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‘Don’t get cute’: ESPN’s Marks says Suns’ decision on Ayton is clear-cut

Playing the odds worked out for the Phoenix Suns.

Their league-worst NBA record in 2017-18 led them to winning the NBA Draft Lottery, but the luck also extended to their particular draft class at this particular point in time for the team.

Tyson Chandler is the only returning center on a guaranteed deal for next season, and so it’s fitting that the player most believe is the best talent in the 2018 draft class will fit Phoenix’s roster perfectly.

“Rarely do you get the best-available and do you fit a need,” ESPN’s Bobby Marks told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

The Suns will work out Ayton solo at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday in preparation for the draft. Marks, a former New Jersey Nets front office executive, said that the visit will help familiarize Ayton with first-year Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov and the staff.

It’ll also allow the team to see where Ayton is from a conditioning standpoint. Other than that, Phoenix won’t gain much.

Most of the team’s evaluation of Ayton is already done. The Suns watched his Arizona Wildcats more than most teams thanks to the close proximity to Tucson, and Ayton’s 20.1 point, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in his freshman season sums up the bright spots of his resume.

Ayton, who grew up in the Bahamas but went to high school in Phoenix, has spent a lot of time in Arizona since leaving college.

Sports Illustrated’s mini-documentary of his post-college, pre-draft life showed him cruising around the streets of Scottsdale. And when his former Arizona teammates Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier worked out for the Suns last week, each mentioned Ayton’s desire to attend their workout. He simply couldn’t due to the NBA’s rules limiting players to two visits with a team leading into the draft.

From the standpoint of Ayton’s background, he’s the perfect fit for the Suns.

That’s without considering the basketball side of things.

“I just like Ayton based on his ability to play inside-outside, his length, his upside, the ability to (be a) shotblocker at the rim there,” Marks said Wednesday. “So far off the court, everything checks. There’s no issues there. There’s not a headache from a medical standpoint. Everything is in line here.

“And then the upside factor. I know we’re in a league right now where we look in the finals and we’ve got guys out there who are, I guess we say positionless. And you probably say, ‘What’s the role for a center? Shouldn’t we look at Luka Doncic maybe, more of a wing or a guard here?’ and I say, ‘Don’t get cute with the draft.’ Eventually, this cycle is going to end and we’re probably going to get back in the day and age where bigs are dominant again.”

So, is Ayton a generational talent?

Marks might disagree with ESPN colleague Amin Elhassan, a former Suns front office staffer who said he might lean more toward Doncic in this draft class.

“Yes, he is (a generational talent),” Marks told Doug & Wolf. “I think there’s enough separation between him, Doncic, (Marvin) Bagley and (Jaren) Jackson (and) Wendell Carter there that would make him the No. 1 pick.”

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