One lucky NBA team will have the opportunity to draft Deandre Ayton this June, and Tuesday we get a better idea of where he will be heading.
That’s when the NBA Draft Lottery will take place in Chicago, which will set the order for the 2018 NBA Draft.
All non-playoff teams have a shot at obtaining the No. 1 pick — which is where Ayton is widely projected to be selected — and here are five intriguing destinations for him if you’re an Arizona Wildcats fan.
Ayton has already said he can envision himself playing for the Suns, deeming him and Devin Booker as “Shaq and Kobe 2.0.”
While that pairing would be tantalizing, Phoenix is also a great option for Ayton because that’s where he went to high school, that’s where his mother lives, and it’s only a short drive up I-10 from the University of Arizona.
So the same Wildcat fans who cheered him on in McKale Center will still be able to watch him at the next stage of his career without much of a hassle.
And the Suns don’t really have a center of the future on their roster, so Ayton can become the face of Phoenix’s frontcourt from day one.
The Suns have the best odds of winning the draft lottery (25%).
How does a Lauri Markkanen-Deandre Ayton frontcourt sound? Pretty dang good. We were one year away from seeing that in Tucson, but it could become a reality in Chicago.
Markkanen’s perimeter game along with Ayton’s size, skill, and athleticism could be a devastating combination for the rest of the NBA for years to come.
The Bulls have the sixth-best odds of winning the draft lottery (5.3%).
The Knicks are not good at basketball, and haven’t been for a while, which means Ayton can become a legend in the Big Apple by turning that franchise around.
Ayton and Kristaps Porzingis would form one of the most high-powered frontcourts in the game.
Sure, Ayton would be under incredible pressure to perform in New York, but he thrives in those circumstances.
Remember his 28-point, 18-rebound outing at Oregon after the ESPN wiretap report broke? Yeah, that didn’t faze him one bit.
The Knicks have the ninth-best chance of winning the draft lottery (1.7%).
T.J. McConnell is on the Sixers, so you get where I’m going with this.
But admittedly I would also be interested to see how an Ayton-Joel Embiid frontcourt would work. Both are athletic and skilled giants, but small-ball is king in the modern NBA, so it could make for an odd pairing. (Or it could be a complete mismatch.)
And adding someone like Ayton would only be a plus for a Sixers team that is already one of the best in the league — and getting better quickly.
The Sixers (via the Lakers) have the 10th-best chance of winning the draft lottery (1.1%).
Aaron Gordon took a major step forward this season, averaging career-highs in points (17.6), rebounds (7.9), assists (2.3), steals (1.0), and 3-point percentage (33.6).
The former Wildcat is at his best when he plays the 4, and would do well alongside an offensively talented big man like Ayton. Plus, it would be cool to see two Wildcats manning the same frontcourt.
But there’s no guarantee Gordon will be with the Magic next season, as he’s set to hit restricted free agency this offseason and will reportedly seek a max contract. The Magic may not be willing to pay up.
The Magic also don’t have a great track record in player development. They have won 35 games or fewer every year since 2011-12 and have seen their win total decrease in three straight seasons.
Gordon is the only high pick the Magic have made recently that has panned out for them, and it’s worth noting how much better Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton got once Orlando traded them away.
So, for Ayton’s sake, the Magic might not be the best landing spot. Really, the only appeal here is him and Gordon getting to star together.
The Magic have the fifth-best chance of winning the draft lottery (8.8%).
No. 1 pick probabilities by team (only lottery teams apply)
- Suns (25%)
- Grizzlies (19.9%)
- Mavericks (13.8%)
- Hawks (13.7%)
- Magic (8.8%)
- Bulls (5.3%)
- Kings (5.3%)
- Cavaliers via Nets (2.8%)
- Knicks (1.7%)
- Sixers via Lakers (1.1%)
- Hornets (0.8%)
- Clippers via Pistons (0.7%)
- Clippers (0.6%)
- Nuggets (0.5%)
Draft lottery viewing info
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Chicago, IL, Palmer House Hilton
TV info: ESPN
Live stream: WatchESPN