From tip-off you can see right away if Ayton is ready to play hard or ready to relax. The posture is the biggest giveaway with his shoulders pinned back. Leading to If he responds well to pick-and-rolls or grabbing the defensive rebound and pushing the pace is the second giveaway. The last giveaway to me is if he has a sweaty scowl on his face or not.
During the greatest stretch of four games in his young career, Ayton looked reliable and became a leader.
vs. Memphis Grizzlies: 18 PTS, 16 REB
vs. Houston Rockets: 26 PTS, 17 REB, 5 BLK
vs. Denver Nuggets (2 games avg.): 22 PTS, 13 REB 1 BLK
Even if Ayton had his hands on his knees and was huffing and puffing, as soon as the whistle blew and the ball was handed over by the ref, he was ready to go. Four games in a row we saw that and the Suns only managed to pull off a 1-3 record. Now that Ayton has finally found himself in the offense, he easily became trustworthy with the ball in his hands. He was the one yelling at teammates but then retracted to the little brother again against the Thunder.
How did Ayton look last night vs the Golden State Warriors? Let’s hope he starts with good vibes and ends it that way as we go back-in-forth between “trade him!” and “crown him!” Suns fans know the drill.
Ayton looked to be in a hurry to get to his spots on defense. Something that he was missing in the Thunder game.
His body placement in the paint left him ready to catch the ball and go to work and on the defensive end he was hunting down the rebounds to limit the second chance points from an offense in the Warriors that were really beginning to find themselves.
Already, you can see the enthusiasm to himself and the team started out right.
After the first timeout of the game by the Warriors, Ayton had trouble with the pick in roll, but it didn’t matter because he put himself in great position to grab the offensive rebound. Can Ayton and Chris Paul just be 100% on the pick-and-roll by now?
His awareness becomes a little slow still and already gassed. He is The Always Tired Player in the NBA. No one ever looks as tired as him.
James Wiseman (C), who is now coming in off the bench for the Warriors, is ready to battle Ayton. Wiseman’s confidence and enthusiasm on the court gives him an edge in learning the game. His skills are limited but he looks ready to learn.
Ayton played 8 minutes to end his first stint, scoring 6 and grabbing 4 rebounds along with two assists.
How was his body language in the first quarter?
Not too impressed… he is playing a little bit better than what we saw against the Thunder Wednesday night. He is in a better position on the floor to grab boards and on the offensive end, but his thoughts of what he should do is taking too long. Mismatches all night long should lead to his head held high and to the free throw line… I hope.
Ayton Starts off the second quarter with a travel. Something he sometimes gets away with but not this time… a lot of standing there and staring. A mismatch here or there and Ayton doesn’t WANT the ball. He is asking for it, but doesn’t WANT it. Now I am thinking… this is the old Ayton again. I can already hear the tweets going off about trading him.
Out of the timeout, Ayton is late getting over to the screen for Paul and running plays into his defender. Any body that gets in Ayton's way is a roadblock.
Uh oh, his shoulders are back and ready to play defense on every possession… you can kind of start seeing that scowl on his face… not as sweaty as I want to see, but it is almost there.
Taller than any man out there, Ayton is ready to put the ball back in the hoop on the offensive end grabbing loose ends and grabbing his third offensive rebound as he heads to the bench for what might be the remainder of the first half.
Back in at the three minute mark, let’s see if Ayton finishes the first half strong.
The turnaround looks good on the first move Ayton makes to take the advantage of shooting over anyone in the NBA. Any time the first move is quick and solid, he is putting his body in better position to score from anywhere in the paint.
First free-throws for Ayton came on a lob attempt from Paul, this is the third attempt by Ayton to throw down a lob but is 0-3 as he looks hesitant to the rim leaving the passes empty and missed. What is he questioning about himself? He should be comfortable going into halftime knowing that he hasn’t played to his full potential.
Handling Wiseman on defense is easy as Ayton only guarded him a couple times but knows the rookie is very raw at the moment.
After the first half, how was the body language?
It was better and you can tell he was saving some energy. He was able to hold himself up and looked more in-tune to the game plan. Eventually helping Paul with solid screens and working on the boards. Ayton knows this matchup is cake against the Warriors, but will he take advantage in the second half?
Stats at the half: 12 PTS on 5-6 shooting and 11 REB
The second half begins and Ayton is beginning to touch the ball more. “Stopping putting the ball down in the paint!” as he gets the ball ripped out of his hands.
Next, a power move by moving his man in front of him and drawing the foul on the next possession to make me happy again for the 10th time. You can see that Ayton will be getting the ball more often going forward (no he doesn’t the rest of the 3rd qtr). The quick decision making is his process of asking teammates to give him the ball because he knows what to do with it.
I would like for Ayton to touch the ball every possession. He is our point guard right now with Paul not able to create anything. Raise those arms and demand the ball! Paul does not like giving him the ball. He will stare at Ayton for 10 seconds before deciding to just shoot a jumper.
Ayton is gaining my trust now… the flow is there and looks good for him going into the 4th quarter even with only 2 points in the 3rd quarter as he picks up his 3rd foul and heads to the bench.
Body language after three quarters?
The stats are not great (0 PTS, 1 REB) but body language looked good. He was starting to move bodies underneath the basket leading to better positioning offensively and defensively. The only thing that needs to improve is the need to want the ball. Draymond Green has been a factor but instilling fear, but just drop the ball over his head, right?
His bench presence was stellar with the standing and the clapping as he remains on the bench with the Suns up 102-83 with 6:27 left in the game. Frank Kaminski tells Ayon “I got this” and Ayton continues the astonishing clapping from the bench.
The Suns bench ends the game getting them a blow-out victory.
Final body language grade: B-
I was not amused by the step back that Ayton continues to take, but tonight he did manage to put up the good stats, even if he did not play a minute in the fourth quarter (because of the great play by Frank Kaminsky and his band of misfit brothers).