Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton’s defense is becoming concerning

Phoenix Suns Deandre Ayton (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Deandre Ayton (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Deandre Ayton’s defense was awful in the Phoenix Suns loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and a lot of his issues seemed to be effort based.

It’s hard to pick out just one negative in a 30 point loss. But then again, with Devin Booker injured, Deandre Ayton becomes by far the Phoenix Suns most important player. That means even on defense one can’t help but pay closer attention to Ayton and see how he’s doing. He’s not doing well.

Ayton got blown by countless times against the San Antonio Spurs. In a span of just a few possessions, he was blown by multiple times on plays where he should fairly easily be able to slide into position for good help defense, and then he was blown past again by his own man, the far older and less athletic Pau Gasol. That’s unacceptable.

Defense was a concern coming into the season, but the first few games Ayton looked okay. He was blocking shots, and his one on one defense looked solid. However, he often lost his man after quick help on defense, resulting in easy buckets. Still, he showed plenty of potential and looked more than serviceable.

Against the Spurs, Ayton started out strong. He had a couple nice contests on LaMarcus Aldridge fadeaway jumpers, and everyone knows how tough of a cover Aldridge can be. But as the game went on, Ayton’s defense just looked bad.

He was too slow to get over and help on what should have been fairly easy plays. He struggled to stay in front of his man. He looked tired and careless, and he was in poor defensive position much of the night, often standing straight up. That kind of effort isn’t acceptable.

Maybe he was tired. That makes sense for a young player getting heavy minutes while trying to adjust to travel in the NBA. Hopefully that’s it. Because the alternative is that the team was down big and Ayton stopped playing hard, and that would be disappointing. Ayton should be a leader on this team, no matter his age, and that should start with giving great effort all the time.

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Ayton has shown plenty of offensive promise for the Phoenix Suns, but his defense isn’t where it could be. There’s no doubt he’s putting in the work to improve, but a lot of his issues against the Spurs were just focus and effort related. Hopefully it was only one bad game and not a sign of what to expect going forward.