With the first pick in the 2018 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns must pick DeAndre Ayton, a 7’1″ center/power forward from the University of Arizona. Ayton is the best basketball player in the draft, but not only is he the player that the Suns need, but he’s also the person the Suns need.
A little on myself
I want to preface this with some facts about myself. Also, I was born and raised in Phoenix and lived there until I moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona last fall. I love basketball but don’t like the NBA and couldn’t care less about the Suns – until now. I’m a huge Arizona Wildcats fan (I write about Arizona Athletics on here). I watched Ayton tear up the Pac-12 from the ZonaZoo last year. I’m not done watching that big man do his work.
I grew up a basketball fan but I never got into the Suns. I played at the Jewish Community Center growing up and wore a Jr. Suns jersey but mocked it. That was when Phoenix was amazing. That was the Colangelo era with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. No matter, I reserved all my fandom for the Wildcats. I can’t be alone.
The Suns are the rare Phoenix team that’s been around for awhile. The Diamondbacks are a few months older than I am and the Cardinals had a few homes before relocating to Phoenix in the ’80s. The Suns are the only team in the state where fandom could be passed down from generation to generation. But as of late, there hasn’t been any buzz or energy around the team. There’s been no reason for there to be.
Now take that last statement as a grain of salt. I listen to Arizona Sports 98.7 a lot so I know at least a little bit about the Suns, but I pretty much just waited for those segments to end to hear about the Cardinals or Diamondbacks.
All about Zona
What I do know is that I went to a Suns/Memphis Grizzlies game this past season and rooted for the Grizzlies because my boy, former Wildcat, Kobi Simmons was playing for Memphis. I’m not the only one who likes the Wildcats more than the Suns. I’m confident of that.
The Suns need to generate excitement around the team. That’s obvious. For the past few years, they’ve been really, really bad. Ayton is that excitement. Ayton makes me want to be an NBA fan! He’s a fun player to watch and a fun personality to watch. The Arizona basketball program is annoyingly vague and doesn’t give media fair access to the players. For that reason, it wasn’t until the Pac-12 tournament that we got to see this side of him. He walked up to the media hanging around his locker and introduced himself as Josh, because he felt like a Josh in that instance. He’s funny. He rode a hover board around campus until the poor thing broke under his 260-pound frame. He was entertaining to watch all damn day.
Seeing Ayton do his thing
I really want to watch Ayton show truly how good he is defensively and on the boards because he won’t be called for BS fouls just for being tall (also Pac-12 officials are the absolute worst). I want to watch him post up on someone his own size. It’s just going to be fun.
Right after the lottery was announced and it was made known that the Suns would have the first overall pick, I immediately looked at my buddy and joked about how many Ayton Suns jerseys we’d see in the McKale Center next year.
The stars have aligned. The Suns have been great at screwing up no brainers in the past. They can’t afford to screw up this time.