PHOENIX — New Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams wants you to place an asterisk next to what he says anytime he’s comparing one player to another.
But with that in mind, as anyone who loves the game can tend to do, he can’t help but be reminded of certain all-time great players when watching young talent.
That’s relevant on the Suns, where guard Devin Booker and center Deandre Ayton draw comparisons day after day.
Whether it’s expectations or something else, Williams said Tuesday at his introductory press conference that it’s about not allowing that player to be viewed as strictly what they are being compared to.
“I want to be careful of the comparisons because I don’t want to put any of our guys in a box,” he said.
Williams has spent time working with some of the best big men of this generation, from Joel Embiid to Anthony Davis. That led to a question on who among them Ayton shares traits with.
“When I look at Deandre, he has a number of attributes that kind of remind me of David Robinson a little bit,” he said. “Strong hands, long, lean, muscular, quick-twitch, can play outside a little bit, can play around the basket.”
Robinson, the former San Antonio Spur and No. 1 pick, came right out of Navy with a muscular build at 7-foot-1 that brought on some pre-draft comparisons as well. But as is the case with any young player put side-by-side with a Hall of Famer, there are lofty standards. Robinson averaged 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds a game, making the All-Star team in each of his first seven seasons. Suns fans who hold that comp near and dear will be quick to tell you that Robinson was 24 years old as a rookie while Ayton was five years younger.
There’s also the last centerpiece of a team coached by Williams in New Orleans: Anthony Davis.
“He’s not like Anthony but they both have that ranginess about him, kind of gangly, and yet still strong,” Williams said. “And you can just see once their bodies fill out, they’re going to be a problem for a lot of people.”
That problem was presented by Davis in his second season when he lept from a “solid” rookie season of 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds a night to 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and a league-leading 2.8 blocks. Ayton’s got a headstart in terms of productivity, posting 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a game as a rookie.
With Williams being directly involved in Davis’ first three seasons and his rapid ascension into stardom, the hope is he can do the same for Ayton.