We’ve returned to Ayton as a discussion point, and that is because he is not a part of the starting group in this scenario. If that sounds outrageous, remember he can still close games. But the duo of Eric Gordon and Yuta Watanabe alongside the established three players is an intriguing one.
There is no doubt this five will get minutes together during the season, but could they actually start games? Gordon has looked fantastic this summer while helping The Bahamas get closer than they ever have to qualifying for the Olympics, while Yuta Watanabe has been a star for Japan at the FIBA World Cup.
Gordon may be 34-years-old, but he is as experienced on the defensive end as they come. In fact Bates-Diop, and also rookie Toumani Camara, could learn a lot from watching Gordon with this group. Watanabe is underrated defensively because of his size, and both are above average 3-point shooters.
This is a fun group, with the only downside being how much Durant would get pummelled inside the paint on the defensive end. Offensively however, there looks to be a super blend of shooting, size, handling and athleticism. The potential to lead the league in offensive rating is definitely there.
This would also allow Ayton to feast on second units for larger stretches of games, and to really get his mojo back in the process. Of course he may feel put out coming off the bench, but perhaps that is also the fire that coach Vogel needs to light underneath of him to truly get the best out of the big man. Keep an eye on this group — there’s a lot to like about it.