If the Phoenix Suns were looking for a reason not to take Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 pick, they probably didn’t find it Wednesday.
The team put the former Arizona Wildcats big man through a one-hour, 1-on-0 workout, and Suns general manager Ryan McDonough described Ayton’s performance as “phenomenal.”
“It was everything that we expected from Deandre,” he said. “Obviously we’ve watched him closely at Arizona and we’ve scouted him heavily in person at games, in practice, and on film, and he showed us what we expected to see.”
Ayton said the workout was “pretty intense.” Sweat was dripping down his face during his post-practice interview.
McDonough said the Suns tried to put Ayton in as many game situations as possible.
“We saw him finish a lot around the basket and then we put him in mid-range, and then out to the NBA 3 offensively,” McDonough said.
“Defensively, we put him in some different pick-and-roll coverage situations and saw how he guarded the pick-and-roll, how he moved his feet in different ways.
“In terms of finishing, we did a lot of lobs and things above the rim which, as you can imagine, he did really well with that. He’s uniquely gifted with that size and length and athleticism and he’s got great hands.”
McDonough said Ayton’s shooting was particularly impressive. The big man sank jumpers out of pick-and-rolls and on the move.
“There aren’t many 7-1 guys with that length and strength who can step away from the basket and make shots,” McDonough said. “He did it some at Arizona, but that wasn’t his role. You didn’t get to see him on the perimeter a whole lot. So today, he shot the NBA 3 pretty comfortably. He got some shots up last night as well, so we saw him shoot there. He’s got really good form, good touch, good rotation on the ball for someone his size. That was a little bit unique.”
Ayton will spend the rest of Wednesday hanging out with Suns players like Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and Marquese Chriss, who took in Ayton’s workout. They plan to watch Game 3 of the NBA Finals together.
While it remains to be seen how they gel off the court, McDonough thinks Ayton could be the Suns’ missing piece on the court.
“We’ve been looking for a center to kind of anchor our team offensively and defensively,” he said. “We think Deandre has that kind of potential.”
Still, Phoenix plans to work out several more prospects before making a final decision on the No. 1 pick.
As for Ayton, the Suns were his first, and last, workout.
“I know I’m going No. 1,” he said.