Ayton gets first weekly honor

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Bahamian center named Western Conference Player of the Week

Sheldon LongleySend an emailNovember 29, 2022 168 3 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton (22) shoots over Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday. Ayton had 29 points and 21 rebounds and the Suns won, 113-112. AP

Bahamian DeAndre Ayton is putting up huge numbers and he was rewarded with his first-ever player of the week honor, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced on Monday.

In three games for the week that covered November 21-27, the Phoenix Suns’ starting center averaged 23.7 points on 67.4 percent shooting from the field, 16.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while recording a double-double in each of the Suns’ three wins.

Ayton climaxed the week with a monster 29-point, 

21-rebound performance in Phoenix’s 113-112 win over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the second game of a back-to-back on Saturday. His 21 rebounds matched a career-high, and it was the third 20-20 game of his career.

A humble Ayton said afterwards that he just wanted to contribute in whatever way that he could. He signed a four-year, $133 million deal during the offseason after the Suns matched an offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers, and he is showing that he could produce on the floor, earning that money.

“I want to do more, I feel like I can do more,” Ayton said. “I’m just trying to do what I can to 

contribute to my team.”

It’s been a pretty eventful week for the Bahamian big man, starting the week off with a 14-point, 15-rebound effort against the Los Angeles Lakers in which he shot 63.6 percent from the floor, going 7-for-11. He helped the Suns record a 115-105 win on their home court at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

During that game, Ayton was shoved aggressively by Patrick Beverley in the back after it appeared he stood over Lakers’ swingman Austin Reaves. Reaves was fouled hard by the Suns’ Devin Booker and it appeared that Ayton might have stood over Reaves while he was on the floor. He stepped toward Reaves when he was still down, and Beverley responded aggressively and paid the price as he has been suspended for three games without pay.

After the shove, Ayton fell to the floor and quickly got up. He was shielded from responding to Beverley by his teammates and team officials. They were both assessed technical fouls, and Beverley was ejected.

Since then, Ayton has really taken off. The 24-year-old center erupted for 28 points and 12 rebounds – both game-highs – in a 108-102 victory for the Suns over the Detroit Pistons. Following that, Ayton turned in his monster 29-point, 21-rebound effort against the Utah Jazz, scoring a season-high for the second straight night. Ayton was the first player to have at least 28 points and 20 rebounds in a game for the Suns since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2007. He shot 11-for-19 from the field and added three assists and two blocks.

Ayton has been named the Western Conference Player of the Week, and Milwaukee Bucks’ forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week.

After being selected No. 1 overall out of Arizona in the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton has had four successive seasons in which he has averaged a double-double for the Suns. This season, he is right under that, dropping in 16.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while averaging a career-high 2.2 assists per game. He is shooting 59.6 percent from the floor.

Ayton has extended his double-double streak to five games, matching another career-high. In those five contests, he is averaging 20.2 points on 66.7 percent shooting from the field, 13.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. Those metrics over a five-game span have only been accomplished by two players since the 2014-15 season – Antetokounmpo (2018-19) and Denver Nuggets’ center Nikola Jokić (2021-22), who both went on to win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in those seasons.

Ayton and the Suns boast the NBA’s Western Conference’s best win/loss record at 13-6 and the NBA’s best home record of 11-1. They were set to take on the Sacramento Kings on the road at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, last night, but the result of that game was unavailable up to press time. 


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