Deandre Ayton "knows" he's going to be the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft

Barring a surprising trade, the Phoenix Suns will be calling someone’s name with the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

In the midst of a complete rebuild and with a number of talented young players already on their roster, the franchise cannot afford to make the wrong choice.

On Wednesday, they brought in former University of Arizona standout center Deandre Ayton for a workout.

Ayton, a 7’1”, 250-pound athletic big man from the Bahamas, had a sensational one-and-done campaign at Arizona, averaging 20.1 points on 61.2 percent shooting, including 34.3 percent from three-point range, along with 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 33.5 minutes per contest.

Based on his size, length, athleticism and ability to fit the mold of a new-age NBA center, Ayton is firmly in the mix to become the No. 1 pick. After Wednesday’s workout, he’s convinced that he will be.

“I know I’m going No. 1,” he told reporters, per the Associated Press.

There’s no indication that the Suns told him, but he’s just confident.

“Nobody told me,” he said. “That’s just me. I think I deserve that. I’ve worked hard.’’

It’s worth noting that Ayton attended high school in the Phoenix area and went to the University of Arizona close by in Tucson. Therefore, he has made a name for himself in the area.

“Everybody knows us now,” he noted. “This is our second home, so we just feel welcome, and it would be a blessing if I become the No. 1 pick and stay here and make this home.’’

Echoing his previous comments, Ayton claimed that he and Devin Booker would become “Shaq and Kobe 2.0”.

“We could really make something happen in Phoenix,” Ayton admitted. “We could really have a spark and start a winning legacy.’’

That’s an ambitious comment considering the fact that the Suns went an NBA-worst 21-61 this season and have had three-straight embarrassing campaigns. Regardless, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has a tremendous amount of interest in him.

The fit

“It was everything that we expected form Deandre,” McDonough said after the session. “Obviously, we’ve watched him closely at Arizona and we’ve scouted him heavily in person in games, at practice and on film. He showed us what we expected to see.”

“I think this is my 16th draft in the NBA,” McDonough noted, “and you can probably count on one hand the number of guys with his size, athleticism, footwork, balance, touch. It’s a unique package. … We knew he was big and strong and athletic and moved well at that size, had good length, had great hands, but to see him make shot after shot in a workout in different scenarios.’’

Overall, Ayton would make up an ultra-athletic starting five if he lands in Phoenix. He’d likely join Booker, Josh Jackson, TJ Warren (and possibly Elfrid Payton, who may or may not return).

“The strength of our team right now are young perimeter players, led by Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and TJ Warren,” McDonough continued. “We’ve been looking for a center to kind of anchor our team offensively and defensively. We think Deandre has that kind of potential. … He’s certainly a unique player and a unique talent that I think would fit in great with the rest of our roster.’’

Judging by McDonough’s words, it seems likely that Ayton is the current frontrunner to go first overall.

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