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DeAndre Ayton channels the spirits of the NBA true centers who came before him

Ayton has size, moves, and great shooting touch.

True centers are a rarity in the modern NBA, but 7’1 DeAndre Ayton might wind up being a very, very, very big exception to that rule. That’s the Phoenix Suns’ hope, at least, as they reportedly will selected him ahead of Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley III with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

He’s got moves that may remind you of ‘90s greats like David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing. Ayton’s also got solid shooting range and the ability to create offense without having the ball in his hands. Plus, he’s a 73 percent free-throw shooter, so you can’t just hack away at him.

Once Arizona suffered an early exit from this year’s NCAA tournament, Ayton quickly declared for this year’s NBA Draft. The only remaining question — will he live up to the No. 1 overall pick?

More SB Nation coverage of DeAndre Ayton:

How DeAndre Ayton’s defense could turn from a weakness to a strength

By Matt Ellentuck, June 13, 2018

Before anyone can evaluate how Ayton defended at the college level, it’s important to understand that he wasn’t put in the best position to succeed. Similar to Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson, Jr., another high-lottery pick-to be under Tom Izzo, Ayton had to sacrifice his ideal fit at the 5 for the better of his Wildcats team.

That meant playing a power forward position that required never-been-flexed muscles and a different outlook of the game from a defensive perspective. He also dealt with eligibility allegations and the temporary suspensions of his head coach, Sean Miller, and co-star Allonzo Trier.

Nothing was ideal about Ayton’s only college season.

Sense of closure surrounds DeAndre Ayton’s predraft workout

By Evan Sidery, Bright Side of the Sun, June 7, 2018

The Suns’ scripted workout for Ayton showed off his tremendous versatility and ability to switch-and-slide with great foot speed to cover switches all over the floor. Also, with a reported 42-inch vertical on top of his massive frame, McDonough mentioned there were plenty of finishing opportunities above the rim via lobs as well.

For going against just air, it seemed like the workout went perfectly to plan for both Ayton and the Suns.

“Not in a bad way,” McDonough said of anything new in workout saw. “I think the way he shot the ball was pretty impressive. There aren’t that many guys at 7’1 with his length and strength who can step away from the basket and make shots. He did it some at Arizona, but that wasn’t his role, we didn’t get to see him on the perimeter a whole lot. Today, he shot the NBA three pretty comfortably. He got some shots up last night, so we saw him shoot there. He has a really good form, good touch, good rotation on the ball for a guy that size especially. That was a little bit unique. I mean we knew he was big and strong and athletic and moved well at that size, had good length, great hands but to see him make shot after shot in a workout — in different scenarios, it wasn’t just catch-and-shoot shooting. We put him in pick-and-roll scenarios. We would have him on the move some. Some relocation off pick-and-roll, things like that. And he shot the ball very well.”