In his third season with the Suns, Deandre Ayton has become a key figure in the championship contender. But it is important to remember that he will turn 23 years old later this month, so rough training will hit Ayton more than an experienced veteran.
In Phoenix’s 118-108 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday night, Suns coach Monty Williams could feel the frustration of his big man. Ayton did not exert his usual influence in the first three quarters of the second game. Williams knew it was his job to get Ayton out of fear.
ABC shared an inspiring conversation between Williams and Ayton:
“This is the deal. One, if you don’t have Giannis, you will go back to the transition period. [Antetokounmpo], Find someone to be the guard. Two-look at me-you set a high level for yourself. This is the reason why you are depressed. That’s great. Go to that level now, okay? You can reach it hard. It does not have to be statistical data all the time. Dominate the game hard, okay? Because you set yourself a high level. Dominate the game with strength. Let’s go. “
Ayton responded with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in the final quarter. In a post-match interview with NBA TV, Ayton scored his 13th double-double (10 points and 11 rebounds) in a playoff victory, and he praised Williams for recognizing that he needed a little improvement.
“I didn’t play the way I wanted, especially trying to complete the offense at the basket. I didn’t rebound the way I wanted, which affected me a bit,” Ayton said. “But I have been persevering and working hard to find the best thing I can do for the team. Monty saw this in me. I was a little emotional, but he stopped me-because he knew me. ——He just wanted to say a word of encouragement to me, which allows me to move on.”
“He just wanted to give me a word of encouragement, which allows me to move on.”
Ayton discussed the inspiring talk of head coach Monty Williams in the second game. pic.twitter.com/7uAGWYMVoc
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 9, 2021
With the NBA Finals moving to Milwaukee in Game 3 and Game 4, the Suns need the same strength and intensity as Ayton. If a coach like Williams is in his corner, Ayton shouldn’t be too difficult to reach that level again.