Introduction: Ayton’s Previous Performance
Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, had set high expectations for himself from the get-go. In his initial seasons, Ayton displayed a promising blend of athleticism, scoring, and defensive prowess.
However, the Deandre Ayton we’ve seen lately seems to be a shadow of his former self. Fans are still evaluating Ayton based on his extraordinary performance during the 2021 NBA Finals run, but he has fallen a long way in the past two seasons.
Defensive Woes: Specific Areas of Regression
Ayton’s defensive regression has been a significant concern for the Suns. A lot of it boils down to effort. His rim protection numbers last season were not impressive, especially when compared to players like Jusuf Nurkic, who is four years older and has a hefty injury history.
Ayton’s pick-and-roll defense has also been exploited by opposing teams. They have been putting him in as many pick-and-rolls as possible to take advantage of his defensive lapses. Specifically, Ayton has been in the wrong place at the wrong time and not moving fast enough.
The Playoffs: Ayton’s Performance in High-Stakes Games
When it comes to the playoffs, Ayton’s performance has been less than stellar. Three of the last four postseason series the Suns have played in, Deandre was not good.
His worst performance was in the most recent postseason, where he was often caught being too far back in pick-and-roll situations and not playing up high enough. This lack of effort and positioning has been detrimental to the Suns, especially in high-stakes games where every possession counts.