Did Spurs drop the ball in not pursuing Deandre Ayton?

Deandre Ayton
Deandre Ayton / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Before the 2021-22 NBA season ended, there was a ton of speculation regarding Deandre Ayton's destination. During the playoffs, the rumors linking the San Antonio Spurs and Ayton became a huge topic for the media and fans.

Even with the hype, the Spurs still didn't make a push to pursue the young center. All hope for Ayton to become a Spur was gone when the front office dealt their one-time All-Star, Dejounte Murray. After the trade, it was clear to many that the Spurs were going back to square one. Weeks later, the Phoenix Suns matched the offer sheet that the Indiana Pacers gave Ayton, making him stay in Arizona.

Following these events, reports came in claiming that the Spurs never really had any interest in Ayton. Those developments brought a whole new perspective to the Spurs' offseason. I legitimately thought that San Antonio would press hard on signing the 6-foot-11 center.

I was one of the many fans that were excited to see the Spurs get a big man to develop. Also, the addition of Ayton to the Spurs would've easily boosted their chances of getting back in the playoff picture. A dynamic duo with Murray would've been amazing to see.

Unfortunately, that's not the case for the Spurs. Still, looking on the bright side, San Antonio has a new young core to develop, and the future looks bright for the team.

The Spurs saved themselves from getting involved in the Ayton drama

Deandre Ayton is one of the most talented bigs around the association right now. His offensive abilities paired with his improved defense makes him a valued player. 

Throughout his first four seasons, some of Ayton's numbers have had noticeable fluctuations. After his sophomore season, his numbers looked excellent. He finished the 2019-20 season with averages of 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. Fans saw this as a bright sign as he entered his third season with Phoenix.

With the signing of Chris Paul, Ayton's role in Monty Williams' system decreased. He became more of a lob threat in multiple pick-and-roll situations. The former first pick was incredibly effective in their offense and shot better in the field with Paul manning the offense. Although his usage decreased, Ayton was still vital in their success.

Last season, his numbers went back up, and he became more involved in Williams' system. While the Suns did have a remarkable season with Ayton in the middle, they were met with a sudden collapse in the playoffs. One of the main reasons for this was his lack of aggressiveness during their Game 7 matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. He only had five points, four rebounds, and two blocks while playing 17 minutes. 

Following that, there were reports about his lack of discipline off the court. His obsession with video games resulted in limited sleeping time. That probably explains his sluggish performance during their elimination game in the playoffs. I'm not saying he prioritized his gaming hobby the night before a crucial game, but it's possible. 

It's safe to say that the Spurs dodged a bullet in not pursuing Ayton. Although, it still would've been better if they managed to keep Murray and sign Ayton. Still, the direction that the Spurs are heading is pretty exciting. San Antonio has an amazing group of young guys that are ready to take on the challenge the NBA has to offer. 

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The Spurs didn't lose a chance at getting a young big to add to their core. They still have Jakob Poeltl, who many think will get traded in the middle of the season. The big question is, who will be their target in the trade market?