident, Jackson said, "I don't think it really represents who I am."

"You know, I made a mistake that day. I did," he said. "I admitted to it from day one. I think the whole situation was blown out of proportion, just because I am who I am."

Jackson said the incident "wasn't as bad as everybody made it out to be. But I have owned up to it and I accept responsibility for it from day one."

#tbt Congrats to my bro @j_josh11 welcome to the family! pic.twitter.com/O434f636QS

— Marquese Chriss (@quese) June 23, 2017

The Suns are enduring the longest playoff drought in franchises history. Phoenix hasn't made it to the postseason the last seven seasons.