Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton poses for a portrait before the NBA basketball draft lottery on Tuesday in Chicago.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
By RENALDO DORSETT
We can speculate on a possible destination for Deandre Ayton when the NBA Draft takes place next month.
The league hosted its Draft Lottery Tuesday night in Chicago, Illinois, where the order of selection was decided for all 15 lottery teams.
The NBA Draft takes places June 21 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Ayton is considered a consensus top overall pick by every reputable scouting service in the projection business.
The Phoenix Suns landed the number one pick and came into the lottery with the best percentage of doing so at 25 per cent.
Ayton finished his school years at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix and went on to attend the University of Arizona for a single season. The opportunity to begin his professional career in the state led many pundits to believe the Suns will take advantage and select Ayton.
In an interview with ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth, Ayton discussed the rise in international acclaim for Bahamian basketball in recent years with the popularity of himself and Buddy Hield.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a movement starting but we’re just letting everyone know that we’re representing the 242, which is the Bahamas and we’re coming,” he said.
“Not trying to say that basketball is really trending in the Bahamas but we just want more opportunities to be made and to come to the Bahamas. We want more opportunities to be open and we want to give kids more opportunities so they don’t have to go outside of the country to help be what they want to be. We just want to be able to help give back.”
The second overall pick went to the Sacramento Kings, who had just a 5.3 per cent chance of landing the top overall pick.
The Suns hired Igor Kokoskov as its head coach in the offseason, leading the speculation that the team could select 19-year old Slovenian wing Luka Doncic with the top overall pick.
Kokoskov coached Doncic to a Eurobasket title with the Slovenian national team last summer. If the Suns draft Doncic, it would allow the possibility of the Kings to select Ayton at No.2 and pair him alongside Hield for the foreseeable future.
Atlanta Hawks were awarded the 3rd pick, the Grizzlies have No.4 and the Mavericks were awarded the 5th pick. The Magic, Bulls, Cavaliers, Knicks, 76ers, Hornets, Clippers and Nuggets complete the list of lottery teams in descending order.
Ayton declined an invitation to participate in the combine this week in Chicago.
During his lone season at Arizona, he averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game while shooting 61.6 per cent from the field, and was “Karl Malone Power Forward” of the year and Associated Press First Team All-American.
He was also the First Team All-American from the NABC, USBWA and Sporting News, Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the conference tournament in the same season.