With the Finals of the NBA 2017/18 closing in, the talks around NBA Draft have begun. It’s an event NBA fans are excited about, and why wouldn’t they be? With new talents from all around the world, it’s always exciting to see who will join his new team and lead them to glory.
As every year, the question is, who will be “crowned” the no.1 pick of this year. With many talented players who have declared they will attend the draft, there are 2 players everyone is talking about. DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic. I don’t see the draft going any other way that these 2 players being picked 1st and 2nd. The only question is, who will be picked by Phoenix Suns and who will be left for Sacramento Kings to take.
For the first time in history, Phoenix Suns have the No.1 pick in the Draft, but they are in front of a difficult decision; Luka Doncic or DeAndre Ayton. Should they pick the international star, Luka Doncic, who has made his name in European as well as International basketball or DeAndre Ayton, the local, talented big man who has played college basketball in Arizona? It all becomes much more complicated when we take into consideration Kokoskov is the new head coach of Phoenix Suns. He led Slovenian national team to the Eurobasket title where he worked with Luka Doncic, who he said will become an NBA star and to be fair, he is on a good way to do so. On the other hand, DeAndre Ayton is a local star and who played for Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, before going to play college basketball in Arizona for 1 year.
Now let’s take a closer look at these 2 players and who we think will end up as a 1st pick.
LUKA DONCIC (2.03m 103kg/ 6’8”, 228 lbs)
Luka Doncic is widely known as one of (if not the) best young players in Europe as of now. His performances in Eurobasket 2017 as well as in Real Madrid are astonishing. With only 19 years he already won numerous individual awards; Euroleague MVP, Euroleague final 4 MVP…as well as 2x Liga ACB, 2x Copa Del Rey, FIBA Intercontinental Cup and Eurobasket 2017 title. There is no denying he deserves all the attention he is getting (at least in Europe) and we can be sure that will continue in the NBA. In 59 games this season for Real Madrid, Doncic averaged 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists.
Ryan Donough, when asked about Luka Doncic said that he hasn’t seen such a productive European yet and marked his performances for Real Madrid and Slovenia as something unseen in the last few decades. In addition, as said before, Kokoskov, the head coach of Phoenix Suns has strong connections with Luka Doncic as seen in Eurobasket where he coached him, and would probably be satisfied if Doncic ends up in Phoenix. The Phoenix Suns are not the only team who wants Luka Doncic in their squad. Many NBA teams (Miami, San Antonio, Dallas, Cleveland, Toronto, Oklahoma, Washington…) have been looking at how Luka Doncic is playing for Real Madrid. There have been even talks about Phoenix Suns trading their no.1 pick with San Antonio, just so they could bring Luka Doncic to replace Leonard Kawhi. However, I don’t see it happening.
DEANDRE AYTON (2.16m, 113kg/ 7’1” 250lb)
Without a doubt a highly talented and athletic individual who excels in the offence, although he should improve slightly in defence, especially with using his height and increase his number for blocked shots. This 19-year-old Center has played for Arizona Wildcats in the 2017-2018 season where he averaged 20.1 points, 1.6 assists 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. His statistics are exceptional, but as said before he should block more shots, especially with his height. To be fair that is the only “concern” about this player and his defensive work should improve once he steps in the NBA, where he will be coached by one of the best people for this job. I see him having a good rookie year in whichever team he will end up, either Suns or Kings, as any team will be happy to have him, that is especially true for Suns as he is considered a fan favorite, which is reasonable, because, at the end of the day, he is a local player.
So who will Phoenix Suns end up picking?
Suns need both a strong center as well as a playmaker, so roles these two candidates play, won’t have such a big effect on the final decision. There is no denying both players are exceptionally talented and it’s hard to say who is better. On one hand, we have DeAndre Ayton who has played and dominated college basketball in his last year and on the other side we have Luka Doncic who has proven his worth in International competition as well as in the 2nd strongest basketball league in the world.
If we look at it from the fans perspective, Ayton has an advantage over Doncic, simply because he is a fan favourite. He has spent his college year at Arizona and fans have been following him on TV, read about him in news etc. On the other hand, most of Phoenix Suns don’t know Doncic, or at least they don’t know him as well as they do DeAndre Ayton. Taking that into consideration, they will want to see him remaining in the state for his pro career.
In addition to that, Luka Doncic said he hasn’t made the final decision about continuing his career in Real Madrid for 1 more year or going to the NBA. So regarding that, it’s still unsure will he even appear in the Draft. This surely won’t help his “value” as a 1st pick and it makes Dayton a much safer pick.
Prediction: No.1 pick in the NBA Draft 2018; DeAndre Ayton
Odds: 1.61 Bovada