Former Suns’ scout explains why the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton ahead of Luka Doncic and Trae Young
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Former Suns’ scout explains why the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton ahead of Luka Doncic and Trae Young

The 2018 NBA Draft is already proving to have some of the best young prospects in the league today, as the likes of Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Deandre Ayton, and more are already very established players. But that hasn’t stopped the questions of who should have gone first and which team messed up by passing on certain guys. 

The Phoenix Suns have been in the center of those discussions, as a lot of people criticized them for taking Deandre Ayton with the #1 pick instead of Luka or Trae. It was questionable on the Draft night, especially now when Luka has become a top-5 player in the NBA and Trae is one of the best shooters in the league.

We spoke with former NBA and Suns scout Antonio Williams on our podcast “1-ON-1 with Basketball Network”. Williams talked about various topics from inside NBA information, Draft preparations, his predictions for the NBA season, and many more interesting topics. Regarding the 2018 Draft, we talked to Antonio about why Ayton was their number one choice and why they passed up on Luka and Trae, as he told us:

“With Deandre, one of the things was, you look at the things that he does…at his size when you combine the athleticism and the dexterity and the agility there are just things he can just roll out of bed and do. Of course, we knew Luka and Trae Young were going to be great, but when we’re looking at Deandre again, there are just things that we felt he inherently can just roll out of bed and do that we didn’t have on our roster.”

Antonio Williams, via 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network

He continued to explain how that decision was impacted by many other factors, firstly deciding if the team is drafting the best available player or the best fit for your current unit. Only a handful of players were no-brainer number one picks no matter who you already have on the team, and I feel like Luka should have been one of those guys.

Antonio also shared how Doncic not coming to workout for them was also a major factor because many owners want to meet and see the players getting drafted, which definitely played a huge role. To be fair, Luka was busy winning the ACB championship at the time teams were having pre-draft workouts, so you can’t really blame him, but I guess the Suns didn’t care. A lot of teams had their doubts because of Luka coming from Europe. If they had a bit more respect for Euroleague basketball, Luka would have been the consensus #1 pick. Mark Cuban saw that, as he already struck gold with Dirk back in the day. So the Suns aren’t the only team that messed up on that decision.

When you round it all up and summarize, you see Deandre Ayton is a great young player with a lot of promise. He is averaging 14.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, thriving with Chris Paul on a team that has surpassed everybody’s expectations. Ayton has the potential of being one the best big man in the NBA for a long time. But that doesn’t diminish that, in my opinion, both Luka Doncic and Trae Young are going to have better individual careers than Ayton. 

If the Suns prove to be the better team than the Mavs or the Hawks in the up-and-coming decade, then they didn’t make a mistake, as they catered to their team needs. But there is a high probability Luka, and Trae rule the league for the foreseeable future, and Deandre gets left in the background, as then you could say the Suns made a mistake.