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Deandre Ayton praises Rockets’ PJ Tucker’s defense

PJ Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
PJ Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton recently joined the list of players to mention Houston Rockets’ ace P.J. Tucker’s stellar defense.

The Houston Rockets were back in action on Friday night, albeit in the NBA 2K tournament. Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton selected the Rockets as his team of choice, which was a wise decision, as they carried him to victory in the first round, over Zach LaVine‘s Miami Heat.

This gave Rockets fans an opportunity to hear Ayton express his thoughts on the Rockets, which we normally wouldn’t hear. Ayton mentioned Robert Covington‘s size, which has made him one of the best defenders in the league. He also stated that the Rockets were triple-teaming him during his last game against the Rockets, which is erroneous.

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One of the more telling statements Ayton made regarding the Rockets was his praise for P.J. Tucker‘s defense, as he said the below.

PJ might not move but he’s not allowing that bro. He’s not allowing that. That’s a grown man, you can’t forget that. That’s a grown man bro. I don’t think PJ’s going to allow that.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard players around the league mention Tucker’s tenacious defense, as Kevin Durant listed Tucker as the league’s toughest defender this past offseason. Although the players have taken notice of Tucker’s defense, the voters in the media have yet to give him credit, as he’s failed to make any of the All-Defense teams over the course of his career.

It would be a pleasant surprise if that changed this season, but that seems unlikely considering how Tucker’s defensive win shares, defensive rating, and defensive box plus minus have all regressed from last season. However, Tucker’s defensive field goal percentage is second-best among all Rockets starters, behind only James Harden.

Tucker’s holding opponents to 45 percent, which is his second-best clip in the last four years. The Rockets have continuously relied on Tucker to defend the opposing team’s best player, regardless of whether it’s a guard or a big man.

One of the many examples of this took place when the Rockets last faced the Memphis Grizzlies, as the Rockets matched Tucker against rookie sensation Ja Morant.

PJ put the clamps on Morant! pic.twitter.com/4WwNnQJK4H

— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) February 27, 2020

During that game, Morant was held to 12 points on 38.5 percent shooting, which is significantly lower than his season average of 49.1 percent. The rookie also struggled from long-range, as he made just 25 percent of his triples, compared to his season average of 36.7 percent.

Ayton is spot on in calling Tucker a “grown man”, as he’s consistently been one of the league’s most gritty defenders during his time with the Houston Rockets. Ayton later added “PJ, I got you,” which was his way of letting Tucker know he’s aware of The Sneaker King’s lockdown defense.

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It’s good to see Ayton praise Tucker for his defense, now we need the voters to do the same.

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