DeAndre Ayton may just be the first pick in this year’s NBA draft and with so many young teams aching for talent at center, what would the Arizona big man bring to the table in the pros?
Weight: 260 ibs.
Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas
After just one season at Arizona, Ayton has shown he’s clearly the top player in this year’s draft. He’s massive at well over 7 feet tall and won’t have to worry about building strength early on as his body’s ready to take on bigs in the NBA. As far as shooting is concerned, Ayton already has a solid turn around jumper and can even knock down a three on occasion, shooting it in the mid thirties on the year. With his size and strength down low, it’s unlikely teams would utilize him on the perimeter very much, but knowing he can hit a long range shot will affect defenses and space the floor. Ayton’s defense, however, was poor throughout the year and he showed a general lack of effort on that side of the ball. It’ll be even tougher for him to keep up with skilled bigs and slashing guards once he gets to the league. He was able to put up around 2 blocks a game for the Wildcats this year but with his height and length, that should be expected. Where the Bahaman big man could also improve is his skill down low. Though he was able to get around Pac-12 centers easily this season, he’ll run into lockdown defenders in the NBA. Ayton utilized his spin move and turn around well this year but he’ll need to be quicker to transform Into a top professional center.
With his size and potential it’s possible Ayton becomes one of the best to ever play, but who can we compare him to to measure how he’ll fair in the league? With his athleticism, it’s easy to see a little of young Dwight Howard in him, but for a more recent pick I would go with Karl-Anthony Towns. Ayton’s height, shooting ability, and offensive awareness make him comparable to Towns who’s already established himself as one of the best big men in the NBA. While Ayton would have to work on moving his jumper a little farther out and becoming smoother in one-on-one situations inside, he can certainly be a better defender than Towns early on due to his strength. After averaging a double-double in a power-5 conference and showing clear signs of All-Star potential it’s hard to imagine Ayton’s floor being any lower than a Rockets version of Dwight, but there’s a chance he could even be as great as a legend like David Robinson. He’s much less aware on defense as Robinson was but they match up perfectly size and strength wise and with Ayton’s athletic ability he has a chance to get to that level.
Best Team Fit:
If things go right for Phoenix in the lottery they’d be crazy to not take Ayton with the first pick and keep him in Arizona. There’s been recent talk of Ayton’s desire to be in Phoenix with Devin Booker and possibly create a similar version of the early 2000’s partnership of Shaq and Kobe. The offensive firepower of both these two young stars would be unstoppable for future teams and with Tyson Chandler still a member of the Suns frontcourt, Phoenix would have a perfect defensive mentor for Ayton. The Suns are the team for him.