Is DeAndre Ayton the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft?

LAS VEGAS -- In the opening round of the Tarkanian Classic, DeAndre Ayton scored 28 points on 11-for-16 shooting, while also reeling in 14 rebounds and swatting two shots. How did his performance stack up? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Scout breaks it down.


It all starts with DeAndre Ayton's impressive physique and physical attributes. Standing 7-feet tall, Ayton has tremendous size for the center position. But it’s not just his height that stands out, he looks physically bigger than in the summer. He has powerful frame with wide, strong shoulders, plus a wingspan that is likely longer than the 7’4.5 measurement from the LeBron James Skills Academy back in 2014. Ayton also has very good mobility and athleticism.

On Wednesday at the Tarkanian Classic, Ayton showed ability on the offensive end. He has very good touch, both around the basket and on his jump shots. He connected on two of his six three-point attempts against Reno Prep, while also knocking down a 15-foot jumper. His shot mechanics and form are good and his ability to shoot is becoming a strength. Ayton only posted up on the block a couple of times and each post up led to a basket. He also had a face up drive from the elbow and backed down a defender from 12-feet, finishing through him. Ayton is a good finisher around the goal that certainly doesn’t mind a little contact. Of his nine field goal attempts in the paint, Ayton missed just one.


I think one of the biggest things that stood out to me about Ayton on Wednesday was how easy things came to him. And as impressed as I came away from the game, he could have easily expanded his 28-point, 14-rebound effort to 40 points and 25 rebounds by simply playing a little harder. I think a consistent motor is an area that he’ll need to improve. It reminds me a little of Andre Drummond in high school. Drummond was always physically dominant and much bigger than just about everyone he faced in high school, but the biggest question with him at that same stage was his motor. I actually think Ayton plays harder than Drummond did back then, but he could still bring it more every play. Ayton finished with just two blocks in this outing and didn’t do a great job of contesting shots or putting pressure on opposing players that drove the lane. With Ayton’s instincts, length and athleticism, he should be the best shot blocker in high school basketball.

One of the strengths I mentioned for Ayton was his shooting. While his ability to make jump shots certainly improves his status as a prospect, he seemed to fall in love with shooting jumpers. Ayton took six three-pointers in the contest, four of which were probably decent looks. In the first half, Ayton was more perimeter oriented and floated a little bit, he spruced that up a tad in the second half and was aggressive around the basket. The bottom line is when Ayton’s mentality is to be dominant in the paint, he usually is.


When I walked away from watching Ayton, I couldn’t help but be taken back about how good of a long-term prospect he is. In fact, he’s likely the best post prospect I’ve evaluated since Anthony Davis. Andre Drummond would certainly be in the conversation as well. In February, when Scout unveiled the latest edition of the Ultimate Top 100, which ranks the best prospects regardless of class, Ayton was rated No. 1. After watching him, I still think that’s accurate. His combination of elite physical gifts, plus his natural ability on offense and potential as a shot blocker, make him, in my eyes, the odds on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA

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