NBA Draft: Deandre Ayton has the skill-set to be the next generational big man

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns, (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns, (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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DeAndre Ayton
LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 10: Most noteworthy Arizona forward Deandre Ayton (13) holds the All-Tournament team plaque after the championship game of the mens Pac-12 Tournament between and the USC Trojans and the Arizona Wildcats on March 10, 2018, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /


Deandre Ayton pre-draft hype is well warranted. Examination of the new generation of big men who currently dominate the NBA points to players like Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis. Each of this trio has certain commonalities and each has specific areas of weakness. Due to the fact Ayton will be compared to these players upon entry to the NBA, it makes sense to offer some early comparisons.

Perimeter Prowess:

Although all three can spread the floor to the perimeter there is an interesting gap among them. Hence, Towns shot 25 percent in college, and is the best of the trio as a pro (42.1`%). Embiid shot 20 percent from the perimeter in college, and consequently is the least effective from range in the trio (30.8%).  Porzingis falls in the middle with a 39.5 percent perimeter efficiency and was the best coming into the pros with a 35.9 percent efficiency.

In this regard Ayton is already ahead of Towns and Embiid not just in his efficiency (34.3%), but also in his attempts (1.0 per game versus  0.2). The litmus test many clubs use to determine how effective a player become from the perimeter is their free throw efficiency. Again, both Towns and Porzingis pre NBA efficiency from the charity stripe was a decent harbinger for their eventual success, as was Embiid’s weakness in this area.  Again, Ayton leans toward the positive.

Offensive Versatility:

Yet, it’s in two other areas where Ayton projects to give the trio a run for their money. His overall efficiency from the field points to a more versatile offensive ability. Of the comparison’s Embiid is the best in the post, but Ayton displays prowess in this area with the ability to use either hand and demonstrates decent playmaking ability.

Ayton brings sheer athleticism to the court. Additionally, for a big man Ayton is particularly light and quick on his feet. Once inside the perimeter Ayton gains multiple options to score at the rim. These include drives, utilizing his excellent footwork or his length for lobs or offensive rebounding.

Defensive potential:

Again, of the young trio comparison Ayton’s rebounding is light years ahead of his counterparts. In terms of blocks both Towns and Embiid were slightly better than Ayton in College. In the right system it should be assumed he’ll become an elite rim protector, but this isn’t guaranteed as his weaknesses attest to.


Although the ceiling projects positively, the biggest knock on Ayton is his defense. Therefore, like most young bigs he’ll need to improve his pick and roll defensive acumen. Another area of concern is based on his size and athletic ability his shot-blocking is sub par.  Once again however, in view of the comparison to the current trio, Porzingis was well behind in this regard and improved dramatically once in the league.

The double edge sword of youth also pops up in the weakness category. Deandre Ayton has demonstrated moments where he lacks focus, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. In truth unless the prospect is arriving as a defensive specialist this is something which should be expected from a young big.

As Ayton develops at the pro level he’ll need to learn how to maintain focus and intensity and channel Embiid rather than Towns defensively.


Examination of Deandre Ayton’s ability, potential ceiling and two-way ability offer substance for why clubs are salivating over his pro entry. Ultimately, the trio he’ll set his sights on may have ample reason to worry, Ayton feels like the modern day version of Boogie Cousins, albeit with a far more appealing demeanor. Given Ayton’s  agility and lightness on his feet another natural role model for him is Hakeem Olajuwon.

Ironically, if the Suns end up reuniting Doncic with his former coach you can bet Kings Vlade Divac will be delighted to pick Ayton with the second pick. This in itself is humorous given how much Ayton resembles Cousins. Not to mention, Divac has been trying to select a big man for years now who’ll measure up to his belief in their abilities. Deandre Ayton would undoubtedly be able to deliver in this regard.