DeAndre Ayton in the spotlight tonight
The biggest name going into tonight’s National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft is a Bahamian.
Indeed, DeAndre Ayton, the 7’1” center, who recently completed his freshman year at the University of Arizona, will be the name mostly in the spotlight. He is likely to be picked No. 1 by the Phoenix Suns.
Mychal Thompson is the finest Bahamian-born basketball product ever. He played 12 years in the NBA and proved to be a solid performer throughout, while capturing two NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. Ayton has the credentials to have a career equal to, or one that surpasses Thompson’s.
Whether he joins Thompson or not as a No. 1 pick, Ayton definitely appears to have what it takes to be a force in the NBA for a long time, barring any serious injury. It must be noted that Ayton is at such a high point of interest after just one year in college. Thompson spent four years with the University of Minnesota.
Ayton recorded historic freshman statistics at Arizona, inclusive of the most points (704), most field goals made (276), most 20-point games (17), total rebounds (405), best rebound average (11.6), most double-digit scoring games (33), most double-doubles (24), and most total blocks in a season (66). They are numbers of significance, for sure.
For the season, Ayton averaged 20.1 points per game, to go with the aforementioned 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. I have heard and read that some analysts question Ayton’s capacity as a defender.
I don’t have that concern. In college, he had to work so hard each game, offensively, which was necessary for Arizona. In the NBA, he should be able to be positioned around the basket more and his rebounds will go up accordingly. Also, I think he will be a strong shot blocker. His 7’5” wingspan will aid him tremendously. I see him as the real deal. Certainly, Ayton is just what the coach ordered. He is good in transition, has post moves that remind one of Hakeem Olajuwon, and that big first step to the basket is reminiscent of Patrick Ewing. On defense, he could be a menace for opposing players seeking to finish at the basket.
Ayton also has a skill, quality centers of the past never acquired. Big Ayton is able to step back behind the three-point line and effectively sink the basketball. So indeed, he has an ability to stretch defenses. If as expected, the Suns select Ayton, he will make a big difference. The Suns had the worst win/loss record in the NBA last season, 21-61. They will be better with Ayton. The expectation is that he will make the Suns a contender for postseason play.
It figures, he will transform the Suns. The draft will be carried on ESPN and the first round is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
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