Suns Center Deandre Ayton Due For Big Season – Sports Illustrated

Despite all the offseason drama circulating around Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, is he due for a true breakout season?
Throughout the 2021-22 campaign questions swirled on whether it was worth it the Suns to give Ayton a max contract at season's end when he was set to become a restricted free agent.
It didn't make matters any better when the Suns were eliminated from the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks, topped by Ayton registering a mere five points, two assists and four rebounds in a crucial Game 7.
On July 19, Ayton shocked the NBA world by signing a four-year $133 million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers. The Suns, however, were quick to watch the offer sheet keeping Ayton in Valley while ending all talks of a breakup.
With contract talk behind him, Ayton has no distractions going into next season and may very well take a huge step forward in his game.
As Suns point guard Chris Paul continues to age and be plagued by injuries, it is evident that All-NBA shooting guard Devin Booker will need a reliable second option that can help carry the load.
Why can’t that second option be Ayton?
Last season, the former first overall pick averaged 17.2 points, the second most of any Suns player behind Booker. He also averaged the most rebounds on the team with 10.2.
It is Ayton’s consistency from the field that has been his biggest bright spot offensively. Each year, the 24-year-old has improved his field goal percentage as he shot a career high 63.4% last season. Ayton has even become a formidable three point shooter which makes him a threat both downlow in the paint and at the top of the key.
Since the Suns play with a primarily smaller lineup, Ayton is not only needed to produce on offensive end, but is relied upon to be the primary rim protector and shot-blocker on the defensive side of the ball.
While some may criticize his lack of consistency, Ayton’s role on the court is extremely underappreciated and he will only continue to grow as a player in the future. 
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