There were two players that people thought the Suns would choose between with the first pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. One was Deandre Ayton, a center from the University of Arizona, while the other was Luka Doncic, a guard from the club Real Madrid in Europe.
In the end, the Suns made the pick that most people expected by selecting Ayton. Doncic went third overall to the Atlanta Hawks, who then traded him to the Dallas Mavericks.
Fast forward two years and Doncic is already a star. The reigning rookie of the year is now averaging nearly a triple-double in only his second season in the league. Point guard Trae Young, who was drafted with the fifth pick is nearly as good, averaging just below 30 points and 10 assists per game.
The performance of these two players has led to people concluding that the selection of Deandre Ayton was a bad pick.
However, Deandre Ayton was the right pick for the Suns to make. Here’s why.
With all the attention on Doncic and Young, not many people have realized that behind these two superstars, Ayton has quietly been living up to every bit of the hype that the first pick typically receives. Ayton had a solid rookie season, averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds.
In this rookie year, he definitely showed that he had the potential to be the Suns’ big man for the future with his reliable rebounding, his smooth mid-range jumper, and his polished finishing skills, as well as his insane athleticism (43-inch vertical for a 7’1” big man).
Ayton didn’t play much in year two due to injury and suspension, but he had an excellent sophomore season. In 30 games played, he averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds, both leaps from his rookie year. His biggest improvement was probably on defense, where he improved from 0.9 blocks per game to 1.7 blocks per game.
It seems as if he has proven that he can be the big man that the Suns need for their franchise.
The Suns filled a need at the center position by drafting Deandre Ayton, and he seems to be their long-term answer. Signs are pointing towards him becoming an elite big man in the NBA. Give it some time, and he will finally get the attention he deserves.
Image: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports