Bailey believes Ayton needs to “start executing more moves toward the rim.”
“Getting Kevin Durant back should help, but at some point, Deandre Ayton probably has to start executing more moves toward the rim instead of away from it,” Bailey wrote. “Among the 77 players who’ve averaged at least as many minutes as Ayton over the course of his career, he’s 66th in free-throw attempts per game. All but one player behind him on that list (Nikola Vučević) is a guard or wing.”
Ayton is currently out with a hip injury. The 24-year-old is averaging 18.3 points and 10.1 rebounds this season while shooting 58.9% from the field and 75.1% from the free-throw line. The Suns are 30-31 with Ayton in the lineup and 38-34 overall.
The Suns Are Struggling
The Suns are just 1-5 in their past six games. Ayton and two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant are injured and Phoenix is having trouble getting to the free-throw line.
“The Phoenix Suns are 1-5 in their past six games,” Bailey wrote. “The only win came against the Orlando Magic, and head coach Monty Williams is understandably experiencing some frustration. In those six games, Phoenix has attempted 121 free-throw attempts, while its opponents have attempted 203. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the Suns’ affinity for pull-up jump shots, but it’s hard to look at that disparity and not see where Williams was coming from after Wednesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. If Phoenix is unable to generate a few more trips to the line in the playoffs, teams that enjoy a steady diet of free throws are going to be tough to beat.”
The Suns are in fourth place in the Western Conference standings. However, they are only two games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are in seventh place. The top six seeds in the conference automatically clinch a playoff spot, while seeds 7-10 make the play-in tournament.
Monty Williams Was Angry After the Lakers Game
“I can sit here and rant and rave about what I feel like is not a fair whistle,” Williams said. “It’s just not. 46 free-throws. We’re attacking the rim. I’m getting explanations about we’re taking too many jump shots, midrange jump shots. We’re playing a physical game. They had 27 free-throws in the first half. They end up with 46. When do you see a game with 46 free-throws for one team? Like, that’s just not right. I don’t care how you slice it. It’s happening to us too much. Other teams are reaching, other teams are hitting and we’re not getting the same call and I’m tired of it. It’s old. 46 to 20 free-throws with Devin Booker on our team. He gets 12. I mean, our bench had no free-throws. It’s just, I’m over it. Been talking about the same thing for a while. Doesn’t matter what team it is. I’m tired of talking about free-throws. Our guys have to do their job, we understand that, but that’s a huge disparity. 46 free-throws, and I’ll say it again, 46 to 20. That’s it. That’s all I gotta say.”
The Suns have been called for 31 personal fouls in each of their last two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Lakers.