The Phoenix Suns have been one of the best stories of the 2020-21 season and the evolution of center Deandre Ayton has been a huge part of that.
While his numbers are down from last season, he's making a more pronounced impact while on the court, with a career-high offensive rating and defensive rating.
In the team's win in Miami, a statement victory that helped the Suns get back on track, he contributed across the board with 17 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks.
DA with another solid night to stem the Heat in the 4th. pic.twitter.com/cyGL05LP9h- FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) March 24, 2021
Ayton, the No. 1 overall of the 2018 NBA Draft, shot 8-of-12 from the field and was a team-best +20 in his 34 minutes. Not to mention the fact that his performance came against an All-Star caliber forward/center in Bam Adebayo.
"In an ideal world, I actually want even more," Suns head coach Monty Williams said postgame on Ayton.
The 6'11" center was one of five players for the Phoenix franchise to score in double figures including a team-high 23 points from Devin Booker as they handed the Miami Heat, tied for fifth-best team in the East, with their fourth-straight loss.
The Suns, currently with the third-best defensive rating league, believe they can get even better defensively and Ayton has a huge role to play in that.
"He's not one-dimensional. In his ball-screen coverage, he can do a lot of different things because he moves so well, and we're trying to exploit that," Suns veteran Jae Crowder said postgame.
Jae Crowder on what they've been emphasizing to Deandre Ayton and the potential the Suns have with him defensively: pic.twitter.com/9PbasSyJEY- Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) March 24, 2021
This victory, in the first contest of a four-game road trip, helps the Suns win their third in a row after a couple of bumps in the road since the All-Star break with home losses to the Indiana Pacers and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
They improve to 29-13 for the season, good for second-best in the Western Conference. Their 21-5 streak, after stumbling to an 8-8 start, is the best record in the league since late January.
The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.