Report: Frank Vogel loves Deandre Ayton, who reminds him of a more skilled Roy Hibbert

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

New Phoenix Suns head coach Frank Vogel reportedly is a big fan of the team’s starting center, Deandre Ayton, and sees shades of former Indiana Pacers star Roy Hibbert in the 24-year-old.

The Suns are Vogel’s fourth NBA team after he he was head coach for the Pacers, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers.

Vogel took over the Pacers for the final 38 games of the 2010-11 season and helped them reach the playoffs.

Over the next five seasons, Vogel remained head coach of the Pacers, a stretch that included a pair of trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014.

That success was driven in part by Hibbert’s talents on the court. Those abilities included relatively modest scoring prowess, solid rebounding skills and shot-blocking excellence.

By comparing Ayton to Hibbert, Vogel may be attempting to bond with one of the Suns’ top players and get beyond the turmoil of the past.

That turmoil was fueled by the contentious relationship between Ayton and former Suns head coach Monty Williams. During their time together, controversy seemed to be a regular feature before Williams was dismissed by the team last month.

During the 2022-23 regular season, the Suns managed to only win 45 games after having won 64 the season before and reaching the NBA Finals in 2021. Their most recent campaign and Williams’ tenure came to an end in a six-game, second-round playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets.

After the season ended, Ayton’s name started gaining some steam in trade rumors, but he’s still with the organization today.

Though Vogel was unable to bring an NBA title to either the Pacers or Magic, he was on the sidelines in 2020 when the Lakers won their first championship in a decade. In that instance, the title was captured in the unprecedented surroundings of the pandemic-caused bubble in Orlando, Fla.

Vogel will have plenty of talent at his disposal with the Suns. With the recent addition of guard Bradley Beal, the pressure will immediately be on the new head coach to deliver the Suns’ first NBA title.

If Vogel does manage to connect with Ayton, the chances of a championship figure to improve.

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Brad has written on a variety of both NBA and NFL topics and has worked previously as a sports information director at the collegiate level. A lifetime fan of sports, he's witnessed countless great moments in different sports and understands that stories can be compelling from both the perspective of winners and losers. As a frustrated fan of Cleveland sports, he experienced something unprecedented when the Cavaliers won the city's first championship in 52 years.