Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton did not look like a former No. 1 overall pick in the team’s 112-100 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night at the Moda Center.
Ayton scored just six points on 3 of 9 shooing while grabbing 11 rebounds. After the game, coach Chauncey Billups added some context behind Ayton’s struggles.
“It just all kind of really depends on how a team is playing,” Billups said postgame. “You could tell that tonight they made a emphasis to collapse in the pocket a little bit on him especially because we weren’t making threes so they collapsed in the pocket.
“They’ll have some of these type of nights and they have some nights where it looks incredible,” Billups said. “It’s all a part of it.”
Ayton’s success nearly directly correlates with the Blazers’ success early in the season. Whenever Ayton shoots above 50 percent, the Blazers are 3-1. When he shoots under at that mark or below, Portland is 0-3. It is still early to ingratiate Ayton into the offense, especially after joining the team just before training camp, so there will be some growing pains.
But fortunately for the Blazers, Ayton has been one of the league’s best rebounders. His 13.3 rebounds per game currently ranks second in the league behind Sacramento Kings big man Domantas Sabonis (14.2). If his offensive game can progress like his defensive game is, he will slowly begin to see his value rise.
Ayton and the Blazers are back in action Wednesday against the Kings. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT at the Golden 1 Center.