Suns’ James Jones excited for Deandre Ayton’s growth with Chris Paul add

Nov 19, 2020, 10:57 AM | Updated: 11:05 am
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns look a whole lot different than they did a week ago.

Gone is Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque and in their place stands veteran floor general Chris Paul.

Paul has a notable reputation of being all things basketball. There’s no horsing around when there’s games to be played.

He may be an All-NBAer who averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists, but it was his style of leadership that Suns general manager James Jones coveted for his young team.

“He’s a guy that’s not going to back down. He’ll be out front, he’s going to lead his team in action, verbally,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Thursday. “He’s a little feisty, we all know that, he likes getting T’ed up a lot. He can talk smack and trash with the best of them, but he’s pure basketball, man. He’s a winner, and the only thing that matters to him is winning for as long as possible.

“His mentality, his approach to the game, being the first one in, the last one out, making sure he’s the last one off the court when you have teammates going through things on the floor. … That’s going to help us tremendously. … If these guys can start to learn what it means to be an elite pro and what it takes to win, I think we’ll be winning for a long time.”

Of the young guns on the roster, Jones feels Paul’s presence will significantly impact the trajectory of Suns big man Deandre Ayton.

Ayton has shown he can be an absolute force in the league. In 38 games (32 starts) last season, Ayton averaged 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He was on the court 32.5 minutes a night and shot 55% from the field and 75% from the charity stripe.

He’s not without his off moments, however, whether it’s a mental lapse on defense or not going full speed at times.

That should be nipped in the bud with Paul’s arrival, while also providing Ayton with a talented point guard who will make him better in all facets of the game.

“Deandre’s never played with a player like Chris. He’s never been this close to what I call superior excellence, and for us, we’re always demanding more,” Jones said. “We’re always looking for ways to help Deandre improve and grow, and he wants that. In order for us to be a really good team, he has to continue on an arc.

“I know they’ll spend a lot of time together. Chris will teach him the ins and outs, the nuances, the point guard-center combo dynamic will help him. … He’s still young in his understanding of being effective in the NBA against NBA length and scheme, but I’m excited for him. It’s going to be the most fun he’ll ever have as a player because we all know the tight ends love their quarterbacks, the wide receivers love their quarterbacks and that’s what you’ll see with those two.”

Paul has thrived with big men on the floor before, a la Lob City with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Multiple playoff appearances and five straight All-Star appearances can attest to that.

He’s now tasked with Ayton, who has the potential to bring a similar presence to the floor under the point guard’s tutelage.

Alley (Oop) in the Valley does have a nice ring to it.

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, is defended by Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covingto...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get pounced on by Blazers in blowout loss

The Suns looked like they were back on the right track after beating the Lakers but they lost that against the Blazers the next night.
3 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) passes as Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (27) pur...
Arizona Sports

Suns G Cameron Payne out Saturday against Trail Blazers

Phoenix Suns backup point guard Cameron Payne will miss Saturday night's game against the Portland Trailer Blazers.
3 days ago
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, right, scores over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis duri...
Associated Press

Lakers’ Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis play down sideline incident

Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis say their confrontation on the Lakers' bench was a momentary disagreement that has already been resolved.
3 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) argues a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game aga...
Kellan Olson

Chris Paul provides ‘jumpstart’ to Suns in bounce-back win over Lakers

Nothing like a little get right game, and that's what the Phoenix Suns got on Friday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
4 days ago
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the second half of the NBA game at Footpr...
Arizona Sports

Chris Paul becomes 1st player with 20,000 points, 10,000 assists in NBA history

Another accolade for Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul, one of the greatest to ever do it at any position.
4 days ago
Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver attends Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint ...
Arizona Sports

Jordan Schultz further details expected report coming on Suns owner Robert Sarver

Sports reporter Jordan Schultz joined Arizona Sports to provide more details on his report of a story coming on Suns owner Robert Sarver.
4 days ago
Suns’ James Jones excited for Deandre Ayton’s growth with Chris Paul add