The Deandre Ayton expertise has been a curler coaster for the Phoenix Suns. The middle was taken first total within the 2018 NBA Draft and flashed his potential as a big, nimble massive man with a deft scoring contact early on. Ayton performed a pivotal function within the Suns’ run to the Finals in 2021 as an enormous who might change onto guards and punish smaller groups along with his scoring contact and rebounding.
Nevertheless, Ayton’s phenomenal playoff run did materialize right into a max extension supply heading into the ultimate yr of his rookie deal. The contract state of affairs hovered over the Suns all season, and the yr ended with Ayton getting benched throughout an embarrassing Sport 7 loss at residence within the Western Convention Semis towards the Dallas Mavericks.
The Suns would ultimately match a suggestion that Ayton obtained as a restricted free agent, however the Sport 7 loss appeared to create important friction between Ayton and head coach Monty Williams. At coaching camp, Ayton instructed reporters that he and Williams didn’t converse to 1 one other all the summer season. And whereas Ayton put up 18 factors and 10 rebounds an evening this final season, his relationship with Williams was a constant storyline for Phoenix all year long.
Williams was fired and changed by Frank Vogel, and on Tuesday, the Suns’ new coach made clear that putting up a relationship with Ayton — whose identify has been on the commerce block since, primarily, the beginning of the offseason — is a precedence.
« I believe he could be among the finest facilities within the league. … There are nonetheless areas that he can develop offensively, however I am intent on actually connecting with him and restoring him to an All-Star degree participant. »
Suns HC Frank Vogel on Deandre Ayton pic.twitter.com/NDooEjJcCQ
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 6, 2023
Vogel has status for teaching up gifted massive man. In Indiana, he reworked Roy Hibbert into one of many league’s greatest rim protectors. In Los Angeles, Anthony Davis performed a few of his greatest basketball beneath Vogel en path to a championship in 2020. Ayton has the bodily instruments to be one of many league’s high bigs, however for one cause or one other, he has by no means constantly performed with the physicality and focus required to turn out to be elite. If Vogel desires to reach Phoenix, he must determine learn how to get Ayton to do exactly that.