Prospect Preview: DeAndre Ayton

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

DEANDRE AYTON, C, ARIZONA
Class: Freshman
Ht: 7-foot-1
Wt: 250 pounds
2017-18 Stats: 20.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 1.6 apg

HOW HE OPERATES

DeAndre Ayton is the near perfect blend of power with quickness and athleticism. He is so potentially dominant on the block that he’ll be the first true test case in this new era of NBA basketball of whether a post player of this caliber will be reduced to a bit role while shooters launch threes around him every night. Ayton is at his best on the block, and any team would be justified by running a significant chunk of offense through him. He shot 56.2 percent in post-ups, and 80.5 percent in both offensive rebound put backs and off of cuts.

On the block, if Ayton catches the ball with deep position, the possession is over. He will dunk, and head back to the defensive end of the court. When he’s not dunking, Ayton possess a reliable right-handed hook shot, and a decent short left-handed hook. He is not a great jump shooter – just 35.4 percent on those attempts during the season. But he can knock them down, especially on the baseline. As the trailer in transition, Ayton has been known to let a top-of-the-arc 3-pointer fly. He’s got a good enough jump shooting game to keep a defense honest. Around the rim, if he’s not dunking the ball, however, Ayton can be forced into missing some layups under pressure.

He’s got great hands, and made catches of all kinds whether there was one defender or multiple defenders, or whether the pass was not necessarily on target. Ayton projects as an absolute beast in pick-and-roll plays, but at Arizona he chose to pop out for jump shots more than cut to the rim. That would change in the NBA, and he’d make an offense much more difficult to guard because the defense would need more resources to slow him down. In transition, Ayton runs the court like a track star and finishes strong. As a 73 percent free throw shooter, he will not be subjected to intentional fouls to reduce his impact on the court.

Defensively, Ayton’s got good feet. He’s able to get out to shooters, and stay with ball handlers on switches. If he’s beaten off the dribble, he’s got the quickness and length to recover and get the blocked shot anyway. He’ll continue to work on his defensive discipline in terms of staying locked in to every possession and not getting sucked into the post too far away from shooters on the perimeter. He blocks and alters shots of all kinds, and projects as a true rim protector in the NBA. He has quick enough hands to get steals as a complement to teammates putting good pressure on the ball on the perimeter.

HIS BEST FIT

Any team that will truly keep him among the top three options on the offensive end. Ayton needs the ball, and is nearly unstoppable when he gets it. He’ll also be a significant force on the defensive end. He is the frontrunner to be the No. 1 overall pick of the draft.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter

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