Deandre Ayton and Monty Williams are off to a fantastic start to the season. Ayton especially as he is up to 18.3 PPG which is a career-high on 55% shooting and 33% from three-point range. Ayton is wildly considered one of the best two-way Centers in the game with his agility and length to guard both the post and perimeter.
One of his first biggest challenges of the year is going up against a New Orleans Pelicans team that is coached by former Suns assistant coach Willie Green that has built one of the best frontcourts in the league with Zion Williamson and Jonas Valančiūnas. Ayton is impressed with what his old coach has built in New Orleans.
“You can’t sleep on them dudes man. Them dudes they can play,” says Ayton. “You know there’s a reason why they made the playoffs. And you know the coach, coach Willie (Green) is a defensive dude he’s all about defense and you know just seeing how CJ (McCollum) got the young guys doing what’s right and getting them guys on the same page you know it’s tough.”
This is the first time since last year’s playoff series that the Suns will play against the Pelicans when they beat them 4 games to 2 in a best-of-7 series in the first round. Many people expected a Suns team with the best record in basketball to sweep a Pelicans team without Zion Williamson and a team that just made it through the play-in tournament.
However, head coach Monty Williams believes the similarities in scheme that he see’s between his team and the Pelicans are the reason why they had such a hard team competing against them in last year’s playoffs.
“If you took the faces off and you watch them play, you watch them in the defensive scheme it’s like you almost see the same thing,” says Williams. “I think that’s why the series was so physical and chippy they were out there running the same stuff at times and they know what’s coming and you know what they’re running… and that just makes the game fun.”
Despite the similarities in teams. Williams still sees some new stuff that coach Green has implemented in New Orleans
“I’ve seen him add his own wrinkles on both ends of the floor. And I think anytime you work with someone you take what you learn from that program and then you add your own stuff. I don’t think any of us are inventing anything.”
The Suns will be facing the Pelicans tomorrow night at the Footprint center at 7 PM for their second of six home game stand in hopes to improve to 4-1 to start the season.