When everything was done and started before they broke the huddle, the final message from Phoenix Suns’ coach Monty Williams to his team was simple. “Execute it, DA you gotta try and dunk it if he throws” he said. Williams talked to Deandre Ayton and told him that in his third year, this play of the Suns that they had practiced many times, was for him.
This play would somehow determine the outcome of the game for the team in the second game of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday. For the Suns, if there is one, it is usually Devin Booker or Chris Paul. Correspondingly, about three hours before the final chaotic moment of the second game, the lottery was pulled out of the bunker, and the 2021 draft draw was announced, former No. 1 pick Ayton had the biggest game in ten years is in his hands.
Ayton’s position in draft history is unusual. It is not a Bust or Bad Pick in all considerations, but not the no.2 and no.4 behind him. Since the Suns brought him to number one in the overall standings in 2018, Luka Doncic and Trey Young have soared. Most of the post-mortem analysis of the project focused on the trade between Doncic and Young, but the Suns’ choice of Ayton was still an occasional whisper.
At its peak last season, Ayton was banned from 25 games on the second day when his first performance dominated. Ayton scored 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks against the Sacramento Kings. The Suns looked like going down, the same is true for Ayton, proving true after his suspension and ankle injury, the Suns never got a grip.
The team’s bubble journey has been the backbone of the season, even for Ayton. In the past, he didn’t have the motivation he wanted for this job. It’s not that he is lazy or unmotivated, but that he had a level of accomplishment and achievement. His dunk was the first game-winner of his career. When referring to his teammates and coaches, as well as almost everyone at all levels of the Suns, he gave all the credit to his coach and teammates, allowing the least credit to himself.