Photo: Portland Trail Blazers/YouTube screenshot

Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton acknowledges that fans perceive he hasn’t met their expectations, but he personally disagrees with that assessment.

“I got nothing to prove in this league,” Ayton told Basketball Intelligence. “I’m a max player, and I’ll continue to be a max player.”

In the summer of 2022, Deandre Ayton signed a maximum offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, but the Phoenix Suns decided to match that offer sheet. A year later, Ayton was traded to the Trail Blazers.

Despite these moves, Ayton emphasizes his commitment to contributing in subtle ways to support Portland in securing victories.

“I’m letting them know how teams respect me in this league to where they can benefit off of it. I don’t always have to be a scorer or an offensive-minded big night in and night out,” Ayton said.

“But just the work that I’ve been putting into with this league, teams overreact to everything that I do on the offensive end, whether it’s a roll to the basket, crashing the glass, setting good screens, slipping screens.

“They’re going to react with you just putting pressure on that rim. Our guys should just learn how to play point-five actions where it’s catch-and-shoot or it’s making a play for your teammate.”