Ayton passionate about defense: 'I love to make my opponent look bad'

Glenn James / National Basketball Association / Getty

Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic may be hogging the spotlight but Phoenix Suns first-year big man Deandre Ayton continues to quietly produce at an elite level.

Despite his impressive numbers, Ayton hasn't been able to shake the criticism of his defensive effort which has followed him from college.

"I'm tired of hearing that," Ayton told CBS Sports' Reid Forgrave. "I went through that in college, and I'm going through it in the NBA. I don't know what you guys want from me. I'm 7-1 and I'm guarding point guards. I don't understand how much I have to show. ... In the NBA I have to protect the rim. I love defense. I'm not struggling on defense. I love to make my opponent look bad."

The first pick of the 2018 draft has been average at protecting the rim, as he's allowed opponents to shoot 63.1 percent from closer than six feet. It's fairly common, though, for rookies to struggle to adapt to the pace and timing of the NBA.

"They don't have nothing bad to say about my game, so they pick and choose," Ayton said. "People can't find what my weakness is, so I think they just pick that. I am the (defensive) anchor on the team. I know everybody's spots, where everyone's going to be going. I talk all the time."

Ayton and Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. are the only rookies to produce over 40 blocks and steals thus far. Ayton leads all rookies with 10.5 rebounds per game.

Ayton passionate about defense: 'I love to make my opponent look bad'
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