Deandre Ayton is ready to prove plenty of doubters wrong during the NBA's restart.
At 26-39, the Phoenix Suns own the worst record among the Western Conference teams that will compete in Orlando this month. However, Ayton believes the team will surprise critics when the campaign resumes, citing its improved play away from home this season.
"When we're on the road, that's where we have our best games. That's where we come together," Ayton said Thursday, according to ESPN's Andrew Lopez. "That's where coach has us thinking it's us against the world. And that's the best feeling to me. We know how the media is when it comes to the Suns, let's be real here.
"We all know that feeling. It's a feeling to where we know, we ain't come to play games."
Phoenix has won 13 games both at home and away, but their winning percentage is better on the road. In order to stand a chance at making the postseason, the Suns would need to finish ninth and within four games of the eighth-place team.
In that scenario, Phoenix would force a play-in for the eighth seed; if it can win two straight games against the eighth seed, the Suns would vault their opponents for the West's final playoff berth.
While the odds may not be in their favor, Ayton says he intends to use criticism of the Suns as motivation in Orlando.
"We're coming to work. We've been working," he said. "We thank the league for choosing us as one of the teams. We're grateful, and we're coming to work. That's about it. Whatever the media has to say, we're just going to use that to add to the fuel."