The Phoenix Suns should not play Deandre Ayton at Power Forward

Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

General Manager James Jones recently stated the Phoenix Suns could play Deandre Ayton at the power forward some this year, and the internet is ablaze on whether or not this is a good idea. In summary, it is not.

Rumors surfaced recently by James Jones that the Phoenix Suns’ are toying with the idea of playing last year’s number one overall draft pick, and notable lifelong center, Deandre Ayton, at power forward.

On so many levels, this screams “horrible idea.”

The power forwards on the roster expected to see the most minutes are Dario Šarić and Cameron Johnson. Both of these guys are stretch fours.

Presumably, Monty Williams will develop a style of play to match his personnel, and will have his power forwards spend a lot of time on the perimeter.

Deandre Ayton is not a stretch anything.

Even though he made 12 3-pointers out of the 35 he shot at Arizona, he didn’t make any of his four attempts during his rookie season.

Some folks blame this on former coach Igor Kokoskov for shackling Ayton to the paint, but judging solely from his play on the court, Ayton’s ability to hit a jumper is good for a center, yet sub par for a power forward.

If Ayton plays the four, that means either Aron Baynes or Frank Kaminsky plays alongside him at the center position.

Frank Kaminsky is a career 35% 3-point shooter. If the Suns are set on putting two 7-footers on the court at the same time, Frank Kaminsky makes much more sense at the four spot.

Similarly, Aron Baynes showed at the World Cup his 3-point shot picked up some serious consistency. So, again, if the Suns insist on playing the two big men at the same time, Baynes would be much more adept at power forward in this system than Ayton.

This provides four solid options at power forward that wouldn’t require Monty Williams to alter the way he wants his team to play.

If the Suns planned for a style of play that keeps power forwards in the paint, then it makes their draft day transactions exponentially more confusing.

Why draft Johnson and trade for Šarić when they could have drafted PJ Washington or Brandon Clarke, and traded for pretty much anyone else?

The wildcard power forward on the roster is Cheick Diallo. He is, to say the least, not an outside shooting threat.

However, he provides length, athleticism, bounce, energy, and all the other hustle terms that bring value to a team. These attributes are key when it comes to defense and rebounding, which is how Diallo will earn minutes.

The Suns don’t need him to shoot 3’s.

Most importantly, Diallo can guard the majority of power forwards in the league while providing additional rim protection, rebounds, and garbage buckets. That’s his niche.

It is not to say that Ayton doesn’t have length, athleticism, etc., but Ayton guarding an athletic four on the perimeter will quickly expose his level of these attributes.

Šarić. Johnson. Kaminsky. Baynes. Diallo.

That leaves little reason to make Deandre Ayton learn a new position when that effort could go toward perfecting his skill set at center, where he has played his entire life.

A counterpoint to all of this might be, “Well, based on match ups, it might make sense.”

You can use the based-on-match-ups argument to finagle your way through any basketball-related mental jungle gym.

Let’s try it.

Imaginary rumor: “The Phoenix Suns are considering playing all five of their point guards at the same time.”

Someone out there: “Well, based on match ups, this could make sense.”

Don’t lie and tell yourself this isn’t a marginally feasible scenario. You’ve seen Twitter. You know what’s out there.

Ultimately, it comes down to what problem are the Phoenix Suns trying to solve by playing Ayton at power forward?

Make him more versatile? Okay, but versatility doesn’t require a new position.

In fact, playing Ayton at power forward over more qualified players at the position actually creates problems. It does not solve them.

Next. Counterpoint: Could Deandre Ayton at power forward work?. dark

The Phoenix Suns have more than a handful of issues to fix if they are going to take the next step towards establishing a winning team.

This isn’t one of them.