Deandre Ayton’s progress, attitude key for Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Remember the old saying, Phoenix Suns fans, you can’t teach height?

Well that theory (taller is better) has already been disproved when a young Michael Jordan was selected third after 7-footers Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie were taken 1 & 2 respectively. Today’s NBA is a lot different. Teams maximize and put an emphasis on outside shooting but then complain when these young men come from college and never approach 40 percent from the arc.

Despite Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton being chosen number one on draft night and Luka Doncic looking like a future MVP, the overall consensus was Ayton should go first. Back when height still mattered the Chicago Bulls ended up settling with the greatest player to ever play the game. Deandre is no Hakeem, but he damn sure isn’t Sam Bowie.

Ayton’s issue is he is misplaced in today’s game, because today’s game is predicated on the three-ball. His inability to shoot the 3 hinders his game unlike new age centers KAT & Embiid who don’t roll to the basket and instead roll out past the arc because of their confidence.

Yet Ayton is willing, mind you he has 4 total made this year and all 4 shots didn’t give hope that it would get better, but he keeps teams honest. Honestly he shouldn’t be taking any threes at all. His responsibility is to dominate the inside and rebound, it’s up to Chris Paul and Devin Booker to force the issue.

They are the leaders on this team and both need to force it to him and I don’t just mean the ball, force the issue calling him out. Then it’s up to Ayton to stand up to it and show what level he wants to play at in this league.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Suns making the playoffs and everyone knows when the playoffs start, the game slows down so you’re going to need a player that can play with his back to the basket.

He does that with ease because he’s usually a mismatch for a team who wants to play the 4 as a 5 in small-ball lineups. Most of all rebounding typically favors the victor in any series and right now he seems to be the only one grabbing boards on the the team, but again that’s his job.

Deandre’s career not only affects him but the NBA as a whole. When height no longer matters and you value shooting over rebounding or the easy two-pointer, then the age of the big man will truly be extinct.

Players like Shaq or Tim Duncan will be no more, players who dominated both ends of the floor will end with Ayton. With Tim and Shaq there was an attitude that came along with being the tallest player on the floor. No they couldn’t move like their counterparts Kobe or Ginobili but they demanded that they touched the ball even if it was forced through their coaches system.

If Ayton wants to grow, he has to demand it, let his teammates know he’s going to go get two easy points when needed, or defer as he often does. Some players want the pressure like his teammate Booker.

You know that thing that Paul has, you know? That thing. That’s what Deandre lacks, an attitude.

So it’s crazy to hear the same people who at one point held polls on what the Suns could get for a young Devin now want the them to consider trading the only number one draft pick they have ever had.

The fact that there were sympathizers with a young Alex Len but none for Ayton is crazy. It’s mind-boggling that media want to throw in the towel on a guy that is way more advanced in his third year than Len.

A flip of a coin from losing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by an organization that has been in turmoil since Nash left now want to some quick returns.

What James Jones and Monty Williams have done over the past couple of years has helped wipe away some of this erosion. So their need for Ayton to start dominating is understandable, they do believe in him and have the right to call him out publicly when he underperforms. That’s their job.

So trading him especially since you won’t see value in any return would be foolish.

He moves well on defense and has been showing that he can keep up with the 1s and 2s when switching but what does it matter if you go for a layup on a wide open CP3 dish instead of dunking it, dunk it just because!

He has to understand his responsibility is to set the tone. The Phoenix Suns are Devin’s team, but we all know you can’t do this alone and the only way Deandre can become a part of a big three — or two — is for him to make his presence felt.

It’s up to him to have that killer instinct whether it’s dunking on somebody and looking back at them or setting the screen so opponents feel his presence is an attitude. It has nothing to do with skill it’s Dominayton.

You can make good money being tall, rebounding and playing defense — ask Rudy Gobert. Ayton has all the skill in the world but if there’s no desire to dominate then he will be a great backup a la Dwight Howard.

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