(Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters/Brad Mills)
DeAndre Ayton is the best prospect in this draft class, and one of the best prospects we’ve seen in years. What are the essentials to know about the big man from Arizona ahead of the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday?
Ayton's strengths and weaknesses
Well…everything. At 7’1" and 250 pounds, Ayton has the perfect body for a centre, and the game to match. It’s almost like he’s a created player in an NBA 2K game; he truly is a big man with guard skills, tallied with the ability to move around the court like Joel Embiid, run in transition like Giannis Antetokounmpo, and bang down low with exceptional footwork on offense and defense.
Ayton is also capable of spacing the floor, with shooting averages of .612% and 343. Strong as both the roll and pop man, he’s already handled the mantle of night-in, night-out expectations at the University of Arizona, a burden many top picks struggle with when coming out.
There’s not a whole lot more you can ask of Ayton straight away. He’s almost the perfect prospect, limited only by his lack of knowledge at the next level. His pick and roll defense could get better, and will need to at the next level with the direction the professional game is heading in, but he’s easily mobile enough to turn that weakness into a strength.
Will he succeed or fail?
Ayton is crafted as if the crafter had the NBA in 2018 in mind. A potential generational talent, the Bahamian big man could make an immediate impact in the NBA, and continue to do so for years to come.
Like any other prospect this good, Ayton could only fail if you forcibly remove his confidence through sheer ineptitude and dysfunctionality. To that point, you may recoil at the fact he is likely to be drafted by the Phoenix Suns, but even they should not be enough of a basket case to screw this up.
Why should teams pick him?
Projecting Ayton’s range will get a bit easier when the draft order is confirmed on Tuesday, but it’s hard to see him falling past the Phoenix Suns at number one overall, if they win the lottery as predicted. If he does, the team in the two-hole will drop everything to take his name off the board.
When you look around the NBA today, veteran guards and wings jump out as the best players on the best teams remaining in the playoffs. Look a level below, and you see Embiid on the Philadelphia 76ers, Anthony Davis on the New Orleans Pelicans, Karl-Anthony Towns on the Minnesota Timberwolves and even Nikoa Jokic on the Denver Nuggets. All big men, all young, all in the playoffs and poised to be there next season, and all approaching the throne of basketball in the coming years.
To the buyer, Ayton could be your model, and he could be the best yet.
Where will Ayton end up in the 2018/19 NBA season? Comment below!