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 Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the first half of the NBA game against ...
Kellan Olson

Suns can tighten up during lengthy homestand after challenging open to season

The Phoenix Suns get an extended break at home after starting the season with three games in four days and a road back-to-back.
22 hours ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, is defended by Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covingto...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get pounced on by Blazers in blowout loss

The Suns looked like they were back on the right track after beating the Lakers but they lost that against the Blazers the next night.
3 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) passes as Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (27) pur...
Arizona Sports

Suns G Cameron Payne out Saturday against Trail Blazers

Phoenix Suns backup point guard Cameron Payne will miss Saturday night's game against the Portland Trailer Blazers.
3 days ago
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, right, scores over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis duri...
Associated Press

Lakers’ Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis play down sideline incident

Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis say their confrontation on the Lakers' bench was a momentary disagreement that has already been resolved.
3 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) argues a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game aga...
Kellan Olson

Chris Paul provides ‘jumpstart’ to Suns in bounce-back win over Lakers

Nothing like a little get right game, and that's what the Phoenix Suns got on Friday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
4 days ago
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the second half of the NBA game at Footpr...
Arizona Sports

Chris Paul becomes 1st player with 20,000 points, 10,000 assists in NBA history

Another accolade for Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul, one of the greatest to ever do it at any position.
4 days ago
ESPN’s Van Gundy: Big men still belong in NBA, Ayton has useful traits