PHOENIX SUNS

NBA.com: Suns’ Ayton, McGee enter 2022 as top-10 rim protectors

Jan 2, 2022, 10:00 AM
Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots while defended by Deandre Ayton #22 of the P...
Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots while defended by Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half at Moda Center on December 14, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

NBA.com devised a list of the top-10 rim protectors in the league so far this season entering 2022.

The list was made using opposing field goal percentage at the rim with a minimum of four shots per game and 10 contests played.

45 players qualify as of Jan. 1, and two Suns are in the top-10: centers JaVale McGee at No. 4 and Deandre Ayton at No. 6.

McGee is allowing 49.3% of shots at the rim to fall this year. Only Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Memphis Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. have better numbers.

The Suns allow 99.3 points per 100 possessions with McGee in the game, according to NBA.com.

His defensive rating per 100 possessions is the best of his career, proving to be a slam dunk addition by general manager James Jones last offseason.

Ayton is at 51.1%, a career-high and major improvement from his 64.9% clip as a rookie.

He was No. 10 on the list when it published on Thursday, but has since moved up despite being in health and safety protocols.

McGee is also in the protocols, leading to Phoenix officially signing veteran center Bismack Biyombo on Saturday.

Ayton is also a top-10 scorer in the paint at 14.2 points per game. He only trails Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Antetokounmpo and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant on that list.

The Suns are currently second in the NBA in defensive rating and the ability to protect the rim better than past years has a lot to do with it.

Phoenix allows a 60.6% field goal percentage from five feet and in, eighth-best in the league. The last time the Suns finished in the top-10 in this metric was the 2001-02 season before Amar’e Stoudemire was even drafted.

It takes a team effort to do this, but McGee’s addition and Ayton’s development have helped the Suns lock down what had not been a strength in a long time.

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NBA.com: Suns’ Ayton, McGee enter 2022 as top-10 rim protectors