Where does Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton rank among the NBA’s elite centers?

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns’ big man Deandre Ayton has made incremental improvements across his four-year NBA career, now considered a max level player after re-signing with the franchise on a four-year, $133 million contract.

The 24-year-old still has plenty of improvement to fulfill after being taken with the number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

The Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton will be aiming to join elite company and become a consensus top five NBA center by the end of his current contract.

Ahead of his fourth NBA season, an article by Scott Rafferty of The Sporting News had Ayton ranked as the seventh best center in the league. He was listed behind Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Bam Adebayo and Nikola Vucevic.

"“Ayton hasn’t reached the same heights as Trae Young and Luka Doncic since being drafted No. 1 in the 2018 NBA Draft, but he put his potential on full display in Phoenix’s run to the NBA Finals last season. He remade himself on the biggest stage, filling in the gaps with his rim-running and cutting while anchoring what turned out to be the third-best defense in the postseason.– Scott Rafferty (The Sporting News)"

Ayton’s 2021-22 season saw him average 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds on a career-high 63.4% from the floor. In a recent piece by HoopsHype ranking NBA centers by trade value, Ayton surpassed Vucevic into sixth place.

While it would be difficult to envisage him ever reaching the level of Jokic and Embiid, there’s no reason why Ayton couldn’t climb the ranks to sit just below those two MVP calibre players.

Although he may not have the offensive skill set of those two, nor the defensive presence of Rudy Gobert, Ayton’s all-around game makes him an incredibly valuable player in today’s league. The Bahamian ranked fourth for all centers in plus-minus during the regular season at +5.9.

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Ayton’s improvement will be crucial to the Suns’ future success, with he and the franchise hoping he continues the development and promise of a number one overall pick.