July 10, 2021
Q. What has Mychal Thompson meant to you over the years and the connection that you guys have, both being from the Bahamas?
DEANDRE AYTON: I know he's been holding it down for me, supporting me all the way to here. Keeping me in high spirits and always sending the words of wisdom here and there.
Q. What are some of the words of wisdom?
DEANDRE AYTON: Just basically repping for the Bahamas. You know, I'm a young guy, but taking a lot of pressure off and just making sure I enjoy all of this.
Q. I'm fascinated by the fact that Chris Paul was able to come to town and connect with all the young dudes. Mikal just talked about invites to the house to watch games and he didn't just come and work on his own game and focus on himself. How did he do that? And what moments come to mind of when he did something where you said, man, he's not just about himself and he's trying to lift up the whole group?
DEANDRE AYTON: Man, CP sacrificed a lot since he's been here. You know, just playing through that shoulder injury showed a lot later on in the season. But I would say starting off when he got here, when we were in the middle of training camp, just us getting into it. You know, going at it, playing one-on-one with him, not getting to finish the games because he's arguing the whole time and just seeing the fight and competitiveness, and just showing that he's one of us, regardless of the age and years, he's still a competitor. You know, just break the ice from there.
He's just a great dude beyond that and it's just contagious.
Q. Having guys like Chris and Book, able to handle, score, distribute and so on, what impact does having two guys like that have and the overall offense and how have they been able to help set up your offensive game as well?
DEANDRE AYTON: I mean, we are truly fortunate to have those two, especially when there's mismatches on switches, and just spacing the floor in the right way and it puts us in what we do, moving the ball well. Just them two knocking down shots and being a threat out there works a lot for corner shooters and me being the dunker.
Q. Obviously a big day for yourself and your family here at home in the Bahamas, we celebrate independence today. Tell me about the feeling of playing in a NBA Finals game on Independence Day knowing the whole country is watching?
DEANDRE AYTON: It means a lot. I know there's a lot of motivation behind it. There's a lot of people back home supporting me, watching, and you know, I want to put on a show for them and make sure this thing happens. Every game I'm going, I'm bringing the Bahamas with me. So, I'm locked in.
Q. You talk about the sacrifices that Chris has made but Chris has said you made so many sacrifices for this team. What does it feel like for a guy at that level to say that about what you've been able to do and what you've been able to sacrifice?
DEANDRE AYTON: You know, seeing those, we always talk about it. Just having that chemistry of what's best for the team, that's what I'm all about. If sacrificing is leading the wins and where we are today, I'll sacrifice everything, you know what I'm saying. Everything he's told me has led up to here, so why stop now.
Q. We all know your skill set. Like you could easily be shooting jumpers, easily dribble, we saw a baseline move against the Clippers. I was thinking, I've seen that, but you could be doing that more. How much are you like -- that really must mean something to sacrifice those things because those are elements of your game you've always had but you are not using them for the betterment of the team.
DEANDRE AYTON: I think that's what's best for the team because everybody plays their role but we all got a little spice. And that's why this team is so great, and you know, that's why we really respect each other's games because we know the type of work we put behind it. We know we're not just this role player; that we play for the team. We just do the requirements, but we got a little something extra.
Q. Watching your excitement coming into this series, and you've been real open about it, this is a moment, and even when you won the Western Conference Finals, but then the days start stacking up and now you're heading into Game 3 and it's still hoop. Just overall how has it been compared to what you thought it might be?
DEANDRE AYTON: It's intense. It's serious. It's all business to be honest. You can't really get around the wall when you hit the wall in the playoffs. It's all about doing the right things and approaching it the right way. Just making sure you watch film and making sure you have enough confidence going into these games, because it's a lot.
You know, what I do best is I ask a lot of questions coming into these games and make sure my head is straight and I'm not behind nothing or no assignments.
Q. Who did you talk to the most?
DEANDRE AYTON: Mainly C and Book and Jae Crowder, as well. He's guarded Giannis and he knows a lot of stuff. Especially when we were in the Lakers series, as well, he helped me a lot with AD. Just saying, what does he like, does he drive left, does he drive right, what does he do when you stop him going left, stuff like that. I say, what does the team like to do if I roll, does everybody collapse or do they stay out; or do I have a one-on-one matchup down low. You know, things like that, brainstorming.
Q. Wondering, I don't know how much you've noticed how much attention Monty Williamsí discussion with you during the game has gotten. What has Coach meant to you as far as your development over the course of this postseason?
DEANDRE AYTON: You have to understand, that's Monty every day. You all just captured one moment. That's Monty every second every day, just making sure he uplifts his players, and he's instilling wisdom into us. Monty means a lot. He's a real coach who I can go to and he's more than a coach, as well, I can go to him with anything and he will be legit and life-wise with me.
Q. I talked to Mychal the other day and he was rattling off a few things about you. He thinks you're the third best center behind Jokic and Embiid, and you're going to be the next David Robinson and he projected you as a Hall of Famer. How do those things land with you?
DEANDRE AYTON: That's big time. Me, all I have to do is make sure I put my head down and make sure I keep working. With wins, individual accolades come. I just have to keep working and keep winning.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports