For all the knocks on Ayton, I think he would be a great fit with our AD (After-Dame) timeline. He is way more mobile and capable as a defender than any big we have. He wants the ball on the offense more, and that is strike one against him as we will still have Grant and be looking to get Scoot, Ant, and Sharpe going. That big contract isn't the worst if we are talking AD. Instead of being talked down to by big stars and coaches, he would have a player friendly coach and be closer to an elder statesman here with some new scenery. However, there are a few reasons this won't happen.
1- Ayton/Nurkic or Ayton/Dame
We are trying to stir up business, and it has been well documented how terrible this news cycle has been- all propaganda from every side and little truth that is evident. Portland might do Ayton for Nurk and filler. Phoenix would do Ayton and filler for Dame. They don't really want Nurk back for Ayton. A slower, injury prone big with the same motivation questions as a younger top pick with way more mobility and still a bit of upside? They don't want that package. It could happen in a multi team deal somehow, but read further...
2- Mike Schmitz
Personally, I thought the writing was on the wall for the Dame era when we pulled off a coup by grabbing ESPN's best talent evaluator as our top scout. This guy knows how to pick 'em, and he was likely told he would have that opportunity. He came in around the Sharpe draft, you have to imagine he was consulted. One Sharpe and Scoot later, and he looks to be doing pretty well for us. I think they will continue this path. We are exiting the era of the point guard and heading into a new era of dominant big men, although they will look much different than those of the past. Looking into the same crystal ball available to the front office, which is admittedly murky at best, they likely want to draft their big man of the future, and this 2024 draft will likely supply that to them.
3- Alexandre Sarr
He's not Wemby, and none of these guys will be. But he is way more advanced than his brother ex-Blazer Olivier Sarr was. Another guy like Wemby who is far more fluid and agile than most guys his size, with a great defensive game out to the three point line, and some shot making ability as well. This is the type of big man athlete you want by Scoot and Sharpe, a runner who will not slow down the offense.
4- Aday Mara
Another fluid athlete with defense and several skills on offense, Mara is most often compared to Pau and Jokic. I think the Jokic thing is way off, but that isn't because he isn't skilled. It's because Jokic does some of the things he does in a way that looks effortless because he knows how to use his big body. Mara is young still, but it doesn't look like anyone will be calling him girthy any time soon. I feel Pau is a good comparison, maybe with a little bit of young healthy Porzingis added in there. He has a lot of the fundamentals look to his game (I think that is where the Jokic comp comes from), and that technique mastery (should he continue to foster it) will serve him well, as it will be less demanding on him than having to rely on pure athleticism.
5- Aaron Bradshaw
While not quite as fluid as these other two bigs, Bradshaw is not a plodding behemoth either. He does look like a young Claxton. Big time dunker, solid defender around the rim, very athletic. Has shown promise as a shooter from mid, working at the three-- is a good free throw shooter for a big. Needs to add some strength to pound with the NBA bigs, but all of these young guys do. Biggest knock is inconsistency, but what young guy doesn't face that?
Obviously it's really early and a lot will change. All of these guys might flame out, but I think at least one of them will a top 3 pick, and I see all three of them in the top 10 if we draft today. We likely won't have that great of a record although I hope for the best, Scoot is young and playing the hardest position in the greatest league in the world. We will likely have the ability to grab one of these three guys, and all of them would be really fun next to Scoot and Shae. DA won't be here AD.