How Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton becomes an All-Star next season

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Deandre Ayton will be back with the Phoenix Suns next season, with the franchise having matched the Indiana Pacers’ four-year, $133 million offer sheet.

Ayton had an incredibly productive fourth season, perhaps his best at NBA level to date. He averaged 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds during the regular season, shooting a career high 63.4% from the floor.

With Deandre Ayton returning to the Phoenix Suns, can the 23-year-old grow his game to an All-Star level?

Before we begin, it’s important to acknowledge the enormity of this question. The Suns have won the most games in the league across the last two regular seasons, yet have fallen short in both playoff appearances.

They ran into an unstoppable Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2021 NBA Finals, while the franchise has been left reeling following their game seven meltdown against the Dallas Mavericks.

With a slight decline from Chris Paul seemingly inevitable given his age, continued growth from the younger players is imperative to the Suns achieving their championship aspirations.

This includes Ayton, whose relationship with the franchise was questioned after the disappointing exit from the 2022 playoffs. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, this stems from the team’s decision not to extend a five-year offer to him last offseason.

"“Ultimately, they didn’t value DeAndre Ayton at a max contract, maximum money…This process does create acrimony, certainly it was felt in Phoenix, especially at the end of last season”."

Repairing the relationship is the first step before Ayton even takes the floor next season. If this doesn’t happen, then it’s difficult to envisage the 6″11″ big man remaining with the team long-term, let alone becoming an All-Star calibre player next season.

If Ayton and the Suns can recreate a harmonious, productive relationship, then they can start dissecting basketball aspects that will help him reach his optimum level within the team dynamic.