No debate: Deandre Ayton should start at center when he returns for the Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Deandre Ayton is not a Four

Any arguments too to place Deandre Ayton at power forward with Aron Baynes at center are entirely ill-founded and mis-placed.

A fun thought experiment, sure, but a situation that will somehow make the Phoenix Suns better, it is not.

What makes Aron Baynes so exciting right now is that fact that he is playing center,  and that as a center  he is shooting (and making) 3’s.

So, as the franchise’s best stretch-five since Channing Frye, it would seem logical to keep him there.

However, Deandre Ayton does not shoot 3’s  (yet).

While I believe that he would be most effectively developed if he added that shot with some consistency (I am curious if he is just as afraid to shoot them as Ben Simmons is for the Sixers), the fact remains that including the preseason, he has played in four games this season, and even after an offseason of bragging that that shot was coming, he had yet to have even attempted one.

Take that bragging into consideration as well when you consider his role as a power forward.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

This is not a fan-based idea: playing power forward in the NBA was his  idea. He mentioned it numerous times leading up to and after the draft.

But now consider that he has had two head coaches and two general managers (none of whom who have played him at power forward), realize that those were his  words that some fans have bought into.

Words coming from the same mouth that bragged about adding a 3-point shot this offseason (which might  actually make him a power forward possibility), and which too has never materialized.

Deandre Ayton is still a back to the basket center, someone who needs to live in the post to be most effective with his game at the moment.

Until a 3-point shot develops in earnest, he must  stay there or he will lose all effectiveness totally ruining his ability to help the team and develop.

Then there is the argument of adding Baynes to starting power forward with Ayton at the five.

That is fiiiiine,  except that by moving Baynes to the four, you are giving up a lot of athleticism in defending the opponent’s power forwards.

Granted Dario Saric is not the most athletic player in the world, but he is a natural power forward who can defend the four well, while also stretching the court himself as an outside shooter on the offensive.

His own defensive drive is in many way comparable to Baynes’, so it is not like the Suns are gaining much at all on the defensive end by moving Saric out of the starter’s spot.

There will certainly be situations too in which Monty Williams can play both Ayton and Baynes together (most certainly with Ayton at the five and Baynes at the four) – although even those situations will likely be for only brief stretches.

One has to too imagine that in the event of Dario Saric suffering an injury forcing him to miss a few games, that Kelly Oubre will move to the four, playing a Shawn Marion-esque power forward while Mikal Bridges will slide into the starting three spot, playing a Joe Johnson-esque small forward.

This will continue to allow Baynes to spell Ayton, playing the center with the reserve unit, while also continuing to maintain his position at center.

Next. Point: Aron Baynes should start after Deandre Ayton's return. dark

In the end, Phoenix Suns fans should be extremely excited at both the start of the regular season as well as Aron Baynes’ role in it. He has been playing exceptional; easily the best stretch of his career.

However, Deandre Ayton is the team’s starting center and did nothing to deserve a demotion; nor has Baynes proven that he is the best player to start at center for any length of time. Aron Baynes’ position on this roster is on the bench – a role that will only enhance the team from top-to-bottom.