How Deandre Ayton takes the next step for the Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

Again, with Ayton mainly settling for jump shots or little hooks in the lane, he is not taking full advantage of his athletic ability. Maybe Ayton is not as big and strong as Jokic or Embiid, but he is much quicker.

Ayton needs to use the pump fake and get to the line for the Suns

With a solid jumper, especially if he is hitting, defenders will come out and contest. Ayton needs to take advantage of that, and a simple pump fake is a great way. The best thing about a pump fake is that Ayton does not need to be Kobe Bryant or Tracey McGrady good with the move, just effective enough to get the defender off the ground.

Once the defender is off the ground, and you are not committed to the shot, the world is your oyster as a basketball player. From there, Ayton can lean forward, shoot, and get to the free-throw line more. Alternatively, he can take a dribble or two and get a closer, more open look at the basket. Either result is better than only taking jumpers time after time.

Adding a solid pump fake to his game will open everything else up.

Booker needs to teach Deandre the jab step and triple threat

Ayton needs to play more with the ball in his hands away from the bucket. By adding in a pump fake, the defender must come out more cautiously. Then if Ayton can bring the ball down into triple threat position and make a jab step, we know the defender will be off balance.

At a minimum, going to the triple threat and using a jab step will create more space for his jumper. At maximum, with two of the best triple-threat players in the world around him every day in KD and Booker, he can pick up a few moves and change the way teams have to defend him.

Too often, when Deandre tries to dribble, the defense is too close and collapses on him. Playing with the ball more aggressively before he even puts it on the floor creates the space he needs to move.

Deandre needs to pick and roll like the Suns of old

When Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire were leading the Suns seven seconds or less era, the pick and roll was a mainstay on offense. And while the Suns still have a heck of a pick-and-roll point guard in CP3, Ayton is not much of a roller.

More often than not, Ayton will play a screen, then drop-step to face the bucket and be ready to take a shot from 15-20 feet away. Or he might get the ball and then hand it off to a different guard running by. What we rarely, if ever, see Ayton do is turn and roll to the basket.

At 7′ tall and 250 pounds, Ayton is a specimen. The NBA has made it clear that offensive players have the advantage, and it is time to start taking that advantage with Ayton.

DA should see more easy buckets if he runs, and maybe, just maybe, if the passes are right, we will start to see Ayton dunk the ball. Ayton often lays the ball in because he starts with the ball low near his midsection. Not only does DA need to do more rolling, but the guards also need to throw more lobs and make the man get the ball. He won’t have many choices if Ayton catches the ball above the rim.

The reality is, if, after four years, a player hasn’t shown the kind of Amare aggression we want, it will probably never happen. However, with some polish and some work on his game, Ayton can be a real force on offense if he expands his options.

Next. How DA can be a defensive leader for Phoenix. dark