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Suns’ Deandre Ayton: ‘Best feeling in the world’ is doubt from media, fans

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Deandre Ayton is used to all this by now.

The No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft was highly critiqued for being just that at the time, and it will only continue with All-Stars Luka Doncic and Trae Young picked after him.

On top of that, the Phoenix Suns’ franchise center plays in a way that inspires debate. His overwhelming athleticism and size combine with skill and finesse, the latter of which he has leaned in favor of more than some would like.

He didn’t do himself any favors either when testing positive for a diuretic and being suspended 25 games this season.

So, it’s safe to say Ayton’s got some decent armor built up by now to prevent any outside criticism from getting to him. And in fact, it’s a huge motivator for him.

“That’s the best feeling in the world to me,” he said Thursday regarding doubters.

“I’ve been in the dirt in the media. Me, I think I’m on my way on closing the media’s mouth shut completely in a way for them to rock with me. Not that I want them to rock with me but that’s just the right thing to do.”

This is certainly a window for Ayton to force more of that shutting up. The Suns are 2.5 games out of a spot in the Western Conference’s play-in for the eighth seed with eight games to do it.

The timing is there, as Ayton has already had a run of spectacular form over a small stretch of the season. He was dominant in some games on both ends of the floor, posting at least 25 points and 15 rebounds in six of his last 20 games. Reaching that level of play again over two weeks would cement his status across the league as a force to beware for the 2020-21 season.

But regardless, Ayton said he’s used to a certain added amount of apprehension from experts on himself and his team.

“We know how the media is when it comes to the Suns,” he said.

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