Why did the Suns choose Deandre Ayton over Luka Doncic?

Leading up to the 2018 NBA Draft, Luka Doncic dominated the discussion.

Prominent in Europe for many years as a kid playing against men, Doncic seemed like a sure-fire future NBA star.

Debuting Real Madrid at the age of 15, it took two seasons as a professional before he led the team to the EuroLeague title, while also winning the EuroLeague MVP title in the process.

Four years on, Doncic is a legitimate MVP contender, with many wondering how and why he slipped past the Suns’ finger.

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Despite showing the obvious talent of a potential #1 overall pick, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony highlights some of the potential challenges facing international prospects.

“Given such a small scale the world has become so small, and although we have more movies and information available than ever before, I still believe international players are at a disadvantage in the NBA draft process compared to the rest of the world. with their NCAA colleagues,” Givony wrote.

“There’s simply a degree of comfort and familiarity for NBA teams in finding college players that international players aren’t interested in. Most NBA execs are going to Europe one day. or twice, and what happens if you get into a bad match or two?”

Of course, the US has produced countless top picks that have fallen short of expectations, but perhaps the international outlook is more memorable. Andrea Bargnani was the #1 overall pick from the 2006 Draft. Or even Ricky Rubio, who, like Doncic, made an impressive resume as a teenager in Europe. Now in season 11 in the NBA after being picked as No. 5 in the 2009 NBA Draft, Rubio has had a successful professional career without a doubt, but he hasn’t reached the All-Star level many had hoped for. hope.

Before the Draft, there were some question marks as to whether Doncic would want to play for Sacramento, Atlanta or Memphis, who have held the selections right after Phoenix. Of course, Doncic will have the option of continuing to play in Europe after Draft night and not going to the NBA.

Draft night

(Beautiful pictures)

With Phoenix adamantly picking Deandre Ayton with the first overall pick and Doncic reportedly moving away from Atlanta, the Hawks started a conversation with the Mavericks.

What followed was a blockbuster sale that saw Doncic end up in Dallas, with Trae Young heading to Atlanta.

Of course, Ayton will be number 1, with Marvin Bagley II going to Sacramento with pick 2 and Jaren Jackson Jr going to Memphis with pick 4.

“[Dallas] spoke to me,” Doncic told ESPN/ABC on Draft night. They are very good to me. And I’m happy, you know? Just happy to be in the NBA. Just happy to be a part of that. “

Adding to the appeal is the presence of Phoenix head coach Igor Kokoskov, who has a deep understanding of Doncic’s talents as head coach of the Slovenian national team. Kokoskov was fired in April of Ayton’s rookie season. After returning to Europe for a while, he is currently working in Dallas … again working with Doncic.

Why did Phoenix choose Ayton?

While the obvious guardian comparisons between Doncic and Young will be equally frequent, the biggest question remains why the Sun chose a center in an age where the importance of the traditional big man seems to have weakened?

Givony has cashed in on its pre-lottery analysis, reporting that Ayton is becoming a likely top pick.

“After beating most tournaments in recent weeks, there seems to be some consensus forming around that Ayton is the ‘safe pick’ at No. 1,” Givony wrote.

“Which team ultimately gets the obvious pick will play a part, but Ayton’s sheer productivity combined with his uncanny physics tools is making it difficult to keep Luka Doncic at bay. more, especially after a somewhat lackluster month by his standards.”

It shouldn’t be hard for Ayton, who was once a top prospect, but for the Phoenix franchise that has been out of the knockout stages for several years, the idea of ​​making the ‘safe choice’ seems like a no-brainer. Disappointing approach. At the time, the Suns lacked a franchise point guard, with a mix of players from Tyler Johnson, Isaiah Canaan and Elie Okobo starting throughout Ayton’s rookie campaign.

Interestingly, Okobo, who was once considered a potential pick in the first round, was presented with the 31st pick from France. He is no longer in the league.

It is likely the Sun are dodging using another top pick for an international given just two drafts earlier that they used the Croatian talent fourth overall pick, Dragan Bender?

Bender played just 171 games with the franchise over three seasons, averaging 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds.

Talk to Basketball Network, former scout Antonio Williams discussed part of the decision-making process when advancing to Ayton ahead of Doncic or Young.

“With Deandre, one of the things is, you look at the things he does, with his size when you combine sport and dexterity and agility, those are the things he can roll out. Get out of bed and do it,” Williams said.

“Of course, we knew Luka and Trae Young were going to be great, but when we look back at Deandre, there are things where we feel that he could inherently roll out of bed and do what we do. none. our list.”

Early return

(Beautiful pictures)

In many ways, the comparison between Ayton and Doncic is always skewed. Doncic has had the ball in hand from opening night as a possession guard, while Ayton will harden his trade in the fight in the paint, front and roll with Booker.

The young Suns ended rookie Ayton’s campaign with a 19-63 record, though the big man impressed by averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds.

Doncic hit the box office from the first game, finishing the season with 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists on a Dallas team that finished 33-49.

From the very first night, Doncic was clearly a franchise-changing talent, immediately sparking discussion about how he managed to get through the fingers of many franchises. .

The Suns will eventually find their point guard, trading for Chris Paul in a move that sparks a surprising run to the 2021 NBA Finals. Ayton has been at times spectacularly through. ran after the season, creating a 22-point, 19-monster recovery effort in game 1 of the final against Milwaukee.

THAN: Deandre Ayton is a pick and roll nightmare

Ayton’s arrival on the biggest stage is a sign that Phoenix has a really, really good player on the night of the 2018 NBA Draft, leading many to believe he’ll have a major payday.

What’s next?

On the back of that groundbreaking playoff series, Ayton became the next 2018 tier player to earn a big payday.

Doncic signed a 5 years, 207 million dollar super rookie renewal as soon as possible this season.

Young also signed a 5-year extension that could amount to $207 million with an All-NBA renewal within the stipulated time frame.

Jackson Jr has agreed to a four-year, $105 million extension in Memphis.

On the other hand, Ayton was unable to reach an agreement with Phoenix on an extension, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Report that ownership doesn’t believe he’s on the same level as Doncic, Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and other classmates who have received major contracts during the season.

“I mean, obviously we’re disappointed we haven’t been able to reach an agreement to renew this season,” said Suns General Manager James Jones. to Sam Amick of The Athletic. “Deandre is very important to us. He means a lot to us and is very important in what we did and what we did last season.”

THAN: Why Deandre Ayton, Suns fail to reach agreement on maximum contract extension

Last month, the team signed a 4-year, $90 million contract with the versatile wing Mikal Bridges. Bridges joins Devin Booker as a core piece pegged to the future, with Paul also signing a four-year, up to $120 million deal in August.

Whether it’s the Suns trio of Paul, Booker, and Bridges, or the 2018 draft class of Doncic, Young, and Gilgeous-Alexander, this collection of prime-time payday talent has something in common.

They are not a hub.

Ayton will now have the chance to sign an offer with a rival team next season as a restricted free agent.

The failure to lock down the Ayton led many Suns fans to blame owner Robert Sarver, with the Suns being the non-luxury tax team since 2010. Reaching the Finals, is likely to strain relations with the pick. choose your number 1 for three years. before that was certainly a curious decision.

The 23-year-old has had a disrupted start due to injury until 2021-22, appearing in just six games while battling a foot injury. A double consecutive player throughout his career, Ayton is averaging 14.2 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game so far.

Ayton is sure to be one of the focal points of the free agency era in 2022, with a rising powerhouse’s relationship with the franchise seemingly being tested through contract negotiations. failed last summer.

Now let’s wait for the next chapter of Late Night Tales 2018 to open.

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