The Phoenix Suns’ young star, Deandre Ayton, has said he wants to shoot 3s before, but he really might be ready to do it this time.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Deandre Ayton wants to start shooting 3s. It has been an on-and-off-again subject since he joined the Phoenix Suns, but in a meeting with the media recently, Ayton said during hiatus workouts, he has been, “Shooting the 3 like a middy.”
Middy, as in a mid-range jump shot, has been one of Ayton’s go-to offensive moves in his first two NBA seasons, sometimes frustratingly so. When you’re seven feet tall, 250 pounds and your instinct is to shoot a fadeaway jumper when you catch the ball fifteen feet away from the basket, you’re going to annoy fans who want you to be aggressive and dunk it in someone’s face.
That being said, this time it really might sound like Ayton is ready to step outside the arc.
Deandre Ayton may start shooting 3s for the Phoenix Suns.
Ayton has now had two unexpected stoppages to basketball and plenty of unplanned time to think, plan, and prepare. When he talked about shooting 3s last offseason, it felt more like wishful thinking. On the court, he never even looked for a 3-point shot.
Monty Williams has said he hasn’t told Ayton not to shoot 3s, but Ayton hasn’t taken it upon himself to shot them in games. That makes sense, though, because, after his 25 game suspension, Ayton was trying to get his feet under him more than anything else, learn a new system, and get comfortable on the court again. Adding an additional element to his game was not high on his priority list.
But another reason why I think it is possible he really might start shooting 3s is that we have seen him do it in warmups. Before one game, we videoed him going around the world from the outside, making seven of eight, and his jumper looked smooth.
The fact that he’s even shooting 3s in warmups makes me think this is a routine practice for him.
Additionally, Ayton’s backup, Aron Baynes, demonstrated the center position in Monty’s offense has the opportunity to shoot 3s, as Baynes was essentially the Mon-Star version of Steph Curry for a few games this season. Not that this is a great comparison because of the way the game has changed, but for what it’s worth, Baynes didn’t shoot 3s until year seven of his NBA career.
Ayton can take a page out of Baynes’ playbook and instead of pick-and-rolling, he can pick-and-pop or sprint to the top of the key when trailing and will find himself open for 3.
Is Ayton going to turn into Baynes immediately? Probably not. But these eight Disney games, in a way, feel like players are playing with house money. It could be time for them to experiment or work on elements of their game not previously explored.
It might finally be time for Deandre Ayton to start shooting 3s.