Deandre Ayton Using the Hate as Fuel

March 18, 2024

Athlete Studio

Deandre Ayton, the center for the Trail Blazers, is well aware of the skepticism surrounding him, despite consistently delivering double-double performances throughout his career. Now in his sixth season out of Arizona, Ayton is no stranger to the doubts and jests directed his way.

However, when Ayton hits his stride, as he has since the turn of 2024, he finds himself in a position of strength, relishing in the face of adversity. "I listen and I hear it and I love it," Ayton acknowledges regarding the doubters. "I thank these haters for it, cause it’s making me approach this game in the right way and carry the PDX on my back all the way. So I thank them. I’m wearing the cape all the way."

Ayton's stellar performance in a recent game against the Atlanta Hawks exemplified his dominance, notching a season-high 33 points on an impressive 15-of-20 shooting, along with 19 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block, propelling the Trail Blazers to a 106-102 victory.

While this standout performance showcased Ayton's capabilities, it's becoming increasingly routine for the Bahamian athlete. In fact, this season alone marks the second occasion he's achieved at least 30 points and 19 rebounds in a game, a feat matched only by Nikola Jokic.

"Approaching the game the way I want to approach it," Ayton emphasizes when reflecting on his recent success. "Every night’s a big night playing with these guys and getting to know them and just being out there with them and battling. That’s all I can say, that’s what lead to it to be honest."

Since returning from a hand injury that sidelined him for five games, Ayton has been on a tear, averaging 26.0 points on 57 percent shooting from the field, along with 17.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.0 steals per game over the course of three consecutive outings. This impressive streak places him among the select few players this season to achieve three-straight games of at least 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Ayton's recent performances signal a turning point in his career with the Trail Blazers, reflecting the promise he held when acquired as the top overall pick in the 2018 Draft. While this season may prioritize development over victories for the Trail Blazers, Ayton's resurgence offers hope for the team's future.

"I just be trying to bust that ass. That’s about it," Ayton asserts. "Whether I look like the bad guy or not, I’m trying to be great. I’m trying to be a winner in this league. I’m trying to be known as that guy. If you’re around me, you’re going to learn how to win."

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