PHOENIX SUNS

Suns GM: Deandre Ayton’s play has been ‘uneven’ to start season

Jan 14, 2021, 8:58 AM
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, right, passes as Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee defends du...

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, right, passes as Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

It’s no secret that Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton is not playing at the level he should this season. The eye test says it, as do the numbers.

Through 11 games, Ayton is averaging 12.5 points, 11.3 rebounds 1.8 assists and 1.0 blocks per game. That’s about where his rebounding and assists were last season, while his scoring is down from 18.5 points per game. His blocks have dropped off from 1.5 a night.

Ayton is only taking 9.6 shots a game, a steep drop from 14.9 in 2019-20. His role in the offense as a scorer was expected to change with a more versatile point guard in Chris Paul leading the offense but perhaps not to that extent.

A lot of that can be explained, though, by Ayton’s indecisiveness with the ball in the key. Ayton led the NBA last year in post touches per game at 13.9. That number has decreased to 11.4 this year but is still number two in the league. Ayton as a rookie still managed 16.3 points an outing on 11.1 post touches a night, so the numbers align with the tentativeness we’re seeing.

His postups this season are at 5.4 a game after 5.8 and 6.2 averages his first two seasons, respectively — a slight decline, but not one to suggest a lack of opportunity.

Free throws remain a big issue. Ayton is attempting only 2.3 a game, the same as his averages from last year.

Ayton’s been good as a defender and great as a rebounder, but the lack of offensive impact is evident and drastically changes the type of player he is.

“He’s been uneven,” Suns general manager James Jones said Wednesday on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo. “He knows that. Defensively, he’s been reliable … offensively, he’s been uneven. We need him to be consistent offensively. We need him to look to bolster what we’re doing in the paint. We need more paint touches, more free throws, more easy buckets. And he can do that for us. He hasn’t been doing it at the level at which we expect, that he expects, but that’s a focus for us and him going forward.”

So how does he get better?

“It’s reps. It’s just reps, and coaching,” Jones said. “More reps practicing, working in that area, working in that box, as we call it. Just harping on it. Like everything we do: You have to drill it, you have to talk about how we play, how we wanna play, how we need to play to win games.

“And for us to go to the next level, we need him to continue to grow in that area. So there’s no magic pill, there’s no magic button you press. It just comes with hard coaching and repetition.”

All statistics via NBA.com

Phoenix Suns

Washington Commanders guard Chris Paul works during a rookie minicamp practice at the team's NFL fo...
Haboob Blog

Chris Paul or CP3? Commanders quiz their rookies

Chris Paul, Washington Commanders rookie guard, shares a name and position with Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul.
15 hours ago
Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass against Raja Bell #19 0f the Phoenix Suns in...
Arizona Sports

The 5: Suns to earn 1st Team All-Defense honors before Mikal Bridges

Suns forward Mikal Bridges made the NBA's First Team All-Defense as announced Friday, becoming the first Suns player to do so since 2007.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones speaks to the media regarding the firing of Suns head coac...
Kevin Zimmerman

Phoenix Suns salary cap Q&A for the 2022 offseason

Here's a quick Q&A covering how the Phoenix Suns might navigate this offseason from a financial perspective.
15 hours ago
(Instagram/LeagueFits)...
Jake Anderson

Suns’ Devin Booker wins LeagueFits MVP, Chris Paul named to 2nd Team

Phoenix Suns All-Star guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul were recognized for their drip off the court by LeagueFits on Friday.
4 days ago
Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns steals the ball from Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks ...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns’ Mikal Bridges named to NBA’s 1st Team All-Defense

Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges was named to the NBA's First Team All-Defense, the league announced on Friday.
4 days ago
Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder, center, pass the ball to teammate JaVale McGee (00) as he drives ...
Kevin Zimmerman

Suns’ offseason questions: How Phoenix can remake role player ecology

The Suns could be faced with trading veterans and retooling their bench to save money and better complement Devin Booker and company.
4 days ago
Suns GM: Deandre Ayton’s play has been ‘uneven’ to start season