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Film Study: Deandre Ayton Crucial Accelerates Suns Evolution

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Phoenix Suns Center Deandre Ayton saw a season high utilization of 35.53 on Tuesday night vs Washington Wizards.

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He’s had some impressive baskets in the post via direct calls to get him involved in the areas of the floor he’s most comfortable working from.

The premise was not that different from the way it was shown in the first round series vs New Orleans Pelicans from last season, but he did show some evolution from it, over a short lap, as I mentioned in “steven study,From the post game Tuesday.

A lot of people, myself included, have had scope in making short-range play and clinching it on offense while at the pass advantage.

This dynamic is very important. However, I also feel Ayton finds the feeling of scoring on a short lap just as important, especially given how teams have tried to physically manipulate him on short laps in previous instances, to test his comfort and clinching off the block.

Three actors from Tuesday presented him with opportunities to grow and he succeeded.

Let’s dive into the movie.

Playing first here, we’ll see Chris Paul bring it in and store a free-throw line stretched out for a staple, the catch-and-roll side blank.

Taj Gibson now a member of The Wizards, even in his advanced age, was versatile with his pick-and-roll toppings.

Sometimes it would “weaken” the screen (think icing but it was affecting the ball handler weak palm). Other times it was at a drop. Here, he’s level and puts a jab on Chris Paul.

A big part of Ayton’s development has been understanding the kind of draping situations that require him to create an appearance in the midfield.

His understanding of what each selective coverage entails, especially with regard to whether he’s a Paul or Booker side-by-side, was key to unlocking his development as well as the Suns’ in the half-court process.

His processing speed, as well as the speed at which he works the drum dynamic, is where they need to be right now. We also see him noticing that the hit was on Paul, so he opens the gate in transition to roll, his hands already up and ready to receive the rock.

When he catches, we see another part of his development, through movement after dribbling. He goes with the dodgy euro step, shielding himself from a potential charge, then making it count on a smooth-to-the-touch finish.

Then, we’ll see him catch a short lap late on the shot clock.

He gets jammed early on by Gibson to stop his momentum toward the basket, forcing him to make a triple-threat decision, while also being under strong ball pressure.

He does a great job of staying composed while moving to the semi-circle, down the free throw line, then using a post-play technique to create separation and then get into the catch point where he can finish the play comfortably.

Finally, we’ll see it adjust roll based on the coverage being applied to Bridges.

So it’s ‘Ice’ on Bridges, with Bridges’ man and Eton’s man trying to squeeze him in and pin him to the sidelines.

Aiton handles and doesn’t get too deep to wind it, positioning itself properly to be the release valve. Then it snaps into the perfect position to catch and release with a soft-touch finish that gives the defense no time to react.

These are very subtle, but actors he was collecting and attacking with intensity it seems. They’re also Suns-born actors as teams show extra interest in their core pick-and-roll handlers.

He is, firstly, to establish himself as a shortstop scorer, especially early in matches, will have a negative impact on how teams turn out to show him assists within the dual teams below them.

This, in turn, would enable a better blending of both his scoring and play (as a plus) because the cutouts’ lanes or pitchers’ space would increase, generally generating a better flow of them into the feature.

These opportunities also allow unique paint touches for Ayton.

He is currently fourth in the NBA in coating touches, with 10.9 coating touches per game. This one is a bit behind, but in the same neighborhood as:

  • 1st – Rudi Gobert (11.7)
  • 2nd – Jarrett Allen (11.5)
  • 3rd – Anthony Davis (11.4)

He is currently second in total points scored via paint touches as well, at 315.

These are different from the traditional publication entries placed on the block, which have seen a slight uptick this season, but work in a way that still works for him as he bids to become the next member of the “Middy Committee”.

Watch his decisiveness when teams show extra interest at the point of screens, as early recognition of coverages and what they ask of him in the rosters will continue to be a major cog in the evolution of his game and the Suns half. Court offense, specifically considering success against playoff-style defenses.

Monty saying that the ring is real is “the reps remove the doubt,” and those reps, regardless of the opponent, are invaluable to their big man.

Apply the context of Chris Paul being the premium selection handler that he is, plus the uptick in double teams Devin Booker sees on a per-play basis, and you’ll get a picture and understanding of why Ayton is growing both comfortable and crucial to not only blending the short play industry into the fold, but also Why scoring him in the short throw is a must.

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