Portland Trail Blazers News: Pricey Starter Stunningly Defiant Amidst Late-Season Surge

webnexttech | Portland Trail Blazers News: Pricey Starter Stunningly Defiant Amidst Late-Season Surge

Since returning from a five-game hand injury absence, Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton has truly, finally been living up to the “DominAyton” nickname he allocated for himself ahead of his first year with the club this season. Through his past five contests, the seven-footer has been logging impressive averages of 27.2 points on .633/.333/.846 shooting splits, 15 boards, one assist, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks per bout.That’s a massive uptick from his season averages of 15.7 points on .581/.333/.828 shooting splits, 11.1 rebounds and 1.6 dimes across 45 games overall. Ayton’s play and availability (he’s missed 22 games already) for the 19-48 Trail Blazers have come under criticism. Part of that, no doubt, comes from expectations he carries as the No. 1 pick in a 2018 draft that included Luka Doncic and Trae Young. The fact that the 25-year-old is earning $32.5 million this season while underperforming has also drawn some ire.”I listen and I hear it and I love it,” Ayton said of his doubters during remarks to attendant press on Wednesday, per Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. “I thank these haters for it, cause it’s making me approach this game in the right way and carry the PDX on my back all the way. So I thank them. I’m wearing the cape all the way.””Just playing hard, man, approaching the game the way I want to approach it,” Ayton continued. “Every night’s a big night playing with these guys and getting to know them and just being out there with them and battling. That’s all I can say, that’s what led to it to be honest.””I feel like coming into these games, I’m trying to do everything,” Ayton added. “Not only do my requirements, my role for this team, but do a lot more. That’s where I’m at. I’m more dominant. People like to laugh at it but it’s the truth.””I just be trying to bust that ass. That’s about it,” Ayton noted of his mentality against opponents. “Whether I look like the bad guy or not, I’m trying to be great. I’m trying to be a winner in this league. I’m trying to be known as that guy. If you’re around me, you’re going to learn how to win.”Per Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian, Ayton also recently indicated that some issues off the court may have impacted his performance on the hardwood. “I felt like I adjusted quickly,” Ayton said, seemingly forgetting that he demonstrably did not. “But at the same time, it’s good to acknowledge that we are human and things like that do have to take into place where you have to adjust to certain cities and teammates and things like that.”

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