Phoenix Suns Season Reset: Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

With the season fast approaching, let’s catch up on each member of the Phoenix Suns for a quick reset. Let’s dive into the season of Deandre Ayton

The following are basic stats for the Phoenix Suns big man.

Age: 21

Position: Center (Ayton thinks he is a power forward in the NBA. He is not.)

Stats: 17.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals/blocks per game

54.8% from the field, 57.1% true shooting, zero three-pointers made (only three attempted all season)

Let’s flashback to opening night. In a solid win over the Sacramento Kings, Deandre Ayton put up18 points on 9-14 from the field, to go along with 11 rebounds and four blocks.

We all know how the next 25 games played out. Well…I mean they played on without Ayton.

Ayton’s 25 game suspension for the use of diuretics was unfortunate on a few levels, one of which was the personal growth and development for Ayton this season that was almost immediately stunted, despite such a powerful game just a day before in what was sure to be a promising season. It was a bad situation all around for both Ayton and the Phoenix Suns, even though Aron Baynes stepped up in a major way in Ayton’s absence.

Related Story. Phoenix Suns Season Reset: Ricky Rubio. light

The good news is that upon Ayton’s return, it was hard to see if he missed a beat. Over the remaining 29 games that he played, he scored in double digits in every one, including 14 contests where he scored better than 20 points, with eight of those being 25 or more and one of those being over 30 points. He also had 20 double-doubles, a staggering amount considering the actual number of games that he played. All of that scoring was done on a true shooting percentage of 57%, which is solid and yet still a step down from last year’s total of a whopping 60.8% true shooting, which is insane. He was almost unquestionably playing like one of the top big men in the NBA before the league’s stoppage.

On offense, Ayton is a beast, especially in the paint once he has the defender on his back. He is dominant on the block, with an effective mid-range jumper (even if he shoots it a bit too much for my taste; be assertive down there!) Mismatches are easy money for him, and the chemistry that he’s been able to form with Ricky Rubio has been encouraging. It would be a big boon for him to become a better passer from in the post, but he makes the smart obvious read, and the hope would be for him to eventually become more cerebral of a passer and improve on anticipating defensive coverages.

Deandre Ayton has shown massive improvement, even with a stunted sophomore season.

In terms of long-range shooting, Ayton still hasn’t spaced it out beyond the arc just yet, only shooting a combined seven (without a make) over his past two seasons up to this point. That isn’t necessarily a requirement yet but if he were to fully embrace that (he was 12/35 in college) it would open up the floor that much more for Devin Booker and others while making Ayton even more potent as an inside-outside threat who can score at all three levels.

Defensively Ayton has made strides over his rookie year but can still look to improve in a major way. While some of the obvious areas of improvement would be general awareness on that end of the floor, hustle stats hold up favorably for him, especially in contesting shots and making plays on loose balls. (Ayton is in the top 10 in both two and three-point shots contested and he’s fourth in the entire league in overall shots contested.) Again, there are needs for improvement, but these are encouraging numbers that show development on that end for Deandre.

To help the Phoenix Suns attempt to make up some ground in these seeding games (I mean, anything is possible) Ayton really just has to continue to play like he has and shoulder the load he’s has had alongside Booker. Defensively, playing solid and sticking to principles is key, but all in all, Ayton playing to the ability that he is capable on both sides of the court has the potential to make a huge difference down the stretch for the Suns.

Next. Phoenix Suns: Bleacher Report ranks Ingles above Oubre. dark