NBA Mock Draft: DeAndre Ayton joins the Hawks

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 09: Deandre Ayton
TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 09: Deandre Ayton /
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player. 149. . G/F. Arizona. Rawle Alkins. 23

The Wildcats were improving before Alkins’ return in early December to officially begin his sophomore season, but his presence in the lineup takes Arizona to another level. He plays downhill on offense and like a bulldozer on defense, skills that allow him to thrive in a complementary role next to Ayton.

After an inspiring performance in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament against North Dakota, Alkins missed time recovering from a foot surgery to start the year. He returned at home against Alabama on Dec. 9. Since then, he has picked up where he left off, scoring when needed (including 26 in a win at New Mexico) and playing tough defense.

Marvels like Alkins are hard to come by, but by playing bigger than he is, he falls into an inherent disadvantage. His best role in a NBA defense figures to be on the wing, but he’s as tall as a point guard (with a 6-foot-9 wingspan). Fortunately, with the open court vision he has as a passer, as well as his driving ability, he could eventually turn into more of a combo guard.

Late in the first round, taking a guy already capable of scoring 20 or 30 points against NCAA talent while defending the opponent’s best wing is a potential steal.