2018 NBA draft — Phoenix Suns select Deandre Ayton at No. 1


Deandre Ayton‘s new NBA home won’t be too far from his college one.

Ayton, the 7-foot center who starred as a freshman at Arizona, was selected with the first overall pick by the Phoenix Suns, who kicked off the NBA draft at Barclays Center in New York with a selection that was widely expected entering Thursday night.

The Suns never before had selected first overall in the draft, and with Ayton now on board, they hope not to do so again in the near future.

“Having my name called being the first pick for the Phoenix Suns was mind-blowing,” he said. “Having all that confidence leading up to that point when I saw [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver come out, I was just waiting for my name. He just called it and my mind went blank. I just did the routine everyone else is supposed to do and I just soaked in and enjoyed the moment. I saw the reaction on my mom’s face and it was just priceless.”

The Suns kept busy Thursday night, later acquiring the draft rights to Mikal Bridges in a deal that sent Zhaire Smith, selected at No. 16, to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Suns also sent a 2021 first-round pick via the Miami Heat to the Sixers, who had taken Bridges, the former Villanova star, at No. 10.

As for Ayton, the Suns get a player who possesses elite physical traits, a developing inside-out skill set and already one of the most athletic centers in the league. If there’s a weakness, it’s his defense, although he has all the tools to be a quality rim protector given time.

Sixers star Joel Embiid, always a presence on Twitter, laughed off any defensive comparisons of Ayton to him.

Ayton, though, told reporters Thursday night that he’ll be fine protecting the rim.

“Most definitely,” he said. “I haven’t had the exposure in college to really guard big men, or the big men that I guard haven’t really touched the ball or really do what they were supposed to do.

“I know the game is changing a lot, but I just want to stick to the old-school big man. Being down low and really trying to be dominant.”

Ayton, who turns 20 in July, starred in his one season at Arizona, where he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, while averaging 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, and shooting 61.2 percent from the field. His 24 double-doubles tied for the second-most ever by a freshman in Division I history.

Phoenix needs the help on both ends of the floor. It was one of only two teams in the previous 20 seasons to finish last in both offensive and defensive efficiency, joining the historically bad 2011-12 Bobcats (worst win percentage in NBA history, .106).

Source : ESPN