PHOENIX SUNS

ESPN’s Van Gundy: Big men still belong in NBA, Ayton has useful traits

Jun 11, 2018, 11:00 AM

(AP photo/screenshot)...

(AP photo/screenshot)

(AP photo/screenshot)

With the Suns holding the first selection in this month’s NBA Draft, most experts believe Arizona center Deandre Ayton will be the selection.

Ayton had a tremendous freshman season at Arizona, and standing at 7-foot-1, 250 pounds, he looks like the next great NBA big man.

But, one concern is how the NBA has evolved into a wing players’ league with an emphasis on shooting and switching on defense.

The question remains: Is this a cyclical time-period brought on by the Warriors dynasty? Or, is the future of the NBA no longer big man friendly?

ESPN’s NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy believes that the big man won’t be going away anytime soon, and that there can be a resurgence for more traditional power forwards and centers.

“(Just) because players don’t work at their game inside with their back to the basket, doesn’t mean it’s not effective,” Van Gundy said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf. “Because of the rules, because the NBA doesn’t want back to the basket players they allow more contact against post players than they do against perimeter players.”

Van Gundy believes that Ayton will be the Suns’ pick. He credited Arizona’s head coach Sean Miller for coaching Ayton hard and believes that it’s important for the Suns to get a franchise player with the No. 1 pick.

“The way you get good in this league is you have to pick the right guys. These picks don’t come around, or you don’t want them to come around too often where you have the No. 1 pick,” Van Gundy said. “But when you do get it, it has to be the right guy.”

The biggest pre-draft knock and during Ayton’s time in college was his defense. Van Gundy thinks that Ayton can become a good defender in the NBA based on the skills he already possesses.

“I think the bigger thing is can you defend away from the basket. If you play against a center that is dominant, like a Mo Bamba who is blocking shots around the rim and making life difficult. Everybody’s counter now is to play somebody who can stretch you out,” Van Gundy said. “I think with Ayton, I know he can move his feet well enough where he can do both. He can protect the rim and move away from the basket and guard pick-and-rolls, because that’s imperative in today’s NBA.”

Phoenix Suns

Head coach Frank Vogel of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the second half of game three of the Weste...

David Veenstra

Suns GM James Jones on why Frank Vogel was fired: ‘We needed to improve in a lot of areas’

James Jones explained why the Suns fired Frank Vogel and why they waited so long to hire new head coach Mike Budenholzer.

2 days ago

Bradley Beal #3, Kevin Durant #35 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns watch from the bench duri...

Nick Borgia

James Jones on Suns’ Big 3: ‘Those guys aren’t going anywhere’

The Suns GM told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday that there are no plans of trading Devin Booker, Kevin Durant or Bradley Beal.

2 days ago

Mike Budenholzer and James Jones pose for a picture...

Dan Bickley

Suns’ Mike Budenholzer has a chance to reach new heights in Phoenix

Mike Budenholzer has already notched his first victory as Suns head coach. He dominated a must-win introductory press conference Friday.

2 days ago

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer is introducted on Friday, May 17, 2024....

Kevin Zimmerman

Why Suns coach Mike Budenholzer might do what Frank Vogel couldn’t

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer played to a frustrated fan base. He gave reason to believe why he can do what Frank Vogel didn't.

2 days ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: James Jones on Suns’ Big 3: ‘Those guys aren’t going anywhere’

James Jones joined Burns & Gambo after the Mike Budenholzer press conference to discuss the teams offseason plans.

2 days ago

James Jones and Mat Ishbia look on...

Arizona Sports

Report: Suns ‘closing in on hiring’ Nets executive Matt Tellem to front office role

The Phoenix Suns are reportedly closing in on hiring Brooklyn Nets executive Matt Tellem to a front office role.

2 days ago

ESPN’s Van Gundy: Big men still belong in NBA, Ayton has useful traits