The 6-2, 180-pound guard scored a career-high 44 points including eight three-pointers on May 23 against top-seeded Monaco in the first round of playoffs. But while the Suns accomplished that goal, it may not be immediately reflected in their record next season.
Deandre Ayton is learning that it's quite lonely at the top. Though many analysts - including both yours truly and GiveMeSport's Mark Deeks - had Real Madrid star Luka Doncic atop their big boards, the Suns' interest in Ayton was one of the draft's worst-kept secrets. The Suns needed a center to pair with franchise cornertsone Devin Booker and they did just that. Suns general manager Ryan McDonough didn't exactly hide his intentions, either. "We think Deandre has that kind of potential".
He averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game while shooting 61.6 percent from the field, and was "Karl Malone Power Forward" of the year consensus First Team All-American. His ability to defend the likes of Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook will determine whether he can exclusively be an offensive weapon or develop into a transcendent big man at both ends of the floor like Joel Embiid. Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk will hope that his new starting backcourt will, in time, begin to resemble the one he had in Golden State, where he spent several years as an assistant general manager before taking control of the Hawks last summer.
Deandre Ayton has not played a single second in the National Basketball Association, but he's already getting mentioned in Joel Embiid's tweets. Even if he struggles defensively at first, he could look toward DeMarcus Cousins and Karl-Anthony Towns as examples to emulate until he gets up to speed on defence.
During the Phoenix Suns' draft party on Thursday night, fans had the chance to preorder Ayton's jersey.
Then came the announcement that Deandre Ayton would go to the Suns with the first overall pick.More news: The Supreme Court just caused stocks of online retailers to tumble
Aside from fixable defensive woes, there really isn't much left to say about his skill and school lineage.
The center was also unable to defend the pick-and-roll effectively, which is a major concern due to the NBA's guard dominated style of play. "The door is going to be open, and he's going to be more than welcome to join us".
On defence, Bridges should provide an instant boost to a unit that ranked 30th league-wide last season. Between Bridges and 2017 #4 overall pick Josh Jackson, the Suns now have a pair of young wing defenders who can switch between positions interchangeably and clog up passing lanes. According to Gambadoro, Phoenix anticipates bringing Okobo over immediately, where he's likely to compete with Knight and Tyler Ulis for backup minutes right away. Okobo has also represented France in worldwide competition, leading the French to a bronze medal at the 2017 FIBA U20 European Championship in Greece, and ranking third in scoring at the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship in Finland with 18.9 points per game. Free agency starts July 1 and McDonough wants some veteran players to add to this very young core.
Sure, it cost the Mavs a 2019 first-rounder, but they now have two franchise guards in Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. and have the cap flexibility to pursue some big-name free agents this offseason.
Now the Suns move on to the next phase. The Western Conference remains as cut-throat as ever, and that's before considering the possibility of a super team arising overnight in Los Angeles. It's time to cash in, they figured, and did it with that trade.
"I don't like it when people think I'm just a guy down low", he said. A young core that includes wingman Josh Childress and rising scoring threat TJ Warren could make the young Suns unsafe.