At CelticsHub this year we will be focusing on a potentially fluid list of the top 5 prospects and track their progress throughout the season. Since the Celtics will only select in this year’s lottery if the Los Angeles Lakers fall between the 2nd and 5th pick, it doesn’t make sense for Cs fans to get familiar with more than a handful of top prospects. In the weeks leading up to the college basketball season we will be introducing some of the names you should start to get to know and the number one reason why you should get excited about them. Next up: DeAndre Ayton
Arizona~Freshman~Big~7’0 (7’5.5″ wingspan), 260 lbs
Draft Range: Top 5
Ceiling Comp Group: David Robinson, Young Rasheed Wallace, Bigger Chris Webber
60 Words or Less: DeAndre Ayton seems less real than a unicorn. A person is not supposed to be that big and young and move around a basketball court like he does. That fact that he is so offensively skilled is actually ridiculous. There isn’t much #1 buzz around him now, but there will be and getting him 2-5 would be a huge steal.
#1 Reason To Get Excited About Deandre Ayton-The Perfect Modern Big Man
I am fully aware of the fact that I have basically become a modern big man obsessive. It feels like I can’t go three posts without talking about it. To be fair, it is both the Celtics greatest need and the NBAs most coveted commodity. As a refresher, the make-up of the modern big man is someone who is 6’10” plus, an elite run-and-jump athlete, and is skilled from the perimeter. These physical tools and skills should be complimented with a desire to defend and an aggressive offensive mentality.
I’ve had unicorn fever (flu?) for quite some time and Arizona’s Deandre Ayton is exactly what I need to cure my illness. I am going to try my best to stay grounded during this evaluation and not say that Ayton is Dirk Nowitzki living inside David Robinson’s body, but man is he exciting.
Ayton already has a physical profile that would put him at the top of the NBA food chain. There are long, lanky bigs in the draft every year. Not many of them are also 260 pounds with Dwight Howard’s shoulders and his 2009 pogo stick legs (Ayton has a reported 43.5 inch vertical leap). To keep the analogy going, there’s this, which is a two-year old picture. Kid is huge.
— Deandre Ayton (@RealDeandreAy) November 22, 2015
So about that athleticism…it’s real.
Here he is turning on the jets in Arizona’s Red and Blue scrimmage…
…and making mature, really good big men on the preseason #1 team in the country look like boys.
Athleticism without aggression is one of the most common red flags when looking at bust potential. Here’s Ayton going one-on-one in the post against Mohamed Bamba, the other top-ranked big man in 2018.
I think bullying your peer and dunking his 7’9″ wingspan into the basket qualifies as aggressive. Then there’s the skills, which are plenty. Ayton has a quick, compact stroke that he already shoots with confidence all over the court.
The face-up jumper
His jumper makes him a threat in both pick-and-pop and short roll ball screens.
So you want to switch the ball screen? GO TO WORK BIG FELLA!
YOU GET A RIGHTY JUMP HOOK!
AND YOU GET A RIGHTY JUMP HOOK!
We’ll be able to evaluate this more once there’s more college game film, but the willingness and touch are both there with his passing.
So to review: Deandre Ayton is a bigger, more athletic version of Al Horford and I am 100% not going to regret how over-the-top I am being about him. To say the blueprint is there for him to be an elite modern big man is understating it. The blueprint is there, the foundation has been laid, the frame went up easy and we’re starting to talk interior design.
If the Celtics land the second pick, I would take him over Doncic and maybe even Porter. If the Celtics pick 3-5 and he’s still there, it’s a no-brainer. Ayton is exactly what this Boston roster needs and he could grow with Tatum and Brown while learning under Al Horford, a perfect mentor. Danny Ainge always drafts talent over need, but it’s pretty sweet when you can do both.