Not no. 1 deandre ayton and the versatility of modern nba centers data recovery on mac

It’s hilariously simple with Ayton as a No. 1 prospect. He is the best athletic specimen the draft has had this decade. He can physically dominate games and overwhelm NBA centers. Monster rebounder. Fast for his size. Skilled scorer around the basket. Can stretch the floor. Great hands. Great passer. Will not fail to be great in the NBA.

Some will call this “overthinking” but these are the same little flaws we’ve been writing about since November and watching for since he came to Tucson. If you want to turn down that notion, DraftExpress’ preseason scouting video of Ayton from November covers a lot of what we will be discussing today.

The other gaps are where I’m concerned. What he showed facing up and attacking the basket or scoring in other ways was concerning. I’m far from saying he doesn’t have the potential to do this, and the situation on the floor at Arizona certainly didn’t help, but he would constantly rush things.

This is where the Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins and Joel Embiid comparisons just offensively fail and make you shiver. Ayton is not fluid as a scorer despite being an extremely fluid athlete. He’s stiff with his dribbles and shows little to no feel for scoring creatively. In today’s NBA, that is important given Ayton’s other shortcomings we will get to.

To be fair, the flashes are there for him to at least occasionally change up his scoring game. Once again, that’s more of the basic stuff I outlined earlier about his scoring package, but some of these moves are impressive like this absolutely terrifying score on UNLV that is two points before you can blink.

Three narratives we can focus on here is that Ayton was double-teamed all the time, and has an outstanding post game that comes with even better touch. All of those aren’t 100 percent true. His shot selection was rather simple, he had his fair share of possessions against single coverage and the touch on his jump hook still needs work. That’s important given the aforementioned lack of variety in his post game.

Per The Stepien’s shot charts, Ayton shot an alarming 35.9 percent in the short midrange area, which is where he’s taking more of those looks out of the post and facing up. That’s in the 28th percentile amongst bigs in the database, a poor number.

For the sake of time and a comprehensive argument regarding his offense further out, I urge you to read The Stepien’s JZ Mazlish and his film breakdown on Ayton’s face-up game that is loaded with worrisome visual evidence to balance out any over-the-charts optimism you might have about him off the dribble.

If you don’t believe me, watch the way he set screens or boxed out. He’s the worst screen-setter of the lottery-projected bigs by a mile and he rarely boxes out on the glass. He didn’t need to do this in college and he absolutely must in the NBA.

Back then, already telling us he was 6-foot-10 (but hoped he’d grow to 7-foot-4), Ayton described his position as “center,” though that would be one of the last instances in which he would willingly portray himself as such. Later in his high school career, he became infatuated with the idea of being a power forward, which has continued to this day, despite the fact that modern basketball has gone in the opposite direction. The fact that he’s listed as a “forward” by Arizona and is starting and playing heavy minutes alongside another 7-footer, Dusan Ristic, is not an accident. It’s entirely by his own design.

The worry for a guy of Ayton’s size potentially not wanting to be a center does not need to be expounded upon any further. Do me a favor and go watch that video on his post touch misses again for the first one against UNLV. Why is he pivoting out for a hook shot instead of bumping into the defender to draw an easy foul right under the rim? It’s the same thing he did in the UMBC play.

He’s trying, but the instincts are non-existent. Buffalo flat-out attacked him in that game and forced him to prove he can make the right defensive decisions nine times out of 10 like you have to in the NBA. He was struggling, to say the least, a struggle The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks expanded on here.

If Ayton’s offense is rim runs, post touches within 10-15 feet on basic moves and jumpers, there’s doubt to his versatility as a high-level scorer. Even with his tremendous passing feel out of the post and great finishing at the rim, he is limited right now on offense compared to what today’s great NBA bigs are doing.

If Ayton’s defense amounts to him becoming a very good rebounder and on-ball defender who can’t consistently make the right reads as an off-ball defender and can’t be a viable rim protector, he is a limited defender right now compared to what today’s great NBA bigs are doing as well.

To go back to the Buffalo game, that’s a microcosm for the entire debate surrounding Ayton. Going into that game, the question was how a team like Buffalo with no size stops Ayton — the answer was they relentlessly attacked him on defense to cancel out any positives Ayton had because of his overwhelming size.

Watching the NBA Playoffs, especially, and I know for a fact that version of Ayton wouldn’t be able to survive. Hassan Whiteside, who is similar to Ayton in that he’s great in certain areas but limited in others, was virtually unplayable for the Miami Heat against the Philadelphia 76ers.

For those who disagree on Ayton’s offense and how it compares to the top bigs we’ve seen in the playoffs, The Stepien’s Cole Zwicker did an outstanding deep look at the offense of playoff bigs in relation to this draft’s top bigs and will have more coming on defense that you should really consider reading if you think Ayton is a no-brainer at No. 1.

You can also be great like Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert or Karl-Anthony Towns by being exceptional in a few facets of the game, but even in the most competitive NBA space, Gobert and Towns were both unplayable at times against a team like the Houston Rockets.