After working out for the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, Deandre Ayton expressed an immense amount of confidence when speaking to reporters.
"I know I'm going No. 1,'' he told reporters, per the Associated Press.
There was no indication that the Suns told him, but he had a feeling after the visit. "Nobody told me,'' he said. "That's just me. I think I deserve that. I've worked hard.’'
Since the Suns have the first overall pick in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft, they’ll have the chance to select Ayton if they feel he’s the best prospect available. But, others like Luka Doncic, Mohamed Bamba, Jaren Jackson Jr., Michael Porter and Marvin Bagley have recently been gaining traction.
On Friday, Bagley worked out for the Suns and directly addressed Ayton’s prediction.
"Deandre, he's going to do what he's going to do. That's his plan," Bagley said, via the Associated Press. "All I can do is control what I can control and do what I love to do and just show different teams what I'm capable of doing. I can't really worry about what other people are doing at this point. This is an important time in my life right now, something I've been working toward my whole basketball career.”
"It's disrespectful and I use it as drive every single day," he added. "At the end of the day, this is all talk right now. Eventually we'll have to go on the court and we'll have to play. That's where all the talking ends.”
Therefore, not only was Bagley offended at Ayton’s remarks, but he’s using them as fuel from now until the night of the draft. At Duke University, Bagley won the ACC Player of the Year award as a freshman, averaging 21.0 points on 61.4 percent shooting along with 11.1 rebounds in 33.9 minutes. Just like Ayton, he excelled at shooting the ball from the perimeter, knocking down 39.7 percent of his three-point attempts.
Making his case
"I definitely believe I'm the No. 1 pick," Bagley said, "and if the Suns take me I'll definitely show them why.”
When asked if he would have a chip on his shoulder against the Suns if they didn't take him, Bagley answered, "I'm a competitive person. You never want to come in last. You always put the work in to be great and to get to that next level. That's just the type of player that I am. So, to answer the question, yes.”
At 6’11” and with a great deal of athleticism, Bagley projects to be a power forward at the NBA level. Since he can also handle the ball with ease and also possesses finesse similar to Chris Bosh, he’s a completely different player than Ayton, who projects as more of a true center due to his 7’1” frame.
"Being able to get the ball and go off of rebounds and pushing" sets him apart from Ayton, Bagley noted. "There's a lot more space now than there is in college. Just being able to play in open space and getting out and running. I think that's where my best is when we're running and everybody's not thinking and having fun.”
"I can do a lot inside and out, offensively and defensively," Bagley added. "I just want to be able to have that mindset of coming in and showing everybody a full game, a full package.”
In the end, the Suns most likely haven’t come to a decision yet. Just like Ayton, Bagley has connections to the area having played for some local teams throughout his pre-college days.
"It seems like there are multiple guys who are worthy," Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. "Some years, to be honest with you, probably don't have any guys who deserve it but somebody has to go one."
It will be fascinating to see who the Suns end up taking.