Before you jump down to the comment section to tear apart the headline, just read me out first.
The 21-year old Deandre Ayton has been quite good this season since returning full time as the starting center for the Phoenix Suns on January 16, 2020 (15 games played).
Ayton’s line over those games: 21.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 2.2 assists. The Suns outscore the opponent by 3 points per game when he is on the court (versus being outscored by a lot when he’s off, for a team that’s 6-9 in those games). His defense has been stellar: he’s still defending the 2nd most shot attempts per game (behind only Rudy Gobert) and he’s allowing the 4th lowest field goal % at any position (43.4%, behind only Gobert, Anthony Davis and Lonzo Ball). He can guard the perimeter, he can track a player to the hoop and he can protect the paint.
Net positive? Check
For games played since January 16:
- Ayton is the only player in the league even averaging 20+ points, 12+ rebounds and 1.5+ blocks per game
- You have to get all the way down to 13 points to get three more qualifiers on 12+ rebounds and 1.5+ blocks: Rudy Gobert, Hassan Whiteside and Jonas Valenciunas.
- You have to get all the way down to 8 rebounds to get two more qualifiers on the other two (20+ points, 1.5+ blocks): Anthony Davis and Kristaps Porzingis
During that time, he’s got a 20/20 game (26 points, 21 rebounds v. Knicks) and has nearly hit 30/20 twice (28 points, 19 rebounds v. Nuggets; 28 points, 19 rebounds v. Bulls). The Suns are 2-1 in those games.
Here’s Saturday night’s game, a win over the Bulls. In that game, Ayton had 10 offensive rebounds, bullying his way to putting the Suns in the lead for good in the 4th quarter with putback after putback of Suns misses.
This is what we need!