Deandre Ayton was the #1 pick in the 2018 Draft and was supposed to be the man that changed the fortunes of the Phoenix Suns. However, after getting suspended in his sophomore season and being outperformed by Luka Doncic and Trae Young in his rookie season, some questioned whether the Suns had made the right pick.
During the NBA Finals run in 2021, Ayton played a very important role, especially in beating teams like the Lakers in the Playoffs. He asked for a max-contract extension, like the one given to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander this off-season, but the Suns refused and he had to play up to his value.
Ayton hasn't done that and had a catastrophic end to the season after Monty Williams benched him 3 minutes into the third quarter after an on-court squabble. Coach Monty said it was an internal decision, but people have studied the footage and allege that Ayton told Monty that he couldn't pass the ball to himself, implying the coach hasn't run sets for him to be impactful on the court.
The Mavericks ran undersized lineups and the Suns had the potential to let Ayton control the post. However, their offense stagnated and become a rinse-and-repeat to either drive to the rim and create space for threes or take mid-range shots.
Considering all the reports that have come out of Phoenix since their Game 7 loss to the Mavericks, it seems Ayton is done with the team and the spat with Monty Williams that led to his benching will be the final memory of him as a Sun.
Teams like the Portland Trail Blazers could try and swing on Ayton to pair him with Damian Lillard, while there are other teams that could use a center of Ayton's ability.
No matter what happens with Ayton in the off-season, he has proven that the Suns made a mistake when they picked him over the man that eliminated them yesterday in Luka Doncic.