Former Rockets Star Vernon Maxwell Draws Similarities Between Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton and Hakeem Olajuwon

Published 07/19/2021, 7:32 AM EDT
Jun 20, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (right) controls the ball against Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum in the first half during game one of the Western Conference Finals for the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


The beauty of great sportsmen is the fact that we can envision former greats when we witness them in action. When it comes to Centers in basketball, few names stand out in particular. One of the top names on that list would possibly that of Houston Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon. The Nigerian-American player, nicknamed ‘The Dream’, was a key member of the Houston Rockets lineup for over fifteen years, before making a move to the Toronto Raptors. In the current scheme of things, one player in particular reminds us of the seven-footer. The Phoenix Suns’ DeAndre Ayton is a proven match-winner and seems to be getting better by the day.

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DeAndre Ayton has shone for the Phoenix Suns this season. Standing at 6’11”, the Bahamian stood up to the task whenever his team demanded it from him. The 22-year-old has displayed maturity well beyond his years on both flanks. Averaging over 12 rebounds in this year’s playoffs, Ayton has been proving with every match that he is here to stay. After thoroughly impressing in the ongoing NBA Finals, comparison with alternate Centers who have ruled the game was inevitable.

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Jun 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton (22) celebrates a play against the Denver Nuggets in the second half during game one in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rockets icon Maxwell lauds DeAndre Ayton

DeAndre Ayton and Hakeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwon have many vivid similarities. Very few Centers can pose threats on either side of the court such as these two. Being a teammate of Olajuwon for many years, former NBA player Vernon Maxwell knows him inside out.

Speaking with former player/reporter Brandon Robinson, Maxwell analyzed how Ayton evolved his game and took the next step towards being one of the best out there. “Ayton, I like him. He’s turned out to be way better than I thought he would be. I mean, you could tell he’s worked on his game and he’s got real low post moves. And he can shoot a 15-footer.”

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Maxwell also drew comparisons with Ayton to Hakeem, while still acknowledging the fact that Ayton has more room for growth. “I mean that’s what Dream [Olajuwon], he knew what he could do. That’s all he did, and he did it very well” the Rockets‘ former Guard said. “That’s where this young player is becoming too; Ayton, he knows what he can do.”

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Now knowing Ayton’s game style and having the best view of Hakeem’s game, very few can be in a better place to compare the duo than Maxwell. If the Phoenix Suns are to lift up the NBA trophy this year, it will take a monumental effort from Ayton and co. to defeat the Bucks. Can they do it?

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Sankalp Harikrishnan

98 articles

Sankalp Harikrishnan is a tennis and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He aspires to pursue Sports Journalism and has represented his institution in cricket, badminton, football, and table tennis. Apart from his professional desires, Sankalp does voluntary service with his friends to feed hungry animals on a regular basis.

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