Could Deandre Ayton see time at power forward with Frank Vogel at the helm?
Jul 6, 2023, 7:54 AM
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Most fans of the NBA do not mistake Deandre Ayton and Anthony Davis for the other.
Both were No. 1 picks. After that, the similarities end.
One is an eight-time NBA All-Star who has been named to four All-NBA First Teams and four NBA All-Defensive Teams and also won the 2020 NBA Finals.
The other was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2019 and in 2021 helped lead his team to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993.
Davis is the former and Ayton the latter.
But they do have one other similarity in common.
They both think they are power forwards.
And, as Davis was able to experience when he played for now-Suns coach Frank Vogel, Ayton might get to play there. The question is at least worth bringing up with Ayton set to play for his third NBA head coach.
For those that might not remember, Davis always wanted to play at power forward and was able to finally get his wish – sort of – when he left the New Orleans Hornets and joined the Los Angeles Lakers and Vogel in 2019.
“I like playing the four. I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I like playing the four. I don’t really like playing the five,” Davis told Tania Ganguli of the LA Times in 2019.
Lakers vice president of basketball ops Rob Pelinka backed the strategy.
“We want a decade of dominance out of him here, right? So we got to do what’s best for his body, and having him bang against the biggest centers in the West every night is not what’s best for his body or for our team and the franchise,” Pelinka said.
And Vogel agreed, explaining in 2021 why having the 6-foot-10 Davis next to a true center would help his squad.
“Defensive size for one,” Vogel explained. “We’re going to play second-shot offense. We don’t want to just get five guys back every time and get one-shot offense every time down.”
Hmmmm. One has to wonder if Vogel’s philosophy has changed. Just imagine the “defensive size” of the Suns with Ayton, Kevin Durant and another 6-foot-10-plus body (Drew Eubanks or Chimezie Metu) on the floor.
How does Suns president of basketball operations and general manager James Jones feel about such a scenario?
Well, if his comments from 2019 are an indication, Jones might have been waiting for that to be an option for the Suns.
As ArizonaSports.com’s Kellan Olson reported in 2019 as the Monty Williams regime was tipping off, Jones said he was open to it on a podcast.
And Ayton? Like Davis, he felt he’d been playing out of position.
“Ahh! I heard the word! That’s college back all over again,” he said. “That’s my born-and-raised position is the power forward.”
Is that why Eubanks and Metu were picked over Jock Landale, providing more defensive versatility to play next to Ayton?
Since Vogel was hired, the head coach has attached the label All-Star talent to Ayton — but as a two-way center. The Suns have valued keeping Ayton despite trade rumors, but is that valuation based on Ayton taking more responsibility because the team believes his offensive upside is left untapped?
If the move does happen, it will likely be run out there when the matchups call for it and it adds a competitive advantage.
If the Suns do make it an option, it will likely be as derided as it was when Vogel did it with Anthony Davis and the Lakers.
But it could happen. And maybe it could help the Suns win an NBA championship. Maybe if Ayton wishes upon a star, all his dreams might come true.