The relationship between the Phoenix Suns and Deandre Ayton has quickly turned from bad to ugly. The former number one overall pick has soured on his long-term future with the Suns after they failed to give him the max contract he desired the previous offseason. It is clear the relationship continued to get worse with the Suns electing to bench Ayton during the blowout Game 7 loss in the Conference Semifinals. When asked about the decision to play the star center for just 17 minutes following the game, Monty Williams simply replied that “It's internal.”

It is important to note that Deandre Ayton enters the offseason as a restricted free agent. This gives the Suns an opportunity to match any offer that other teams send. Considering the current relationship and previous unwillingness, it seems clear the Suns are not likely to match the max contract that will inevitably be sent his way. While Phoenix may not believe he is worth this, there are plenty of teams around the NBA that disagree.

One of the teams that appears to be interested in the Suns' big man is the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks took a step back this season after making it to the Conference Finals in 2021. Their 43-39 record and loss in the opening round is cause for change. As Trae Young begins to transition into the prime of his career, it is important to put the best possible supporting cast alongside him. The first move to ensure this happens is to sign Deandre Ayton.

3 reasons Hawks must go after Deandre Ayton in 2022 free agency to help Trae Young

Current Roster is Maxed Out

Trae Young is incredible, but it is impossible to win a championship relying solely on him offensively. The Hawks have a solid collection of players, but none are expected to make a massive leap moving forward. The Heat put on a defensive masterclass against Young in the playoffs. With no legitimate second option, the Hawks' offense greatly sputtered. Guys like Kevin Huerter and De'Andre Hunter are great role players, but asking them to do too much exposes their weaknesses.

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There was plenty of promise surrounding this core following their 2021 success. As the rest of the Eastern Conference improves, the Hawks cannot be content staying the same. The step back they took is less of an indictment on the Hawks and more on how much the rest of the conference has improved. Their collection of players is complimentary to Trae Young but lack the firepower to compete with the top teams.

Deandre Ayton would be the best big man Trae Young has played with

Just about every big man in the NBA would jump at the chance to play with Trae Young. His advanced pick-and-roll reads and lob creation creates easy baskets for the big man on a regular basis. Clint Capela and John Collins have each feasted off of these easy dunk opportunities on Young's assists. Young has not averaged fewer than 8.1 assists per game since coming to the NBA. He was third in the NBA in assists per game this season and first in total assists. Many of these baskets occurred on lobs around the baskets. Ayton is perfectly capable of playing this role as screen and roller and finishing with the same efficiency.

The exciting aspect with Ayton is there is more to his game than just catching lobs. The 6'11” center also flashes a mid-range and face-up game that would add a new element to the offense. His skill set opens up a pick-and-pop game. Ayton will demand the respect that will open up things for Young and other shooters. There also will be possessions where Young could take off and allow Ayton to do his work in the post. Young has not played with the type of quality center that Ayton is. This would open up the Hawks' overall offense.

Deandre Ayton ready to prove it

Ayton's time in Phoenix was unhealthy for both sides. It was clear this season that he was frustrated by their lack of faith in him. The benching during the Game 7 blowout was about as poor of an ending as either side could have expected. If the Hawks give the 23-year-old their support and the opportunity this could bring some impressive results. Providing him with more freedom and a clean slate is exactly what he needs at this stage of his career.

Even with the hurt feelings, Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds this season. He is impactful on both sides of the floor and will be a welcomed addition to the Atlanta scheme. Deandre Ayton believes he belongs in the conversation with the best big men in the NBA and this will be his opportunity to prove it.