Former Arizona Wildcat Deandre Ayton is grossly undervalued by the Suns and in the NBA, and ever since Free Agency kicked off, Ayton’s name has been trending.
It is looking more and more like the Suns are not going to sign Deandre Ayton back for a max contract and that is a sad state of affairs in my opinion.
Suns fans have taken our Wildcat for granted as The Suns Report Tweeted, “If DA gets moved, regardless of who starts at center, losing hyper-efficient offense around the rim while providing elite rim protection will be felt immensely next season.”
The latest reports on what Jordan Greer calls the Deandre Ayton “Free agency purgatory,” is that the Indiana Pacers (who drafted Bennedict Mathurin and have TJ McConnell on their roster already) have spoken to the 6-foot-11 center.
Brian Windhorst said on July 11th, that the Pacers have opened up cap space with the Malcolm Brogdan trade. “We believe that the Indiana Pacers are very close to giving Deandre Ayton an offer sheet or executing a sign-and-trade…We could see something with the Pacers and Ayton as early as today [on the max deal he wants].”
Only time will tell, but we are still shocked that Deandre Ayton, only 23 years old, is undervalued by the Suns and is not being sought after by more teams.
Being drafted as the No. 1 draft pick by a team who was once at the bottom of the list of wins and losses has its struggles. Just ask Derrick Williams. But Deandre has made the best of it and his stats have shown just how much he has contributed to the Suns’ Franchise over the last four seasons.
Before joining the Suns in 2018, the team was led by then-head coach Earl Watson. The Suns went 21-61 in 2017-18. But it only got worse from there.
The Suns had the No. 1 pick, they drafted the local product in Deandre Ayton, and they hired Igor Kokoškov as head coach, but things were a disaster as the team went just 19-63, and got even worse losing three times as many games as they won. And who got blamed?
Deandre Ayton got the brunt of the angst, of course, because fans falsely assume that No. 1 draft picks are supposed to save the Franchise, but we all know one superstar cannot save a team. Devin Booker (the 13th pick in 2015) had been the first great hope.
In his rookie year, Ayton recorded 39 double-doubles (mind-boggling since he was inactive for 11 games), averaging 16.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1 block, and .7 steals.
Then in 2019, the Suns made a great decision. They hired Monty Williams after the franchise had missed its ninth straight playoff bid. The Suns nearly broke even in Williams’ first season (2019-20), finishing 34-39. A stark contrast from the previous two seasons.
However, the team missed the playoffs once again. That said, things were looking up and even though Ayton was suspended 25 games for failing a drug test to begin the season, the Suns were getting better.
In his second season with the Suns, Ayton averaged 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 22 double-doubles (33 games) in the 2019-20 season.
In the off-season before the 2020-2021 season, the Suns made a huge trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, receiving 10-time All-Star and All-NBA Team, 9-time All-Defensive Point Guard, Chris Paul for four players, and a future first-round draft pick.
That made all the difference as the Suns went on to achieve a 51-21 win/loss record. Williams earned the NBCA Coach of the Year award and the Suns made the playoffs, it was the first time in 11 years.
The Suns then beat the Los Angeles Clippers in six games to win the Western Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals, for the first time since 1993. Even though the Suns won the first two games against the Milwaukee Bucks, they lost the series and the Championship.
Ayton started in all 69 games averaging 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in his third season with the Suns including 48 double-doubles. In the playoffs, Deandre shot an effective 64.6 percent from the field.
Last season (2021-22), the Suns continued to perform at a high level, winning an NBA-leading 64 games, and losing just 18 games en route to earning the top spot in the Western Conference and the NBA in the regular season.
The team set a franchise record for wins after beating the Los Angeles Lakers on April 5th which eliminated LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Carmello Anthony from the playoffs to make it a super sweet victory.
The Suns’ season included an 18-game win streak and stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul earned a reserve spot for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.
However, the team disappointed fans after they beat the New Orleans Pelicans in six games in the first round of the playoffs, before losing to the Dallas Mavericks in seven games despite taking an early, 2-0 series lead.
Ayton, in the 2021-22 season averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 0.7 blocks, earning 30 double-doubles in 58 games.
Overall, Ayton played extremely well in the playoffs, but it wasn’t enough and the hopeful Suns fans were sour after the glorious regular season.
Again, the fans don’t understand how efficient Ayton is, consider this analysis.
It is unfortunate that the Ayton era in Phoenix is coming to an unceremonious end; however, on the flip side, wouldn’t it be fun to see TJ McConnell, Bennedict Mathurin, and Deandre Ayton on the same team playing together? I guess we will see what happens in the coming days or weeks!