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July 7, 2021

DeAndre Ayton

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. What does it mean to you personally, that draft class you were part of, Luka, Trae, so many good players. What does it mean to you to be the one that's at this stage first?

DEANDRE AYTON: All respects to Luka and Trae. They are great players, but personally, as a player, this means a lot. It shows what all the hard work and dedication leads up to and what it really means. It shows that consistency is something that you need to have in your personnel. And just knowing the type of will power you need to be at this type of stage.

Q. Do you keep tabs on those guys and other guys from that draft class? Obviously, you're not paying attention right now but over the course of your career?

DEANDRE AYTON: I mean, it's hard not to keep tabs when they show them everywhere around the world, you know what I'm saying. But yeah, of course, everybody knows about Luka Magic and Ice Trae, period. Them dudes really took over their franchises and they’re doing what they do best.

Q. The Bucks are switching defensively. To get a switch, you need to set a screen. What have you learned over the years as a screener? Has playing with someone like Chris helped you with the intricacies of it? I'm curious about screening in general?

DEANDRE AYTON: I think I became a legit screener when he came here. First thing he taught me that I'm going to need in my career for a while is learning angles, learning how to get people open and learn how to get open and learn how set the screen with a person going over, under.

I really learned when teams, I think in the Clippers series, when they were switching, I learned how to really get under the player that's switching and really seal them off to get that good mismatch on either C or me, and I just carried it with me.

And a guy like Jrue Holiday, who is really an on-ball screener, it's tough to really get him, but just setting a good, solid screen just to get him and get C or Book free is about enough.

Q. The second part is that, whether it's P.J. Tucker or whoever it may be, I know last night you got the high/low look a couple times.

DEANDRE AYTON: Yeah, I can seal, as well. But once they throw it down there, it's going to be a lot of corral around me and it's going to be too much. It's going to be hectic down there. We've learned to counter it when teams try to front me, so I just allow them to front me and we play off it and read what we do best.

Q. Just curious, what's this Finals run or this playoff run been like being a dad?

DEANDRE AYTON: I think Doc came into that room last night after the game and he asked me how is my body feeling. I said, "I actually feel pretty well. You could imagine a couple years ago how I kept getting hurt." And he's telling me it's probably that "dad power."

It's probably true. Because there's some things I surprise myself with the type of mental stamina I have, and, you know, me, seeing growth in my maturity, I guess it is.

Q. Piggybacking off the question about screening and how it's different to screen for Chris, one of the things that just fascinates me about his game, and he's always been like this, he comes out kind of one way in the first three quarters where it seems like he's trying to get you all in a solid rhythm and he can try to try to take over the game and look more for his own shot in the fourth quarters. Is there anything for you that changes with his aggression level and how it changes your role, and what do you guys see as his teammate in terms of the way he gets more aggressive in either the third quarter or fourth quarter, the second half?

DEANDRE AYTON: C always gets everybody involved and gets us going in rhythm. He starts to see how teams try to adjust and counter what we throw at them when it comes to our pick-and-roll. He tries to at least let me know what the dude is doing on ball or what my man is calling, either a switch or they’re down in the pick-and-roll and I try to adjust my angles on him to free him up and it opens up the floor.

But coming into those quarters, we know when he's really hot, when he gets to his spots and he's in rhythm, you know he's going to pass. He's the point guard. He's going to see if he can slip past us here and there when he's rhythm, but we know when he's taking over the game most of the time when it comes to late stretches in the game and the pick-and-roll.

Q. How is your team so good at getting quality production from guys off the bench, guys who haven't scored as much are making big offensive contributions. How have you become so good at that in the playoffs?

DEANDRE AYTON: Mainly because we respect each other. We know how hard we work. The second unit, first unit, don't matter. You know, last dude on the bench, off the bench, everybody has the same work ethic. Everybody has to bring it coming into practice. Everybody has to come in early, get some work done. Everybody has to touch the ball, put shots up, do something, and that's why we're so consistent in what we do now.

There's never really no laggers or anybody. Everybody picks it up and everybody is on each other. You know, it leads to the game when you put in work.

Q. You're one of seven players in this series either from Africa or like yourself, have a parent that's from there. For you, what does it mean to be on this stage representing either the entire continent or Nigeria in particular?

DEANDRE AYTON: It means a lot. I don't really know much on that side. But I know as a whole continent on the whole, there's a lot of people there. I just want to be grateful and honored by my parents just even putting me in the world to be in this position that I'm in to represent everybody.

Hopefully, growing up, me and my son can learn about that ethnicity one day.

Q. Both Chris and Book have talked about some of the tough conversations they have had with you throughout the season. Is there any specific moment you can remember where they said something to you, whether during a game or at practice, and it just clicked for you and you were able to apply it immediately? Is there any specific moment you can think of?

DEANDRE AYTON: Probably every day. They got to tell me something every day to click. You know, Book always has something to say in a good way, just to get me going. It's really hard to really think about what they say that really clicked. I can just say they keep a consistent thing where they are always giving constructive criticism, and I take the best of it.

Q. How's your day going so far?

DEANDRE AYTON: My day is going amazing. You know, finally got a practice day where I could just take care of my body and get ready for Game 2.

Q. And how is baby Dre doing?

DEANDRE AYTON: Baby Dre is amazing. He's growing fast.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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