Either Deandre Ayton fell and bumped his head somewhere in Portland, or he’s the most ridiculous guy in the city. Apparently, after five and a half years in the NBA, Ayton feels he no longer needs to prove himself. Ayton let this slip while speaking with Mark Medina of Basketball Intelligence. It had to be a slip of the tongue, coming from a player who’s accomplished little as a pro.
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“I got nothing to prove in this league,” Ayton told Basketball Intelligence. “I’m a max player, and I’ll continue to be a max player.”
Whenever we hear this type of conjecture from an athlete, it’s a shot at the media in most cases. Ayton feels he no longer has to prove himself because he is a “max player.” These comments came from a player averaging 12.5 points per game on a team languishing at the bottom of The Association. While he’s averaging a double-double (10.3 rebounds), Ayton’s ppg has dropped by almost six points from last year in Phoenix.
Remember that whole beef between Ayton and former Suns head coach, Monty Williams? Although he’s in Detroit now losing a lot of games with a young team, he’s got to be laughing to himself at Ayton’s revelation. The two had “issues” during their stint together in Phoenix especially towards the end. Ayton played just 17 minutes in that game-seven debacle against the Dallas Mavericks a couple of years ago. That was explained as being, “internal” and left at that.
Clearly, there was animosity there and we know now that Ayton did not like playing for Williams when it was all said and done. Hearing Ayton’s comments must be a vindicating moment for Williams. He’ll never say it publicly, but he was right. It never felt like Williams saw “elite” in Ayton. It’s never felt like Ayton has that fire and passion inside to be the best. Just making it to the NBA is a feat in itself but once you arrive you’ve got to continue pushing.
Ayton sometimes comes off as a player who feels like because he’s been paid that’s all that matters. There’s nothing wrong with that if you just want to make a living and go home. Most people can understand that, but this attitude won’t get you far as a pro. Yes, you’ll get paid but that’s about it. And if Ayton continues with this attitude that max extension, he’s expecting may elude his grasp.
The worst part of this is that he said this aloud to a reporter on the record. Feeling that way inside is one thing but when you get so frustrated that you go running off at the mouth like this it’s a problem. Ayton basically told the Blazers and every other NBA team that he’ll continue to go through the motions but not to expect much more than that.
Let’s not overlook the fact that 12 points and 10 rebounds per game aren’t exactly small potatoes. But when you’re getting that level of production from a guy who averaged 18 and 17 ppg the previous two years, respectively — on a much better team — that’s concerning. We’re talking about a 25-year-old NBA player who is entering the prime of his career. Maybe he’s in the right place currently because nothing about Ayton’s demeanor exudes a winning attitude.