EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Deandre Ayton had a ‘vision’ Ricky Rubio would return to Suns in Orlando

Jul 23, 2020, 9:57 AM

Ricky Rubio #11 of the Phoenix Suns high fives Deandre Ayton #22 after scoring against the Houston ...

Ricky Rubio #11 of the Phoenix Suns high fives Deandre Ayton #22 after scoring against the Houston Rockets during the second half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 07, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

On top of being a double-double machine, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton can also see the future.

After a shootaround for the team’s return to action with a Thursday scrimmage against the Utah Jazz, Ayton said he had a dream about his point guard Ricky Rubio, who was late to arrive in Orlando because of the coronavirus.

“It’s so funny. The morning before Ricky got there (and) I saw him in the training room, I actually had a dream like, ‘Yo, where is this dude at?’ And the next morning, I’m in the training room, I see Ricky getting ready for practice taping I’m like, ‘What the heck? Bro, you have no idea. I just used my vision that you’re going to be here,'” Ayton said.

Rubio’s first practice with the team was on Tuesday, which certainly had to be a delight for the young big man.

“He made practice very easy,” Ayton said. “Just knowing our personnel, getting us in the right spots when we be playing our 5-on-0 or scrimmaging a little bit against each other — just giving us different looks on offense that we don’t see normally. Just teaching us the game.”

Ayton and Rubio’s chemistry together as a pick-and-roll duo started to flourish after the All-Star break, when the two had a conversation on the way to their first game back.

“All that started on the plane. I told him we could be the best offensive pick-and-roll duo in the league,” Ayton said on Feb. 26.

“He just sat me down with some film, he and (assistant) coach Darko (Rajakovic). Just reading how people guard Ricky, setting the screens and really getting out of the screen and trusting him that he’s gonna throw the ball up for me and just make the right play, to be honest.”

In the next three games, Rubio had 15 of his 32 assists go the way of Ayton, including seven of 10 in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Rubio was operating like he had a much better understanding of where to find Ayton, which might have also been about Rubio and Rajakovic telling him where to go, too.

Since Ayton is rolling hard here, Rubio knows he can delay until a passing lane to the big fella opens up.

And if someone as large and athletic as Ayton with awesome hands is around the rim enough, a passer like Rubio will find him.

The two didn’t get to explore this much further, as Ayton only played three more games before suffering a bone bruise in his ankle that forced him to sit out the rest of the team’s games before the season was paused in mid-March.

Finding that groove with his floor general is something Ayton can look forward to in the Suns’ three scrimmages, which he said aren’t about conditioning like they could be for other teams.

“This has been the hardest training camp of my career, I’m not even going to lie to you,” Ayton said. “Coach really stepped it up conditioning-wise and mentally as well.”

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