Dear Deandre Ayton,
You are about to start on your first ever Game 7 in your career. Your Phoenix Suns have battled, scrapped, fought, and struggled against the Dallas Mavericks. There have been highs in this series, and there have been lows. One moment your team is thrashing the competition, the next the ball is fumbled away.
The time has come for you to exert the dominance you possess. You are playing against a team that lacks true size on the interior. Just look at Dwight Powell, the Mavericks biggest player and starting center. When he is in the game, you own him. You’re 9-of-18 from the field when he guards you and in 77.8 partial possessions, your team has scored 80 points when he tries to D you up.
Even the Mavericks’ fan base doesn’t want him out there.
I never want to see Dwight Powell play against the Suns. Man is trash. #MFFL
— MFFL (3-3) (@Mavs_FFL) May 11, 2022
Why? Because they know that you can exploit him at will. You have been attempted at times throughout this series when faced with that matchup. You pump fake. You attempt to finesse the ball into the basket. And we understand. Your attempts to be physical have been met with whistles.
Literally the first play of Game 5 was your attempt to try to exert your physicality. You were whistled for it and you reverted back to the finesse player that you are more comfortable being.
Maxi Kleber is no match for you either. Sure, on the defensive end he tries to draw you away from the paint you love to protect. The entire team wants you on the perimeter, and you’ve held your own due to your lateral quickness and ability to switch.
When your team is on offense, and Maxi Kleber is the defender, you need to attack him. He is no match for your skill set, and there’s no way that he can consistently stop you from getting to the rim. You’re 15-of-23 (65.2 percent) against him in this series. When you see number 42 standing between you and the cylinder, you should see that as a sign of disrespect.
We love you for who you are. You are a member of the team, not someone who is constantly begging for the ball and unhappy if you don’t get your touches. You’re willing to sacrifice statistics in an effort to contribute to the greater success of your team. It’s what makes you unique in the NBA. You just want to win.
But the Suns have a Game 7 on Sunday. And we need you to change your approach. The time has come for you to demand the ball. When you get it, be deliberate with it. Turn towards the rim with confidence and hit your bunny shots. Sink the 15-footer. Impose your will and force the Mavericks to adjust to you. Spin away from the doubles they start to throw your way and find your open teammates.
All of this will open up opportunities for you to take it to the cylinder, and if you’re feeling like it, feel free to throw down a couple wham-bam-slams on tired defenders. Just be sure that when those posterizations are complete, you immediately turn your eyes towards the rafters. Because if you look at the player you just dunked on, apparently that’s a technical foul these days. Unless you’re Luka.
You are the key.
The Suns need you now more than ever, DA. 20 shot attempts might not even be enough. Go for 30. Send the Suns back to the Western Conference Finals. Be DominAYTON. 40 incoming burgers…