Inside Deandre Ayton's leap and what it means for future bigs

Deandre Ayton describes how to guard NBA stars (3:25)

Suns center Deandre Ayton reviews film of him defending Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Pascal Siakam, Damian Lillard and Trae Young. (3:25)

With the Phoenix Suns joining the NBA bubble as one of 22 teams returning to play later this month, 2018 No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton has the platform to show a national audience that he's evolving into a two-way center and one of the league's most promising young bigs.

A 25-game suspension for a positive diuretic test delayed Ayton's breakout sophomore season, but during the 30 games in which Ayton did take the floor, his defensive progress was a bright spot, both statistically and on tape, especially when you consider where he was as a rookie.

"Rookie season was me ... I wouldn't say I was playing through the motions, but I think I was getting too comfortable, a little too comfortable," Ayton said. "This year, going through all these obstacles and me basically facing my career in front of my eyes, I just really got humbled this year."

Ayton's second-year leap is not only a huge development for Phoenix's future but also reflects how the value of the NBA center position is evolving. Here's a look at how Ayton has taken a step forward and what that could mean for future lottery picks finding their way.