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

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.