Deandre Ayton, once ridiculed and belittled, shines for the Suns in his NBA Finals debut

On the day he became the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Deandre Ayton was slightly taller than 7-0 and weighed 261 pounds, measuring 84 inches from the tip of his outstretched right hand to the tip of his left hand. Vertical jump test Is 44 inches. He averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game for a team that won the Pac-12 regular season and championship championships, and was named the nation’s first team.

If that day comes in 1998 or 2008 instead of 2018, the general manager will offer their least favorite child to the Suns in exchange for Ayton’s draft pick. He will be seen as the next in the franchise foundation big man series, from George Mikan to Bill Russell to Wilt Chamberlain to Karim Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan’s successor.

On the contrary, in the modern era of basketball analysis, he has Internet drafting experts Make a fuss about his “block rate”. When Ayton’s rookie season was less than halfway, he was only 20 years old, a writer from the blog “Sun Valley” declared, “Deandre Ayton is not a suitable candidate for the Phoenix Suns First is the overall” because modern games are oriented towards shooting and possession. Ayton averaged 15.5 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Now that he has played 17 games in the NBA playoffs for the first time-and took 3 victories from the championship-Ayton’s talent is causing people to reassess the value of the 7-footer. , Especially one who can be like Ayton. If there are others.

“He just locked in this role,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said after his 118-105 victory over the Bucks in the first game of the 2021 NBA Finals. “Sometimes when you tell players that they have a role, they tend to think that you limit their abilities. I don’t think DA thinks that way. I think he understands his role and how he affects the victory on both sides of the ball .”

Ayton announced his entry into the Finals with 22 points and 19 rebounds. He shot 8 of 10 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free throw line. He grabbed 17 defensive rebounds—more than one-third of all the shots the Bucks missed—and committed only three fouls. He did not record a block. This doesn’t seem to matter to the Bucks. Their two-point shooting percentage is only 46.2%.

For those of you who have watched Ayton throughout the Suns 51-21 season, especially their 13-4 playoff series, what happened to him in his first Finals game is nothing. a surprise.

“Chris (Paul) whispered to me as he walked out,’We have been on his ass.’ That’s why Chris can say that this is the person he is most proud of, and I feel the same way,” the superstar Defender Devin Booker said. “Sometimes you walk on the court and Chris will wait there. “You fucked Chris? Okay, now let me tell him something. We are all in his ears, we are all in him, let him keep all this information and perform at the level he has been performing, which is difficult to express in words.

“He has gone through his stages in his NBA career, but since the start of these playoffs, you have seen his maturity and his growth enter a whole new level. He has been getting better. And he has learned. The will-now, he may not come to me, but will come to me, “What should I do when this happens? “

“There are more things in his tank, and he will show it soon.”

Ayton’s scoring average has declined this season, and he ranks third in the league because the arrival of superstar point guard Chris Paul means Ayton has less offensive responsibility. Ayton averaged 5 shots per game, but his accuracy soared from 54.6% to 62.6%.

With the increasing influence of the playoffs, his stats look like those in Marvel movies: averaging 16.5 points, 12.2 rebounds and 71.1% field goal percentage.

“Allowing Chris and Booker to create opportunities for him certainly helps, but he has done a very good job of understanding angles and screens and completing the basket position at the basket,” Williams said. “And he is just one of them there. Sometimes they have to let two people run to him and keep him away from the rebounds, which allows our wing to pick up some offensive rebounds.”

Ever since Patrick Ewing of the Georgetown team was sent to the Knicks in the first NBA draft in 1985, seeing those ping pong balls popping up normally has always been an obsession of fans seeking relief from the depths of the league. But if Ayton can help the Suns complete this championship, he will only be the third pick in the lottery era to win the championship with his team in the first five seasons. The other two have another No. 1 pick on the roster: Tim Duncan of the Spurs has David Robinson, and Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers has LeBron James.

Therefore, players who were considered too big for the game proved to be ideal for the Suns.

“I’m very happy that he played well. I’m very happy that he influenced the game in different ways. It’s not just an offense. In some games, he influenced the game on the defensive end and covered up many of the mistakes we made. Usually, Young big men need longer time, but again I think playing with Chris, playing with Devin, the work done by DA and coach Mark Bryant really helped him.

“He is a talented player. He has the ability to rebound and finish offense under the basket, and then there is a big man who can come forward and take free throws. We don’t take this for granted. He will be the first to tell you… …This is a game, and we still have a lot of work to do.”

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