Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton had standout performance in his second game against the Orlando Magic. Ayton showcased his skills, scoring 14 points on an impressive 7-9 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds, despite the 102-97 loss.
Ayton, acquired by Portland in the Damian Lillard deals, is the most high-profile player the Blazers received. As he continues to adapt to his new team, there is immense potential for Ayton to play a more prominent role at a higher level compared to his time with the Phoenix Suns.
According to The Athletic's John Hollinger, Ayton is one of the 12 members on his "All-Breakout Team." Hollinger believes Ayton is poised for a significant leap this year, citing the increased opportunity as the biggest difference for him. With more chances to showcase his offensive skills, Ayton can demonstrate why he was the first overall pick in the 2018 draft.
While Ayton's potential in Portland shines, it was clear that his opportunities in Phoenix were limited. The move to the Blazers offers him a chance to flourish, potentially transforming him into a more potent scorer than ever before.
One aspect that stood out about Ayton as a draft prospect was his ability to face up and score from the post. Although his shooting range doesn't extend to the 3-point line, he possesses a quick and accurate shot from 15 feet. Ayton's career shooting percentage of 46 percent from 10 to 16 feet highlights his scoring prowess in the mid-range, which can open up opportunities for him as a low-post scorer. Could he become a LaMarcus Lite in the Rose City?
Granting Ayton a high-usage role alongside Portland's young backcourt and lack of depth would have been a missed opportunity with the Suns. However, in Portland, it's a different story. With the potential to be the first offensive option, Ayton's scoring average is expected to soar. His game should scale up without sacrificing efficiency, especially considering his enthusiasm about the change of scenery. A 20-point scoring average on 60 percent true shooting is not out of reach.
Ayton finds himself in the esteemed company of NBA players like Jabari Smith Jr. of the Houston Rockets, Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors, among others, on Hollinger's breakout list.