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Revenge ambitions make DeAndre Ayton a Suns mainstay

Revenge ambitions make DeAndre Ayton a Suns mainstay

In the first playoff game for the Suns in the 2021-22 season, Deandre Ayton played against the Pelicans to continue the momentum of the playoffs last season. He scored 21 points on 10 of 15 shots, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks from outside. The pinnacle of the sun. 

In the first playoff game for the Suns in the 2021-22 season, Deandre Ayton played against the Pelicans to continue the momentum of the playoffs last season. He scored 21 points on 10 of 15 shots, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks from outside. The pinnacle of the sun.

Revenge ambitions make DeAndre Ayton a Suns mainstay

The Suns reached the finals last season. Ayton averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and 66% shooting, and even more than 70% shooting in 10 games. Good performance and state encouraged Ayton, but the goddess of victory did not care for the sun until the last moment. , the championship lost to the Bucks.

Losing a championship game is the most painful feeling, Ayton said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. It’s like a knife stabbing right in the chest. I think about it every day after the loss, and revenge has become a part of my training. and motivation to play.

God knows we’re ready for the playoffs this season.

In the 2021-22 playoffs, Ayton has shown more prominent influence and statistics. Currently, he is averaging 19.2 points, 9 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 65.3% shooting per game. Except for rebounds, Ayton has surpassed the regular season, even three points. The ball is 50% from the field (0.4 attempts per game).

Once upon a time, Ayton went from a young rookie to the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, ahead of Trae Young and Luka Dončić, but had an ups and downs early in his career, and even received a 25-game suspension for doping violations the following year. Although he maintained an average of double-ten figures per game, he was often pushed to the bench at critical moments in the fourth quarter. When the players after him in the draft have risen and exerted more influence and captured the limelight, Ayton seems to have no outstanding masterpieces except for the normal evaluation.

However, in the past two seasons, after Chris Paul joined, Ayton’s style of play hit it off. Although the Suns have two offensive cores, Paul and Devin Booker, Ayton has become an indispensable core of the Suns’ success in the past two seasons.

Every year is a process, and he’s getting better every year along the way, said Suns assistant coach Mark Bryant, who has been in the league for 15 years and has worked closely with Ayton since joining Monty Williams’ coaching staff in 2019. Ayton is averaging 17.8 points and 10.2 rebounds this season while shooting a career-best 63.4 percent from the field. Although the stats are not particularly bright, it can’t fully show that Ayton has grown into a first-class and all-round mature center.

Last year I didn’t think I was even a threat, Ayton said. Unless I got the ball easily in the paint, my opponents wouldn’t look at me very much. But I did a lot of short pick-and-rolls and dislocation offense this offseason. The game is easier and freer for me.

In 2021-22, Ayton has learned from playoff setbacks and realized that opponents will try to limit him to the penalty area, so more countermeasures must be added. Therefore, the off-season training program includes hook shots, drop shots, mid-range jumpers and footsteps. After continuous practice with Bryant, he has far surpassed a limited center who eats cakes.

The pick-and-roll of Ayton and Paul is already one of the unstoppable combinations in the league. Among players with at least 3 screens per game in the regular season, Ayton ranks third in efficiency behind Rudy Gobert and Domantas Sabonis at 1.25 points per possession, better than MVP candidates Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić , which also shows that his training effect is excellent:

  • Ayton ranks second among players with 3.5 or more elbow touches per game, ahead of top scorers like Karl-Anthony Towns and Kevin Durant.
  • Ayton ranks 3rd in field goal percentage among players with 3 or more head-toss attempts in the off-screen paint, ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dončić 9, higher than Embiid and Jokić).
  • Ayton shot 45.2 percent from mid-range, better than Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell.
  • Ayton’s boxed singles outscored Antetokounmpo, Towns, Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo per possession.

He knows how to get to where he’s most comfortable, said Cam Payne, who has had plenty of opportunities to pair with Ayton this season. He’s working on the same shot every day, even though he’s very confident. We’re both Call him a mid-range player because his shot has improved so much, he can score by just roaming around the box.

Ayton’s success is largely due to Paul’s guidance. Paul is the top pick-and-roll master in the league, and most of the long-term partners in his career can become extremely threatening existences under his leadership. However, Ayton and Paul’s long-standing players in the past compared other scoring methods, such as DeAndre Jordan and Clint Capela. Although the sample size is small, it also proves that Paul is not needed now, and Ayton is still a scoring threat on the court.

