With the recent shake-up involving Damian Lillard, Deandre Ayton has come into the spotlight. Let’s dive deep into the unfolding relationship between Ayton and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Background: Ayton’s Journey
Deandre Ayton, a former No. 1 pick, found himself entangled in the seismic trade drama revolving around Damian Lillard’s move. With Lillard’s transition hogging headlines, Ayton’s transfer seems to have taken a back seat, despite his significant 18-point average and his almost max deal.
Usually when players averaging 18 points … get moved from a contender, it’s big happenings.
However, this might be just what Ayton wants a quieter move without the glaring spotlight.
Phoenix Days: The Sun Sets
During his time with the Phoenix Suns, Ayton experienced turbulence. The business side of the sport often overshadowed the love for the game. His restricted free agency led to complications, resulting in an offer from the Indiana Pacers which was eventually matched by the Suns.
In Phoenix, Ayton found himself pushed to the background, overshadowed by stars like Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. Past altercations with former head coach Monty Williams further muddled the waters, making the move a logical step for both Ayton and the Suns.
Comparative Analysis: The Center’s Value
Let’s evaluate Ayton’s worth in the context of the league:
Top Tier Centers (Not Available):
- Nikola Jokić
- Joel Embiid
- Bam Adebayo
Next Tier Centers (With Recent Trades):
- Rudy Gobert: Utah secured five first-round picks for him.
- Jarrett Allen: Part of a considerable trade from Brooklyn to Cleveland.
- Mitchell Robinson (New York): Asking price is multiple first-round picks.
Ayton’s acquisition by Portland is somewhat of a jackpot. A player of Ayton’s caliber, paired with his potential, is hard to come by.
Ayton: A Closer Look
Though he’s often pitted against Luka Dončić and Trae Young due to their draft class, Ayton possesses unique attributes:
Skills and Abilities:
- Soft touch around the basket
- Reliable mid-range jumper
- Impressive free-throw percentage, especially for his size.
His performance during the 2021 NBA Finals was noteworthy. He boasted averages of 17.8 points and 13.7 rebounds in the Western finals and 14.7 points with 12 rebounds in the Finals.
Fresh off that trip to the NBA Finals in 2021 … he wasn’t immediately rewarded with a contract most expected.
Despite stellar performances, contractual challenges with the Suns caused some strain.
A New Chapter with the Blazers
Under the guidance of Blazers’ coach Chauncey Billups, a figure who understands the ups and downs of an NBA career, Ayton is poised for rejuvenation. Stability and trust will play crucial roles in this new phase.
Ayton’s experience in the NBA Finals and the succeeding season with the Suns, which saw a rather abrupt end against Dallas, paints a picture of a player hungry for success.
The Portland Trail Blazers are extending a hand of trust, warmth, and patience. And in return, they hope to harness Ayton’s raw talent and channel it into consistent match-winning performances.
Conclusion: A Fresh Start Awaits
Both the Blazers and Ayton stand at pivotal junctures in their respective journeys. For Ayton, the Blazers offer a fresh start and an opportunity to redefine his career. For the Blazers, Ayton provides hope, talent, and the potential to transform their fortunes.
Only time will reveal the success of this new partnership, but the prospects look promising. With fresh eyes and renewed vigor, a new NBA season awaits.