The Portland Trail Blazers have brought in many new players over the past six months since entering the post-Damian Lillard era.
The most notable of all the new Blazers is former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, whom the team acquired from the Phoenix Suns in the Lillard deal. However, Ayton doesn’t have a fan in The Athletic’s Jason Quick, who wrote that he believes the team should ship the former top pick out soon.
Although his play has spiked for the better in the past month, his first months in Portland were defined by tardiness and tantrums according to team sources. And there has been an eerie resemblance to Hassan Whiteside, the former Blazers’ center whose statistics looked nice, but had little to no impact on a game. The quicker the Blazers can move off Ayton, the sooner I will believe this franchise is headed in the right direction.
Ayton, 25, is averaging a career-low 13.9 points in his first season with the Blazers. He’s also grabbing 10.4 rebounds per game, which is on par with his numbers while in Phoenix.
It took some time for Ayton to transition, but perhaps a full offseason in Portland will allow him to grow more comfortable with his role. He left a championship contender in Phoenix to a rebuild project in Portland at the snap of a finger just before training camp, so the Blazers will be able to gain more of an understanding of who Ayton is once enough time passes.
Ayton has two years left on his contract after this year, so the Blazers probably won’t trade him in the offseason. However, there is reason to believe Portland may not be thrilled with the start of Ayton’s Blazers tenure, and maybe he isn’t valued as much as he was when he walked in the door.
To read more of Quick’s analysis on the Blazers after their trade deadline, click here (subscription required).