Revenge ambitions make DeAndre Ayton a Suns mainstay

After the All-Star break to 3/23, Paul missed that period (15 games) due to a hand injury. Monty Williams told Ayton to play like a grown man during this time. Ayton averaged 18.5 points per game after the All-Star Game (16.5 before the All-Star Game), plus-minus 9 (4.2 before the All-Star Game), improved his shooting efficiency in the restricted area, off-area paint, and elbow area, and his offensive efficiency and overall efficiency were also higher than Highs of 7.7 and 6.8 before the All-Star Game.

Despite Paul’s lack of guidance, Ayton’s screening, attacking skills and ball-handling skills can now be maintained, or even surpassed, no matter who the point guard is.

Bryant also praised the apparent growth of the apprentice, last season Paul and Booker had to be on the court to Ayton from time to time, reminding him what to do. And now that the long-term partnership with the top playmaker has finally come to fruition, even playing with a guard like Payne who has few predictable passes will not weaken Ayton’s influence.

He’s completely mastered the best time to cut in and catch the air around defenders. He also knows the best position to stay in the pocket and that’s where he’s improved the most. He knows how to find moments that are fleeting. Payne He said that he thinks Ayton can now coordinate with guards with different attributes to set corresponding screens and positions, Especially when he is on the court with me, he will stay in the pocket because I like fast breaks and then distribute the ball to the follow-up trailer. , which makes it difficult for the defender to follow me or stop him. The smarter he is, the easier it is to score.

Playing with one of the best guards of all time (Paul) gave me a lot of confidence, he would give me chicken soup every now and then and tell me I could do anything, Ayton said. Can set up all kinds of screens and make different players run comfortably.

In addition to the skills developed by training, the accumulation of experience is also important. Last season, Ayton played against Anthony Davis, Jokić and Antetokounmpo on both ends of the floor. His ability to handle a variety of defensive tasks is his greatest strength in the modern NBA. He can defend the rim in the paint, and can keep up with the speed and footwork to drive them back to the perimeter. At the same time, it can also single-handedly defend star players of the same position and size.

According to official NBA data, against the Lakers in the first round of the 2020-21 season, Ayton limited Davis’ shooting percentage to 37.5%, and against Jokic in the second round only 42.2%. In Ayton’s defensive round against Jokic, Gold Nugget only scored 0.97 points . Jokic also praised Ayton for being one of the most effective players on one-man defense. Antetokounmpo was on a killing spree in the Finals, but Ayton was able to contain him, reducing his shooting percentage to 50.7%, a 6.2% drop from the playoff average (Ayton’s plus-minus was +9 for the entire series).

Revenge ambitions make DeAndre Ayton a Suns mainstay

Now we can put DA on anything, Bryant said. You can put him on high screens and you can switch him, it’s important that the team can adjust the defense without getting into dislocations. It’s hard to find him in the league. The same player, with great athleticism and size, and still growing.

Athletic ability is not Ayton’s only defensive password. The biggest difference between him and the early days of his career is that he now clearly knows the defensive range. He is preparing the main scoring method against the opponent every day, constantly asking me questions, and then simulating various situations and targeting opponents. Get used to being prepared, Bryant said.

Ayton will be a restricted free agent this summer, and his evolution has put the Suns in the real challenge of overpaying for a center who lacks the means to score on his own and who is benefiting from a Hall of Fame guard who usually doesn’t end well, but Ayton has already On offense and defense, he has proved that he will not lose his influence because the guard is not Paul.

I’m so happy for him, I’m finally seeing him show his full potential, Payne said. He’s always going to have contract issues, but be prepared and take the opportunity to play at a high level, and I can’t wait to see him sign an appointment.

But the one who seems to be least concerned about the contract right now is Ayton himself, who has put his contract on the back burner after failing to renew his contract early for the season. Now Ayton’s motivation is to wash away the pain of being beaten by the Bucks in the championship last season, and it is also the source of motivation for him to train hard, and hope to make it to the championship again, adjusting all the details to the best.

I’m trying to show everyone that I’m not at the level of last season, Ayton said. After losing the championship game last season, I was 110% committed, I worked hard and kept working hard and maintaining a sense of urgency and urgency. Aggressive, without a shred of slack until the goal is achieved.

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