PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Deandre Ayton taking advantage of bubble experience, vet leaders

Dec 18, 2020, 11:53 AM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton said he got a real good look at what it takes to be a professional in the league during the team’s NBA bubble run.

Ayton never knew the true meaning of professionalism or what consistency really was until he left the Orlando bubble.

Now, with that experience under his belt, and the addition of veterans like Chris Paul, the center is working his tail off in preparation to be the best version of himself in 2020-21.

“I love it, I understand the pressure on my shoulders,” Ayton told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Friday. “I can hold a lot on my shoulders, I’ve been carrying a lot since I stepped foot in the U.S. as a basketball player and it’s just something I go by. Just holding that constructive criticism and just taking the best message out of it and not worrying about how people say things.

“Chris Paul, [Devin Booker] and coach Monty [Williams], they’ve been on me running the floor, being that presence. That’s the biggest thing for me right now is just being that presence on both ends of the floor, especially as the defensive anchor and being responsible for so many things. I embrace it and I love it. It just makes me wake up every morning knowing I have a job, I have a big job.”

And while Paul will use his NBA experience to transform Ayton into a better hooper, the center has been more than proactive in picking the point guard’s brain.

Whether it’s working on angles on pick and rolls or reading the court better, Ayton is right there with Paul studying the tape.

“Nobody in the NBA has really sat down with me player-to-player and really tried to teach me,” Ayton said. “I feel so honored and blessed, I have a future Hall-of-Famer in Chris Paul just trying to teach me, willing to teach me, reminding me of [film sessions].

“I’m on him, too. I really asked him to watch film with me. … I was just so locked in. I never felt so locked in other than a pop quiz in college. It was just phenomenal. I embraced it, I loved it.”

Paul isn’t just helping Ayton, either, as the center is providing good information on what he is viewing around the rim. It only adds to the chemistry the duo are already building.

The film sessions should ultimately make Ayton a bigger threat offensively.

In 38 games (32 starts) last season, Ayton averaged 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He played 32.5 minutes a night and shot 55% from the field and 75% from the charity stripe. He showed he could be that rim-rocking big man that the team drafted him to be.

Now with a floor general capable of making the most of Ayton’s abilities, the sky’s the limit for the young big man.

Of Paul’s teachings, however, it’s evident he and the team want Ayton to be a defensive force in the league. At 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, he certainly has the traits. The added confidence will only aid in his progression.

“Very natural, aggression is very natural to me. I’m Domin-Ayton,” Ayton said. “Once we’re competing every day and competing at this type of level, it’s aggression every day.

“Whether it’s offense, defense, it don’t matter. I’m a solid basketball player all around to where I love to compete.”

Penguin Air

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Reggie Bullock #25 of the Dallas Maver...
Dan Bickley

NBA schedule gives Devin Booker, Suns an early shot at redemption

The Phoenix Suns will be able to get their first shot at redemption against the Dallas Mavericks when the 2022-23 season gets underway.
1 day ago
Follow @KellanOlson...
Kellan Olson

ASU product Josh Christopher stars in Rockets’ schedule release skit

Every year, there is going to be a team that releases its schedule in a unique way. Sometimes they hit. Sometimes they don't.
1 day ago
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, drives as Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson defen...
Associated Press

Reports: LeBron James signs 2-year extension with L.A. Lakers

LeBron James has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension through the 2024-25 season with the L.A. Lakers,
2 days ago
Jae Crowder #99, Chris Paul #3, Mikal Bridges #25 and Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns react d...
Kellan Olson

Initial impressions, observations from Phoenix Suns’ 2022-23 schedule

A few areas of the Phoenix Suns' 82-game schedule we can spotlight to keep an eye on throughout the regular season.
2 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns celebrates with Deandre Ayton #22 during the first half of Game...
Arizona Sports

Phoenix Suns’ 2022-23 schedule includes 22 national TV games

The Phoenix Suns' 2022-23 regular season schedule dropped on Wednesday highlighted by 22 games on ABC, ESPN or TNT, plus 12 more on NBATV.
2 days ago
(Screenshot/Bally Sports)...
Arizona Sports

Bally Sports+ streaming service announces launch date in September

Bally Sports announced the launch of a new streaming service for the Suns, Coyotes and regional college sports coming Sept. 26.
2 days ago
Suns’ Deandre Ayton taking advantage of bubble experience, vet leaders