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
CHICAGO, IL – MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospect, Deandre Ayton poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Combine circuit on May 15, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Current rankings:

Although not the consensus number one draft choice, Ayton holds the top spot on more lists than any of his counterparts.

  • DraftExpress/ESPN: 1st
  • NBA DraftNet: 1st
  • CBS Sports:1st
  • Sports Illustrated: 1st
  • Bleacher Report: 2nd
  • Basketball Insiders: 1st
  • The Ringer Kevin O’Connor: 2nd

Honors and Awards

Pro Comparison:

Kevin O’Connor offers three big men up as Ayton’s comparison: Patrick Ewing, Karl-Anthony Towns and DeMarcus Cousins. In addition, DraftNet offers Ayton comparisons to Sean Kemp and David Robinson. The mix of this quintet seems odd on first glance. Ewing was a beast in the post, but was a pro prior to the perimeter big man era. Conversely, KAT is  the new era big , but needs to develop his post game. While Sean Kemp was a physical specimen who alongside Gary Payton gave pick and roll new meaning. And, recalling David Robinson his overall game (like his twin tower partner Tim Duncan) was fundamentally brilliant.

Cousins dominates both inside and outside the paint and is a solid rebounder. Ignoring his penchant for pouting, Cousins pre-injury was arguably the best center in the NBA.

The overriding takeaway is the fact Ayton is being compared to these five uber talents. It speaks to how highly regarded Ayton is and what he projects to be in the pros – a superstar. From my perspective Ayton best channels the Cousins’ comparison sans the attitude.

Granted college doesn’t necessarily mean immediate transference of skillsets to the NBA. But, Ayton already appears to possess more versatility in his game than Towns, simply because of his paint ability.

The Fit:

More from Thunderous Intentions

With Phoenix selecting first, another added level of uncertainty exists. Proximity has allowed the Suns brain trust to get possibly the best view of Ayton’s in his tenure as a Wildcat. However, the hiring of Igor Kokoskov as the Suns new head coach offers even greater intrigue.

Although Suns GM Ryan McDonough toyed with the Combine panel Phoenix would be open to moving the first round pick, don’t believe it for one second. Consequently, this is a watershed moment for the franchise as they land the top pick for the first time in history. Moreover, with what feels like a can’t miss of two top draft choices in areas they need help the Suns will keep the pick.

Still, with Devin Booker on the precipice of super stardom the Suns greatest need still lies in the frontcourt and as such Deandre Ayton is the logical pick. But, who says drafts have to follow logic? Just ask Bryan Colangelo if he had it to do over whether he would still make the trade with Danny Ainge in order to select Markelle Fultz with the top pick.

Hindsight is 20-20 and right up until the moment Adam Silver approaches the microphone on June 21st it’s likely not even Deandre Ayton or Luka Doncic will know which name will be uttered.

Next: Luka Doncic prospect profile: Human Rorschach Test

Given that fact, there isn’t much use in looking at how Ayton would fit on the Thunder. Let’s face it he’ll be a great addition wherever he lands. But, short of the sky falling it’s not a situation Sam Presti will need to ponder.