Phoenix Suns: How Deandre Ayton compares to NBA greats through 100 games

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Being the first No. 1 draft pick in Phoenix Suns franchise history, Deandre Ayton faces a lot of pressure to become an NBA superstar. Fair or not, the one word to describe his brief NBA career thus far has been polarizing.

You could poll 10 Phoenix Suns fans about their thoughts on Deandre Ayton and you would likely get some mixture of “He is a budding superstar!”, “He is a good NBA player but lacks the aggressiveness to ever be great,” or “He’s a bum. We should have drafted Luka.”

Some may point to his recent tear and his clear increase in production in year two as indication of his status as a future all-NBA performer. Others may point to his recurring ankle issues and say that he is Greg Oden or Sam Bowie 2.0 (he is not).

Still others may point to his 25-game wellness policy violation this season and say that he is a locker room cancer. However, from what you can see and gather watching him on a daily basis and how he carries himself and interacts with his teammates, it is pretty easy to debunk that. He may possess a little immaturity, but that is more the rule than the exception at the age of 21 for about 99 percent of the population.

Many have the tendency to look at Luka Doncic’s gaudy numbers and team success this season along with Trae Young’s gaudy numbers (very little success) and come to the conclusion that Ayton must be a bust for not breaking out to that level at this point. Questioning the selection is fair, but devaluing Ayton based solely on the success of others in his draft class is not.

That is a fool’s game and logical fallacy. Comparing Ayton (while somewhat unavoidable being in the same draft class) to ball dominant guards with high usage rates playing in completely different systems is not an accurate measure of Ayton’s development and projection for future growth.

It’s like comparing a pass rusher taken with the first few picks in the NFL Draft with a quarterback who was taken in the top half of the first round.

Does anybody compare Myles Garrett and Patrick Mahomes? Because Patrick Mahomes has had the best first two seasons in NFL history for a quarterback in a system that suits him perfectly, does anybody then assume that the No.1 pick in his draft class, Myles Garrett, must be a bust as a result? No. That would be ludicrous and the same principle applies when comparing a center with what is essentially two point guards in Doncic and Young.

The better way to analyze Ayton is to see how he stacks up in the early stages of his career with some of the All-time great NBA centers over the past 30+ years.