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How the Suns’ Deandre Ayton fared against other top draft picks in Summer League

None of the top 6 picks in the NBA Draft made first-team All-NBA Summer League team.

NBA: Summer League-Phoenix Suns at Sacramento Kings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As you read by now, the Suns top overall draft pick Deandre Ayton was just named to the SECOND team of the All-NBA Summer League teams, as picked by journos still around Vegas this past weekend.

Ayton, 7’1”, 260 pounds and still barely 20 years old, was widely panned in Summer League for not showing any “transcendence” beyond his obvious physical advantages while lesser talents were lavished with praise for exceeding their expectations.

Such is life.

Some players get a larger role in their team’s offense during SL, and many have a more-refined offensive game than Ayton does.

But SL is not designed to highlight the best prospects. It’s designed to highlight players with an alpha attitude most ready to contribute in creative ways.

Remember this above for context: this week former Suns guard Archie Goodwin became the Vegas SL’s all time leading scorer.

Let’s see how the Top 10 picks fared in this Summer League:

  1. Deandre Ayton: 4 games, 14.5 points (60% shooting), 10.5 rebounds, 1 block, Second-team All-NBA Summer
  2. Marvin Bagley III: only played one game (against Suns)
  3. Trae Young: 4 games, 17 points (38%), 7.4 assists, Second-team All-NBA Summer
  4. Jaren Jackson Jr.: 11.2 points (40%), 8.2 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, Second-team All-NBA Summer
  5. Luka Doncic: did not play
  6. Mohamed Bamba: 4 games, 8.7 points (60%), 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks
  7. Wendell Carter Jr.: 5 games, 14.6 points (55%), 9.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, FIRST-team All-NBA Summer
  8. Collin Sexton: 7 games, 19.6 points (43%), 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, FIRST-team All-NBA Summer
  9. Kevin Knox: 4 games, 21.2 points (35%), 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, FIRST-team All-NBA Summer
  10. Mikal Bridges: 4 games, 6.2 points (43% on threes), 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals

That’s 6 of the top 10 (9 of whom played in the SL) who made one of the two SL teams.

The others are Lakers second year player

FIRST TEAM:

  • Josh Hart, who played four years at Villanova before joining the Lakers as a late first rounder last year
  • Christian Wood, who played two years at UNLV before going undrafted in 2015, and then played less than 9 MPG in 30 games the past two seasons with Philly and Charlotte.

SECOND TEAM:

  • Wade Baldwin IV, who was drafted 17th overall in 2016 but was released after one season in Memphis. He hooked on with Portland last year, similar to how Shaq Harrison and Isaiah Canaan did with the Suns.
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, drafted by the Lakers with the 47th pick after four years at Kansas.

While four 22+ year old players who have not had success in the NBA and/or were not highly touted found a way to excel this past week in Vegas, none of the top 6 picks from the 2018 NBA Draft made the First-team All NBA Summer league team. Of the four that played more than one game in Vegas, three at least made the second-team, including the Suns’ Ayton.

I’ve been there for the voting on the All-Summer teams, and I’ll tell you that it’s as much about “feeling” as stats, if not moreso about “feeling”. Media got excited by overachieving picks outside the Top-6 and especially by overachieving players who have previously struggled finding NBA roles.

Let’s take a closer look at Ayton’s performance NOT in relation to older players. And NOT in relation to wing players with the ball in their hands all the time.

Here is Ayton compared to the other BIG MAN prospects who were in line for the #1 overall pick for the Suns.

Remember when four consecutive players came in with eyes on the #1 pick?

Here’s how they fared the past two weeks, along with Wendell Carter Jr., on a PER-36 basis so that we can level out Mo Bamba with the others.

*Stats for Marvin Bagley are iffy. The points and rebounds were readily available from game recaps of the California Classic in which Bagley had games of 18/6, 7/7 and 23 before scoring 15/7 against the Suns. I assumed a 25 MPG average and extrapolated that to per-36 like I did for the others. I could not easily find other stats for Bagley to compile averages.

Okay so while this is not a perfect comparison, you can see that Ayton did about as well if not better than any of the other young guys.

Ayton does not have a developed center game, but scored when he got the ball. And rebounded better than any of them.

He scored the most PPG, had the highest FG% of all of them, grabbed the most rebounds and collected the most steals. However, Ayton was worst on assists, blocks and turnovers, which will severely hurt his advanced defensive numbers — a source of consternation among NBA journalists and such.

You might also notice the only other Top-10 player not to make one of the All-Summer teams was #10 pick Mikal Bridges.

Bridges clearly had a smaller offensive role than any of the other top 10 picks and had the least to prove on the Suns roster. Let’s not worry about the fact that Igor Kokoskov didn’t feature Bridges — I actually think that’s a big compliment to Bridges.