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Sporting News’ Deveney believes Suns would pick Doncic over Ayton

(AP photos)

Judging by the grand majority of NBA mock drafts created by those most well-connected in the basketball world, no player other than Slovenian teen Luka Doncic or Arizona Wildcats center Deandre Ayton will go first overall in the upcoming draft.

That could obviously change in the next month before the draft.

But as it stands the day of NBA Draft Lottery, when 14 non-playoff teams will learn where they select in the first round, it’s heavily a debate about Doncic versus Ayton.

While opinions may vary, one scout lent Sporting News’ Sean Deveney insight.

Using the scout’s help, Deveney considered four top prospects — Doncic, Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Michael Porter Jr. — and which of them would be picked if each team had the No. 1 overall selection.

He believes the Suns would go with Doncic — with a small caveat.

There will be pressure to keep Ayton in Arizona, but if the Suns think Doncic can play point, he’s their guy.

Deveney believes the Grizzlies, Hawks, Cavaliers, Kings, Magic and Pistons would also select Doncic over Ayton.

The scout said Doncic’s upside and talent level as-is helps his stock compared to Ayton, whose defensive awareness remains a concern.

“(Doncic) probably has the most potential to be a star-type player in this draft. What he can do at his size (6-8) as far as handling the ball and running an offense, at his age, he is going to be able to come in and have an impact right away. It’s just a matter of how much he can develop from there.”

Deveney believes the Mavericks, Bulls, Hornets, Knicks and Clippers would elect to pick Ayton if they had the top selection, and that’s because, while the anonymous scout believes the concerns about Ayton are well-founded, perhaps they’re just overblown.

“All the knocks on him are things that can be fixed. He is not a bad shooter, I think he can stretch out to the 3-point line. I don’t think he is a bad one-on-one defender, the way some people do. I think he just does not have a handle on when to help, when to go block a shot and when to stay home. He can learn that.”

Deveney could see only the 76ers or Nuggets getting away from Doncic or Ayton to select power forward Michael Porter Jr.

Philadelphia’s two best players, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, mirror the playmaking wing Doncic and stretch center Ayton. Denver already has playmaking center Nikola Jokic and enough shooting on the perimeter to look at a power forward of the future.

Jackson could be the wild card, Deveney writes, but he doesn’t see any team choosing the low-floor, high-ceiling prospect over the other options on the board — at least not yet.

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