Let the debate begin as Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton are the favorites to be selected by the Phoenix Suns No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Each player represents a vastly different path to go down. Doncic is a European point guard who has been playing professionally for Real Madrid since he was 16 years old. Ayton is a freakish big man who spent one year at Arizona, and is exactly the kind of center teams covet in the new NBA.
Expect the Doncic to Phoenix rumors to heat up as the Suns just hired Igor Kokoškov as their new head coach, who also happened to coach Doncic on Slovenia’s national team. Suns GM Ryan McDonough has tried to downplay the connection even before the Suns won the No. 1 pick.
“It’s [selecting Doncic] an easy assumption to make, but we’re going to draft whoever we think the best player is,” McDonough explained to AZ Central. “If we do get the Number 1 pick, Doncic will certainly be in that mix. But Ayton and a few other guys will, as well.”
In Heavy’s latest mock draft, we have Doncic going number one. His playmaking ability combined with his professional experience makes him the favorite in my eyes, but not by much. Guards are also becoming increasingly more important, making big men less valuable than ever before. Fans are seeing even the best NBA big men sidelined for large chunks of playoff games as they have become a liability in the post-season.
Some would argue this makes Ayton more valuable, since he is so much of a unicorn. Ayton can shoot, run the floor, post up defenders and is the perfect fit for the new NBA center prototype. Heading into the NBA draft lottery, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony gave the nod to Ayton.
Ayton was beginning to answer some of the questions scouts have had about him since high school with a string of dominant performances down the stretch, before finishing the college season on a poor note in an early NCAA tournament exit.
Physically, he’s one of the most gifted prospects we’ve seen in the draft in the past few years, and he has an impressive skill level, to boot.
Like Heavy, The Ringer also has Doncic ranked as their top prospect. Here’s how The Ringer described Doncic’s game.
A basketball prodigy dominating the ACB and EuroLeague as a teenager who could become a game-changing NBA playmaker…Transcendent passer: Throws Manu-style overhead whips, accurate cross-court dimes, and no-looks that’ll make highlight reels. Puts perfect velocity and touch on passes, plus has the height to pass over the defense. Surgically navigates pick-and-rolls, snaking to the middle, keeping defenders on his back, and picking defenses apart as a passer. Advanced ball handler for his age with an excellent feel for using crossovers, hesitations, and different speeds. Struggles to contain quicker, more explosive players due to average agility and lateral quickness…Jumper needs some slight adjustments: He occasionally misses left or right. Could stand to speed up his release.
While Doncic and Ayton are the favorite for the top spot, other players are also in the running like Duke forward Marvin Bagley. His NBA fit is not exactly as clear, but Bagley’s high motor along with his athleticism gives him a chance to compete right away. It will be interesting to see if he can narrow the gap by draft day. Who do you think should go No. 1? Leave your prediction in the comments section.
Here’s a look at some of the top highlights from both Ayton and Doncic.