2018 NBA Draft Profile: DeAndre Ayton
DeAndre Ayton is a straight-up unicorn. He is fantastic at everything, and his physical skills are immaculate. His athleticism is absolutely remarkable given his size. Most have Ayton as their top prospect in this year's draft cycle. He's an incredible player and will without a doubt, be drafted within the first three picks of June's draft.
Ayton has elite size, strength, and footwork. All three of those traits are what is most desirable for a player of Ayton's size and position. In his single season for the Arizona Wildcats, Ayton averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal per game. In comparison, Lauri Markkanen, who played at Arizona just one year earlier, averaged 16 points, seven rebounds, and one assist, on top of one block. Granted, Markkanen and Ayton have completely different skillsets, this comparison shows how dominant Ayton was at Arizona.
Okay, so Ayton puts up monster numbers. But he's also incredibly efficient at what he does. He shot 61% from the field and 34% from three (on one shot per game). His three-point jumper could definitely use some work, and if developed correctly, could be deadly.
Weight: 260 lbs
Wing Span: 7'5.5"
DOB: July 23, 2018 (19 years old)
Ayton's biggest strength is his athleticism, which as mentioned before, could make him a unicorn. Ayton's transition game has also been elite at Arizona. His ability to run the floor is exquisite. Ayton has a decent jumper for his size but it still could definitely use some work and will likely improve at the next level. He has the ability to make any shot. Ayton can constantly play above the rim as he has a 9'3" standing reach. Ayton was lackadaisical on defense at Arizona, but with his size and athleticism, he can easily become a better defender.
Ayton's biggest weakness is that he does not play like he has anything to prove. He knows he's the best player, and didn't put in the effort I wanted to see in the NCAA tournament, being upset by Buffalo in the first round. Ayton scored 14 points and caught 13 rebounds in his final game as a Wildcat. You have to 'want it' to be successful in the NBA and Ayton has not proved that he truly 'wanted it' at Arizona. Ayton also is far from a finished product defensively. He has Joel Embiid potential if he can harness his physical skills on the defensive end.
Ayton has all of the physical skills to be a successful NBA player. He has potential to be a top-five player in the league. But his motivation and lack of connection on defense concern me. Ayton already has the frame to make an instant impact for whichever team he lands on. It is more than likely Ayton will be the number one overall pick in this year's NBA draft, and he certainly has the skills to back that up.
Ceiling: NBA Superstar/Unicorn (i.e. Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns)
Middle Ground: All-Star/ Andre Drummond-tier player
Floor: Average Starter/ Nikola Vucevic-tier player
Projection: 1st Overall Pick
Grade: 1st Overall Pick
There are multiple players worth the first overall pick in the NBA draft this season. DeAndre Ayton is one of those players.