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 Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

1. Deandre Ayton becomes a truly dominant defensive presence for the Suns.

Ayton is a very good interior defender, but he’s not yet a great one. When you identify the best in the league, his name probably won’t arise in the first handful.

Recently involved in a blockbuster trade that saw him head to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rudy Gobert usually tops the list as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

When it comes to the younger generation, the Memphis Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. had an impressive season, as did 24-year-old Robert Williams III for the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

Then, of course, you have the centers whose defensive versatility shines through – Williams’ teammate Al Horford, along with Miami’s Bam Adebayo.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

What do these five players have in common? They all held a better defensive field goal percentage than Ayton during last regular season. His was 44.3%, while Williams was top of that group at 40.2%.

That shows that he’s incredibly close, yet still isn’t quite in that top tier bracket. Part of the reason is also because, while Ayton is a quality contester of shots at the rim, he’s not a big shot blocker.

In fact, his highest block rate came in his second season where he averaged 1.5 per game. His average of 0.7 this last regular season is the lowest of his four-year career. Jackson, Williams and Gobert led the league in blocks last season, each averaging over two per game.

While defensive metrics go well past blocks per game when analysing a center’s defensive impact, many general analysts will look at his averages and discard the idea of him as elite defensive big.

So, he’ll ultimately have to improve as a shot blocker to firstly garner media attention, which will then raise his name in All-Star calculations.