The Suns selected Arizona 7-foot-1 center Deandre Ayton No. 1 overall in the NBA draft Thursday night at Barclays Center.
Ayton went as expected before a trade hit just two picks later that shook up a multitude of draft boards. The Mavericks sent the fifth pick, which became Trae Young, and a future first to Atlanta for the No. 3 pick, European star Luka Doncic, who is seen as the scorer Dallas desperately needs. NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the trade shortly before the No. 7 pick, which was Chicago grabbing Duke 6-foot-10 big Wendell Carter Jr.
Ayton, a physical specimen consensus first team All-American with a massive 7-foot-5 wingspan, had claimed he would be the No. 1 pick after his workout with the Suns, his only pre-draft audition with any team. Ayton, a one-and-done guy who averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds, gives the Suns a potentially blistering two-man game combo with Devin Booker.
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“The two-man game is really lethal in the NBA today and the spacing of the floor. In transition, having that pick-and-roll early in the game is crazy,” said Ayton, one of only four 20-and-10 guys nationally this past season. “I can pick-and-pop and Devin is a threat coming off the pick, so that’d be pretty hard to guard.”
The Bahamas-born Ayton is the first player from that country to be a No. 1 pick since Mychal Thompson in 1978. Of course, the Suns may now want to wait a decade-plus and hope Ayton has a draftable son like Klay Thompson.
“It’s just a huge opportunity to show the world that we’re coming,” Ayton said. “Bahamian people are coming. We’re not just only a country of track and field athletes. We can also play basketball.”