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ESPN panel: Suns should draft Ayton No. 1

A recent NBA mock draft panel on ESPN believes the Suns should select Arizona’s Deandre Ayton with the first pick of the June 21 NBA Draft.

“This is crucial for this organization. They have not drafted well in the top part of the draft,” said ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski. “Ayton’s I think a clear-cut number one I think for almost any team who’d be at the top.”

Ayton’s one season at Arizona was a rousing success for the 7-foot, 250 pound big man. Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game while shooting 61.2 percent from the field.

“In terms of his upside I think he’s the best prospect in this draft. I do have some questions about defensively how he’s going to be,” said ESPN NBA Draft analyst Mike Schmitz.

Defense was a knock on Ayton coming out of school, as he only averaged 1.9 blocks per game. Ayton, however, spent most of his time at UA playing the four as Arizona played fellow 7-footer Dusan Ristic at the five.

Ayton’s physical tools are off the charts, but there are some question marks on how he fits into the modern NBA.

Schmitz believes Ayton has strong potential, but he does wonder how his game translates to an NBA where more undersized players are playing the five.

“The big question coming into the season was would he play hard, that was kind of the knock on him growing up,” said ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg. “I thought Sean Miller got a lot out of him. He can run the floor, and I think that he’s a little better defender than he has showed to this point just because of his athleticism.”

The Suns hold the first pick in the draft for the first time in franchise history. While they have explicitly stated they have not made up their mind on who to select, many believe it’s between Ayton and Slovenian guard Luka Doncic.