The Phoenix Suns made the obvious, and likely smart choice by not going off the board with the first-overall selection in Thursday's NBA Draft when they selected Deandre Ayton as the number one pick. Ayton will immediately play for the Suns who were at the bottom of the league with a record of 21-61 last season, and he'll certainly help on offense with a wide frame, NBA-ready physique and 20.1 points and 11.6 rebound average he brings with him. There are questions about his defensive play and ability to protect the rim at the pro level, but those will be answered soon enough.
There were other potential choices for the Suns to make. Marvin Bagley III went to Sacremento and Luka Doncic to Atlanta (who then flipped him to Dallas) and both could have been argued as legitimate contenders for number one overall. Still, Ayton is imposing, athletic and almost everything the Suns could want in a draft choice.
Here are a few reasons the Suns stuck with their gut and took Deandre Ayton first in the 2018 NBA Draft.
He's a Stud Offensively
“I could see a little Shaq and Kobe 2.0” — Deandre Ayton pic.twitter.com/aW1jncOoOa— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2018
Outside of being big and NBA ready in size and stature, Ayton offers things that teams could only dream of having in their big men of years ago. Able to grab rebounds and rock the rim, Ayton is also able to knock down shots away from the basket with a nice shooting touch.
Sure, his defense is a question, but most believe it will develop and no other prospect has a dominant set of tools like Ayton. When paired with Suns star Devin Booker and last year’s lottery selection Josh Jackson, Phoenix now has a trio that could be dangerous in years to come.
He's Driven to Improve
There's always a feel-good story or two that comes out of any pro sports draft. The story of a kid who was able to overcome and do great things despite being told he couldn't. A case can be made that Deandre Ayton was that guy in this year's NBA Draft.
Called "tall for nothing" by scouts early in his career, and at one time, so bad at the game he took a summer job just to make $100 to get into a basketball camp, Ayton understands that getting better never stops and that being the first overall selection is simply the start of his journey. Bad teams need players who strive to do more than other prospects can or will. The Suns were awful. Having someone like Ayton will not only work to make himself better but will work to make others around him better will be key to their long-term success.
He's From Arizona
Staying in Arizona!— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 21, 2018
The Phoenix Suns select center Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 pick. pic.twitter.com/VLuPNefePI
A native of Nassau, Bahamas, who didn't play basketball until after the age of 12, Ayton is really an Arizona kid. He went to high school in Arizona and college in Arizona and now he's been drafted by the pro-NBA franchise out of Arizona.
Ayton attended Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix, Arizona for his final two years of high school and then landed at the nearby University of Arizona as a highly recruited college freshman. After only one season, he was named to the Associated Press' All-American Team.
Ayton now lives in Phoenix with his mother, who moved to the U.S. to join him.
He Will Usher in A New Era of Big Men
Ayton is now the modern day NBA athlete that teams are looking for. In the past, when bigs were supposed to stay near the rim and handle the boards, post up and score from inside, today's NBA is about versatile scoring and big men who can shoot.
The Suns view Ayton as an elite level athlete who can do a little bit of everything and that's going to be the key to him fitting into their offense right away. The sooner he can make an impact, the better since the Suns need to make the biggest improvement of any team to have a sniff at the postseason next year.