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Suns’ Deandre Ayton reveals secret behind his rising play

Suns, Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, Ricky Rubio

Deandre Ayton had another monster performance for the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, finishing with 25 points (11-of-22 from the field, 3-of-4 from the line), 17 rebounds, and three blocks against the Los Angeles Clippers. It would, however, come in a losing effort, with the Clippers outgunning the Suns to emerge with a 102-92 victory in Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Despite the loss, though, there’s no denying that the former first overall pick has been outstanding for the Suns all season long. Ayton appears to have turned a corner of late, and according to the 21-year-old, this has been thanks in large part to his new-found connection with Phoenix point guard Ricky Rubio.

“All that started on the plane. I told him we could be the best offensive pick-and-roll duo in the league,” Ayton said, via Kellan Olson of Arizona Sports.

“He just sat me down with some film, he and (assistant) coach Darko (Rajakovic). Just reading how people guard Ricky, setting the screens and really getting out of the screen and trusting him that he’s gonna throw the ball up for me and just make the right play to be honest.”

Rubio is an elite playmaker, and for Ayton, understanding how to best play with the veteran point guard has been key to his recent success.

Ayton is making up for lost time this term, after serving a 25-game suspension early in the season following a violation the league’s anti-drug policy. Now in second season, the former Arizona standout is averaging 19.1 points (on 54.8 percent shooting), 12.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, and 1.6 blocks in 32.9 minutes per ballgame.