When the Phoenix Suns selected Deandre Ayton with the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, they knew they added a dominant interior threat.
Despite his lack of experience, the Suns are allowing him to do what he does best. According to Synergy Sports, no player in the league has been used on post-up opportunities more often than Ayton (38.8 percent) so far this season. For comparison, the Suns finished an offensive drive on a post-up just 4.8 times per game last year. The rookie has averaged 5.7 post-ups per game, which is more than nine teams in the league.
Ayton has averaged 5.9 points per game on post-up opportunities. This ranks Top 5 among all players in the NBA, per Synergy Sports. Ayton has averaged 1.02 points per possession on this play type, ranking in the 71st percentile.
The big man is currently 39-for-45 (87 percent) on attempts within four feet of the rim. That ranks in the 97th percentile among players, via Cleaning the Glass. While that figure is undeniably unsustainable, it’s worth noting that he was dominant during his freshman season at Arizona. When taking shots at the rim, Ayton ranked in the 93rd percentile among NCAA bigs.
He is adding value near the basket in more ways than just his own scoring so far. Sure, he has averaged 10.0 points per game in the paint — more than all but just five players. But the big also has 0.7 assists per game from this zone, which also ranks in the Top 5. Additionally, Ayton is likely to start drawing more fouls playing this way. This will help him add another way to score.
Especially if he continues to turn the ball over relatively infrequently near the rim, his interior presence can be ridiculously effective as he continues to improve and become more comfortable in the NBA.