Deandre Ayton responds to viral video of his zero-effort play against Nuggets
Deandre Ayton apparently has no regrets about doing a Han-Solo-in-carbonite impression during a playoff game.
The Phoenix Suns center Ayton came under fire during Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets last week for a sequence in which he gave absolute zero effort on the glass. Ayton contested a shot by Nuggets wing Bruce Brown, taking him out of the play. He then made no attempt to get back into the play as Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was able to get offensive rebound after offensive rebound. Fortunately for Phoenix, Jokic missed all of his putback tries, and Suns forward Kevin Durant finally grabbed the defensive board.
Check out the video (in which Ayton was just standing there like his feet were trapped in concrete).
— Sweet Lettuce (@Sw33tL3ttuc3) April 30, 2023
After practice on Thursday, Ayton was asked about that play by a reporter.
“I just clapped my hands,” said Ayton. “I don’t know what you want me to do right there.”
Here is the full clip of Ayton’s remarks (per Suns writer Duane Rankin).
"I just clapped my hands.".
Deandre Ayton on Instagram post of Nikola Jokic getting offensive rebounds while he stood there in Game 1.
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) May 4, 2023
Yeah, that is a real “yikes” response from Ayton. Truth be told, clapping his hands is a pretty generous assessment of what Ayton was doing there. He may have done one half-hearted fake jump at Jokic, and that was about it.
Ayton is a former No. 1 overall pick who is on a new max contract with the Suns (worth $133 million over four years). But he continues to play below his ceiling, averaging a career low in rebounds per game (10.0) and a near-career low in blocks per game (a meager 0.8) this season.
Phoenix will need Ayton to do something other than stare at the two-time MVP Jokic, his matchup at the center spot, if they are to come back from their current 0-2 deficit to the Nuggets in their second-round series. But since lack of enthusiasm is somewhat of a theme for Ayton, the Suns’ chances aren’t looking great right now.