The Suns selected Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
Coming out of high school, the Bahamian was recognized as the top recruit in his class. After considering Kentucky and Kansas, Ayton chose Arizona in order to stay close to home so his family would be able to see him play.
Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in his lone season with the Wildcats.
This is the Suns’ first time making the draft’s first overall selection. Phoenix finished with the worst record in the league last season and won the NBA draft lottery.
SI’s Jeremy Woo, who compares Ayton to Joel Embiid, broke down Ayton’s strengths and weaknesses. He also graded Phoenix’s selection.
There was no reason to overthink this. In my eyes, Ayton has been the top prospect in this draft dating back to October, and his clean fit in Phoenix, freakish athletic traits and developing skill level make him more than worthy for this selection. He will be one of the most athletic 7-footers in the league from the outset, and the key for him will be settling in as a defender to access his full potential. Ayton has all the talent necessary to become a star. The Suns made the easiest choice here, and can begin to build firmly around Ayton and Devin Booker, hoping they form a killer inside-out tandem to lift the franchise back to relevance. Grade: A
• Elite physical specimen. Lean, muscular frame with 7’5” wingspan and 9’3” standing reach, similar to Joel Embiid. Already in the upper echelon of NBA bigs from an athletic standpoint.
• Nice-looking, projectable jump shot with range. Made 12 of 35 three-pointers and 73% of his free throws.
• Able to score over either shoulder in the paint or simply overpower opponents for dunks. Learning to use his size and strength to his advantage. Powerful finisher, particularly off a clean gather.
• Good passer out of double teams. Feels pressure coming and is willing to find open teammates.
• Excellent rebounder within his area. Size allows him to corral balls other players can’t. Rated 16th nationally in defensive rebound percentage and 40th in offensive rebound percentage.
• Quick enough feet to have utility defending mobile big men in space and help hedge on ball screens.
• Responded well to being seriously coached and challenged for the first time at Arizona. When his competitive juices are flowing, he can be extremely difficult to stop.
• Mediocre defensive awareness. Misses rotations and occasionally takes plays off entirely. Good but not great shot-blocker who should improve with better positioning.
• Played out of position at power forward next to a pure center in Dusan Ristic, which may have been a setback in processing help defense and other principles.
• Prefers to elevate and go get the ball rather than box out his man, which will be harder to get away with in the NBA.
• Not consistent running the floor. Tends to trail the play and seek spot-up opportunities instead of getting out ahead for easy baskets.
• Had a reputation for dogging it in high school. Chance remains he reverts to his old ways and doesn’t fulfill his full potential.