Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

NBA Draft 2018 Player Profile: Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton
At the exact time when it appears that the traditional, old-school NBA big man was on its way out of the game Deandre Ayton shows up. The former five-star recruit ended up at Arizona, where he put together a masterful '17-'18 under head coach Sean Miller, posting averages of 20.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG and 1.9 BPG. There were times when Ayton looked like a man against boys in the collegiate ranks, and it looks like a near lock at this point he will be Phoenix's No. 1 pick come late June. Is the powerful center really worth the top overall selection in a strong Draft? Will he really be a right fit in the modern NBA? Diving deep into his game indicates just how special he could be, and cements his status as a "generational" talent.

Quick Facts
Deandre Ayton
From: San Diego, California
Height: 7'0"
Age: 20
Team: Arizona Wildcats

The way that Deandre Ayton operates on the low block is truly reminiscent of some classic, legendary NBA bigs. He has power, soft touch around the rim and plays with an incredible passion and stamina. Standing at seven foot tall, with arms that are built like tree trunks, he overpowered so many opponents in his time in high school and college. He isn't going to be able to do that at the next level, but his versatile game should still hold up. Ayton is a beast on the glass, offensively and defensively. He is great at reading the ball and positioning himself correctly, and is able to finish when he does snatch up offensive boards. He is such a monster around the rim, just look at this dunk against Oregon earlier this year, in which he is able to control the ball and finish over multiple defenders. If he can become a little bit more polished in the low post, and develop a wider set of moves, you see the immense potential that is there. Ayton is also a very good shooter, although he isn't going to be considered a stretch five in the Association. He attempted just 35 three-pointers in his lone season with Arizona, and hit at 34%, a very respectable rate. However, his real strength is in the mid range, where he has a well-built jumper and can create his own shot. You can imagine how good he could be with an even better jumper, where he could be next to unstoppable. Defensively, Ayton isn't going to be an elite-level rim protector, but he can still be an impact defender. He swatted two shots per game while with Arizona, and he has incredibly long arms, allowing him to cover an insane amount of space.

The big question I have about Ayton is whether he can do what he did against college competition in the NBA. It is one thing to dominate meager Pac-12 competition, and it is completely different to go up against the elite big men in the Association, from Anthony Davis to Karl-Anthony Towns and Demarcus Cousins. The next level will be significantly faster, stronger and well-rounded, which will be obviously a huge adjustment for Ayton. With that being said, rookies join the league every year and are able to adjust, and Ayton already looks like an NBA veteran. I'd also like to see Ayton get better at the finer parts of his game, such as free throw shooting and setting good, strong screens. He shot 73 percent from the stripe with Arizona, and has the potential to get even better. He could become a real threat as the big on pick-and-roll plays, with how massive he already is. If he can get better at opening up teammates and become a threat as a jump shooter off the roll, he becomes terrifying to stop.

My Take
I hate to overreact and get hyperbolic with 20-year-olds who have played against college competition for a couple months, but I think Deandre Ayton is going to be special. Watching him this past season, he looked like an NBA big, and his numbers speak for themselves. I think he is the best NBA Draft big to come out since Anthony Davis in 2012, but there are still questions to answer. Can he grow his offensive game, and become a shooter? Can he get even better defensively and read NBA offenses? If he does, he evolves into a big man like KAT, instead of going the other route, like a Jahlil Okafor.

Where He'll Go
Ayton has been primed to go near the top of this Draft for the entire season, and has only impressed scouts throughout his time with the Wildcats and in workouts. I'm a fan of Luka Doncic and I have also been a huge advocate for Marvin Bagley, but I don't think either of those guys are at Ayton's level. He has the chance to be something incredibly special, and he should be the No. 1 selection in this Draft. All the rumors we are hearing is that the Suns think the same, and they'll stay within the state to land the dynamic center.

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.