I’ve been following Deandre Ayton since his high-school days, he always received comparisons to David Robinson due to action figure physique and broad shoulders but he definitely falls short of being the player David Robinson was in his prime for the San Antonio Spurs in the 1990’s. David Robinson was a freak of nature and could dribble the length of the floor like a gazelle and finish over the top of anyone at his peak not to mention he was a first ballot hall-of-famer and arguably a top 20 player of all-time depending on what you go by. Back to Deandre Ayton who I so far feel has been a disappointment at the NBA level and i reckon back to the comments he made prior to being drafted years ago about him and Devin Booker possibly being the next Kobe and Shaq. That comment raised an eyebrow because I remember how dominant Kobe and Shaq were in their primes as I saw them win 3 straight championships in the early 2000’s. My buddy in 6th grade would always make fun of me as he was a New Jersey Nets fan at the time and I was a fan of Allan Houston and the New York Knicks who could barely win 30 games in that time period.
I thought the New Jersey Nets were going to upset the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 NBA Finals but that is when I found out just how dominant a duo Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, they toyed with the New Jersey Nets and stopped their fast break opportunities which they were notorious for and destroyed them in the half-court. So to hear Deandre Ayton make these comments definitely caught my interest and I’ve been following him ever since. I watched him at Arizona and sometime told me if this kid can put it all together he could be everything we were expecting from Dwight Howard as a force in the paint and a center who could wreck havoc on the NBA and average 25-30 points per game along with 12-15 rebounds per game in his prime but boy have I been wrong. Former coach Igor Kokoskov attempted to use Deandre Ayton as a defensive anchor it was known he wanted the Phoenix Suns to draft Luka Doncic and that is another factor hanging over Deandre Ayton’s head that he was drafted before Luka Doncic who is already being regarded amongst the NBA elites and a top 5 player in the NBA already in his 3rd season.
Most would think the Phoenix Suns are on the uptick after hiring former New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams last season and trading for Chris Paul this past off-season but I am not sold on them sorry. I know they are off to a 6-2 start but how can Deandre Ayton have a point-guard the caliber of a Chris Paul and not be averaging at least 21-26 points per game? His shot attempts per game have dropped from 15 to 10 and he is averaging a measly 13 points per game with 11 rebounds per game? I know you don’t measure how good a player based off statistics all the time but for a #1 overall pick that is mediocre at best, there is no way the Phoenix Suns will compete for anything this season or beyond if Deandre Ayton does not take his game to the next level, the sad part is he has all the tools to be the best center in the game he just lacks the drive to be great. He has a post fade-away jumper,he practically physically outmatches anyone on the court, he can face-up defenders and serve as a pick and pop shooter, sure he has improved his defense but Ayton lacks a killer instinct.
I don’t mean to be hard in my assessment of Deandre Ayton but I just see a guy who is settling and at this point I am not expecting Devin Booker to be anything more than he already is. He can get you 25 to 60 points a night and is a decent play-maker but I’m done expecting him to ever become the 2-way player he needs to become to become elite so let’s stop the Kobe Bryant comparisons once and for all. Chris Paul despite being an injury waiting to happen possesses winning intangibles and can still put a team on his back even at the age of 35, the pieces are there to compete for a championship but like I said Deandre Ayton has to make the leap. Mikal Bridges is one of the better 3 and D wings in the NBa at the moment and the addition of Jae Crowder was huge as he can rotate as a small-forward or small ball power-forward and help keep the floor spaced out for the Phoenix Suns, not to mention the verteran leadership he brings to the locker-room along with his toughness and grit which will help the Phoenix Suns come playoff time assuming they get in this season.
I know it is early on as we are only 8 games into the season and for all I know the best is yet to come for Deandre Ayton but I am not seeing the transition in Ayton’s development. He is 22 years old and in his 3rd season, it might be a bit premature to call him a bust but Chris Paul will end up ring-less if he remains on the Phoenix Suns. Not sure what the Suns’s plan was bringing over Chris Paul, it shows that they want to compete as for 4-5 years now since the departures of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic everyone was wondering why didn’t the Phoenix Suns sign or trade for a starting caliber point guard. I can’t comprehend how Ayton is not flourishing with a floor general the caliber of Chris Paul who is regarded in the eyes of many arguably the most complete point guard in NBA history, Paul made centers like Tyson Chandler in New Orleans,Deandre Jordan in Los Angeles, and Clint Capela in Houston look much better than they actually were offensively and Deandre Ayton I’ll give the benefit of the doubt has more in his arsenal offensively than those 3 centers since he can actually shoot jumpers.
To conclude if I was Deandre Ayton I would be motivated about Luka Doncic receiving much more attention than me as the former #1 overall pick. Deandre Ayton proclaimed himself to be the best player in a draft which already possesses two all-stars in Trae Young and Luka Doncic 3 others who looked prime for future all-star appearances in Collin Sexton,Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Jaren Jackson Jr. I think I want Deandre Ayton to be great more than he actually wants it, I love the makeup of the Phoenix Suns roster but they look like a first round exit at best assuming they get in the playoffs this season. As shocking as this might sound if Deandre Ayton fails to average at least 20 points per game this season and start showing he can be a dominant center going into the future the Phoenix Suns should be on the phone disucssing trades, till next time.