Phoenix Suns postseason push impact players: Deandre Ayton
4. Deandre Ayton. Oh, Luka Doncic. Yep, it’s possible the Suns No. 1 overall pick from the 2018 draft will never outrun the critics who say Doncic is — and will continue to be — the best player from that draft.
Here’s the good news: Ayton continues to make strides and address his shortcomings.
Here’s the bad news: Ayton’s shortcomings include trying to secure passes and rebounds with those small, small hands. Fans are tired of Kristen Wiig’s small-hands character in the Lawrence Welk sketches on “Saturday Night Live.”
But Ayton wants to be great. Young people do have a tendency to mature, and that’s the hook for Suns fans. Ayton just turned 22 last July and has quickly taken to instruction from coaches and, notably this season, Chris Paul.
He’s improving and, recently anyway, seems to be finding himself in the right spot at the right time.
Ayton came into the league with a particularly deft touch from midrange, especially for a guy listed at 6-11, 250 pounds. He’s become a real threat from the elbow, and opponents are forced to respect the jumper and close out on those attempts.
As an adjustment to that adjustment, if you will (and you will), Ayton has used his improving footwork to do some surprising work in the low post using a collection of jump hooks and short fadeaways.
Critics are still screaming at him for being too soft around the rim (just dunk the ball!), but he very likely has that on his radar.
If the top three on this list continue their top-level play, Ayton needs to produce a solid, consistent product each night and not worry about becoming a superstar. Yet, anyway.