Since the calendar turned to February, the Phoenix Suns have seen a different side of their young superstar. Has he taken the next step, or is this just a shooting streak?
Over the last year, Deandre Ayton has undoubtedly improved and made some strides. In his fifth NBA season after being selected first out of the University of Arizona, Ayton is averaging a career-high 18.7 points and is on pace to get to a career-high 41 double-doubles. However, since the calendar turned to February, Ayton has been at a different level, and we have to ask, has he taken a big step, or is this just a hot shooting stretch?
Ayton has been the center the Suns need in February
The Suns have played eight games in February, and Deandre Ayton has been playing at a different level during most of those games, averaging 24 points per game. A big reason for that, more than five points-per-game increase in scoring, has been his shooting, which has been torrid.
Ayton is shooting 70.9% from the field for the month, making 10.4 field goals per game, more than any other center. On the season, Ayton is shooting just under 60% and is making eight buckets per game. Thus the simple explanation is that Deandre is just shooting well, and this period of improved scoring will pass.
We could believe that to be true and expect Ayton to regress to his mean. However, there are a few reasons to believe at least some of this growth from Ayton is more permanent than less.