Deandre Ayton spent the morning flashing his skill for the Suns brass and early afternoon flashing his smile for the Suns media. The former University of Arizona star is affable and supremely confident.
“I know I’m going No. 1,” Ayton said after his workout with the Suns Wednesday.
Still sweating from a high-intensity hourlong effort on the Suns practice court, Ayton reiterated his desire to play in Phoenix, a city he and his family now call their second home. The 7-foot-1-inch native of the Bahamas also reiterated his belief that joining Devin Booker would give the Suns the one-two punch needed to return to the NBA’s elite.
“That’s Shaq and Kobe 2.0,” he said. “We can really make something happen in Phoenix.”
GM Ryan McDonough has been scouting Ayton in person and on film since his days at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, but Wednesday’s up-close and personal experience gave McDonough added appreciation for the tantalizing skillset Ayton possesses.
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“The way he shot the ball was pretty impressive,” said McDonough. “Not many 7-1 guys with that length and strength can step away from the basket and make shots. He did some of it at Arizona, but that wasn’t his role. You didn’t get to see him on the perimeter. Today he shot the NBA [three-pointer] pretty comfortably. He had really good form, touch, and rotation on the ball. For a guy his size, that was a little bit unique.”
Ayton, who averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds for Arizona last season, said he should be the No. 1 pick because he’s the “best competitor” in the draft.
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“I wouldn’t say I’m the best player,” Ayton said, “but I’m the best competitor. I give my heart on both ends of the floor.”
Ayton likens himself to Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon and he’s not alone when it comes to comparisons to two Hall of Fame players. Many feel Ayton is a hybrid of both players and because of that, he won’t get roped into any traditional NBA position. Center? Power forward? Don’t bother asking.
“I’m a basketball player,” said Ayton. “I don’t think there’s anybody like me.”
And he wants to be a Phoenix Sun – now and even before the franchise landed the No. 1 pick in the draft.
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"It's great, it's great. We take that obviously as a compliment," said McDonough of Ayton's desire to play for the Suns. "He has a lot of strong ties to this area. He's been working out here; he's been training here. The fact that he wants to be here, that's great."Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.