Suns’ Devin Booker, Chris Paul proud of Deandre Ayton’s postseason leap

Jun 4, 2021, 1:04 AM | Updated: 1:35 am

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)...

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

After guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul, center Deandre Ayton is the third piece in the Phoenix Suns big three.

In his third year in the NBA, the former Arizona Wildcat won the first playoff series of his career after Thursday night’s 113-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6.

And coming into the postseason, the question wasn’t necessarily if Ayton could step up — he’s shown glimpses of having that ability — but rather if the Suns center could sustain that excellence over the course of a playoff series.

Ayton averaged 15.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and shot a ridiculous 79.6% from the field over the course of the six-game series with the Lakers.

“Having a conversation with Deandre and seeing the leap that he made during this series — nobody is harder on DA than I am,” Suns guard Devin Booker said postgame. “It’s been like that for a few years.

“So I know he has a lot of different voices in his ear between me, coach (Monty Williams) and Chris (Paul). I know he’s hearing a lot. I just told him I was so proud of him for seeing the leap and we still have a lot of work to do. We didn’t come into the season to say we want to win one series and be done. We have a lot of work to do.”

Paul noted postgame that Lakers forward LeBron James was able to get downhill and drive to the rim pretty easily at times.

The Suns point guard added that James will play “bully ball” against smaller defenders, but the likes of Ayton in the paint forced him to kick out to his Laker teammates along the perimeter.

“DA was a beast. It’s almost like he was like to hell with the regular season — just let the playoffs get here,” Paul said. “With the team that we have, I wouldn’t rather be here and win with a different group of guys. All these guys deserve it and I’m happy for them.”

With the Suns advancing to the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets, Ayton will get a chance to go up against MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.

That series begins on Monday night as Game 1 tips off at 7 p.m. at Phoenix Suns Arena.

Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Phoenix Suns

Bobi Klintman  of the Taipans in action during the round 13 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Me...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Bobi Klintman could be Suns’ big wing in 2024 NBA Draft

If the Phoenix Suns want a bigger wing in the 2024 NBA Draft, Bobi Klintman is a headliner in the back of the first round.

3 hours ago

Charles Barkley looks on prior to game three of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Ce...

Kellan Olson

Charles Barkley says next season will be his last on television

Long-time NBA analyst for TNT Charles Barkley revealed on NBA TV Friday night that next season will be his last on television.

17 hours ago

Jaime Jaquez Jr. #11 of the Miami Heat is guarded by Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Golden State Warrior...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Can Suns find rare instant contributor in NBA Draft?

There is no doubting the value it would bring the Phoenix Suns to select a player in the NBA Draft who was a long-term part of what they do.

1 day ago

Cam Payne's mug shot after an arrest in Scottsdale...

Arizona Sports

Former Suns PG Cam Payne arrested in Scottsdale for refusing to give identity to police

Former Phoenix Suns point guard Cam Payne was arrested for failing to provide Scottsdale Police officers with his name.

1 day ago

Emmanuel Mudiay, Knicks vs. Suns...

Kevin Zimmerman

9 players to know: How the Valley Suns’ G League team can help Phoenix

Let's peek at the Valley Suns G League roster to see which players can help the Phoenix Suns, who is a developmental prospect and more.

1 day ago

General manager James Jones of the Phoenix Suns looks on after the game against the Miami Heat at F...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Suns could triple down by dealing unprotected 2031 pick

The Phoenix Suns have an extra measure they can take this offseason to upgrade the roster, but it would come with real risk.

2 days ago

Suns’ Devin Booker, Chris Paul proud of Deandre Ayton’s postseason leap