Deandre Ayton Proving To Be Worth Max Deal For Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

One of the more unexpected developments coming into the 2021-22 NBA season was the Phoenix Suns and Deandre Ayton not working out a rookie extension. It seemed like a forgone conclusion that something would be worked out ahead of the deadline, but nothing came to fruition.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft was seeking a max contract like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Michael Porter Jr. received. But, ownership was not interested in giving Ayton a max contract, so no deal was made.

Ayton is now set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, which could present some problems for the Suns. While they have the right to match any offer sheet that he may sign, will they be willing to do so should a team with cap space, such as the Detroit Pistons, who are in the market for a center, agree to a max deal with him?

The answer should be a straightforward one; yes. There is no reason that the Suns should watch Ayton leave this summer in free agency, especially without receiving any sort of compensation in return for him.

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All Ayton has done this season is cemented his status as someone worthy of a max rookie extension. He showcased that kind of potential during the team’s run to the NBA Finals in 2021 and has continued to play at a high level this season.

Some people will point to the team’s success when Ayton was sidelined this season as a reason to not pay him max money. Phoenix is 18-3 without Ayton in the lineup, but that should speak more to the excellent job Monty Williams has done as head coach and James Jones has done in the front office building a strong roster.

Ayton is having another excellent season, arguably the best of his career. He is shooting a career-high 64.7 percent from the field and his per-36 average of 20.7 points is a career-best as well. His offensive and defensive ratings are also the highest of his career according to Basketball-Reference.

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It would be shocking if the Phoenix Suns allowed Deandre Ayton to leave, especially if they can make another run during this year’s postseason. He is a cornerstone player and a big part of why they have been so successful as an efficient scorer offensively and anchor defensively.

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