2018 Potential NBA Draft Bust: Deandre Ayton

Synopsis: The Phoenix Suns selected Deandre Ayton with the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Based on their proximity, teams scouts had plenty of opportunities to watch Ayton play for the Arizona Wildcats last year. Given everything I’ve seen, I have no basis to second guess the pick. As detailed in the following post, I give the 2018 consensus 1st Team All-American a very low probably of becoming a Top 10 Bust. 

2018 Potential NBA Draft Bust: Deandre Ayton
#1 Actual Pick: Deandre Ayton / T10B Mock Draft: Deandre Ayton 

As part of my mock 2018 NBA Draft, I offered the following commentary on the 2018 #1 overall pick.

Taking a chapter out of NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr’s book, I’ll retire if the Suns don’t take Deandre Ayton with the first overall pick. As an athletic big man who can stretch the floor, Ayton deserves to go #1.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to face that dilemma because the Suns obliged by taking the Arizona center with their #1 pick. As a quick and dirty evaluation, I offer the following comparison with another athletic big man who went with the 1st overall pick. 

Player Stats PPG RPG APG BPG SPG Excess Value*
Deandre Ayton College (2017-18) 20.1 11.6 1.6 1.9 0.6  
David Robinson NBA Career 21.1 10.6 2.5 3.0 1.4 2.4x

Note: “Excess Value” indicates how much more productive the comparable player was relative to production from an average draft pick. In this case, David Robinson was 2.4x more productive than the average #1 overall pick. 

By no means do I think Ayton will match the Hall of Fame career of The Admiral. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if he put up similar numbers for at least 5-6 years. As additional support, I offer the evaluation of ESPN analysts Jay Bilas and Chauncey Billups.

  • Prototypical modern-day big man who can do it all.
  • Complete offensive player.
  • Can face up and play with his back to the basket.
  • Has a nice jump shot.
  • Can get any rebound he wants.
  • Can pass out of the post.
  • Concerned about his motor to play hard every day.
  • Overall, viewed as a fluid and freakish athlete.
  • Comparable Player: Joel Embiid.
  • Can’t miss guy at #1 spot.
  • Very agile.
  • Can run floor.
  • Rim protector.
  • Can guard pick & roll.
  • Complete offensive game.
  • Has a lot of promise.

With 1 1/2 healthy years under his belt, Embiid has averaged 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. Robinson matched those numbers for the equivalent of 12 seasons. In addition, the Hall of Famer won two NBA titles so he offers a more lofty goal for the 2018 #1 pick.  

At this point, there’s no need to change my evaluation. I give Ayton a 10% chance of being a bust, and a 2% chance of being a Top 10 Bust. Point being, it’s not gonna happen.

2018 Potential NBA Draft Bust: Deandre Ayton