In 2014, I told the good brotha 4MPHyAli this was the golden age of big men. Not in the sense of dominance. We’ve seen a couple eras with groups of brilliant giants who dazzled crowds by dancing around opponents or physically imposing their will in the lane. This is a little different. Not only do bigs block shots and dunk on each other. We also have 7-footers who can lead the break, dish dimes, keep the rock on a string and shoot the once-forbidden trey ball.
Straight out of the build-a-center factory is DeAndre Ayton, who the eccentric yet astute Bill Walton called the future of the history of basketball. I’ve heard people talk about Ayton having subpar defensive instincts and so forth, but he averaged 1.9 blocks per. Put a bunch of motivated, young defenders, a tough-nosed vet to learn from and a coach who likes to get out and run in transition and he’ll be fine. I’m willing to bet my Fire Stick on it. Side note: This is the same kid who I’ve seen stick with guards from the perimeter to the paint at a chiseled 7 feet, 250 pounds. Guys who can do that don’t grow on trees -- or Earth for that matter.
Offensively, there are few more gifted at the age of 18 than Ayton. I can’t think of who I’ve seen this advanced, this young, but saying a few makes things sound more modest. Not only did he dunk on every dummy who dared to stand in front of the rim and grab offensive boards -- 118 in 2017-18 -- at a gargantuan rate. He also knocked down midrange jumpers, showed off highly impressive footwork and drained 3s comfortably -- a 34.3-percent shooter at Arizona. If you’ve seen a clone, please tell me, but I think we have a consensus No. 1 pick here, ladies and gentlemen.