Pregame Post-Ups: Baynes Impacting Suns on Many Levels

Monday, November 18 - Celtics at Suns

Pregame – Is Aron Baynes the New Kyle Korver?

PHOENIX – Aron Baynes is the new Kyle Korver.

Yes, that Aron Baynes.

Baynes, who spent two years developing his long-range shot in Boston before being traded to the Suns during the offseason, has been one of the most dangerous 3-point threats in the league this season. He ranks seventh in the NBA in 3-point percentage among players who have attempted at least 40 treys through the first month of the season, at 46.8 percent.

“Now he’s like Korver,” Brad Stevens joked before Monday’s matchup between the Celtics and the Suns, alluding to Korver’s rank of fourth all-time in made 3-pointers. “Now he’s just firing, and doesn’t take any time, and just a different level.”

Baynes has been given the green light by Suns coach Monty Williams to fire away from long range, and his opportunities have grown with the long-term suspension of starting center Deandre Ayton. Baynes has excelled in his new starting role and ranks 22nd in the entire NBA in player efficiency rating.

None of this, from Baynes’ sharp 3-point shot to his overall success in Phoenix, comes as a surprise to Stevens.

Boston’s coach recalled Monday night the first time he ever worked Baynes out, which prompted him to suggest to the center to begin working on extending to beyond the arc.

“First time I worked him out he was 30-of-34 from 2, and that was like the summer we got him,” said Stevens. “I’ll never forget, after that, saying, ‘Let’s try to start in the corners and work your way out.’

“It was so fun, because he missed like his first 12 that year, or first 14, but then we played Toronto in a game in April I think, and (Jonas) Valanciunas was way back and Baynes hit a couple. And once the lid came off, then he hit a couple in the Playoffs in the first series, and a bunch against Philly with (Joel) Embiid way back.”

Now, two years later, he’s shooting it better than almost every big man in the league. Stevens made sure to point out multiple times that Baynes is getting the shot off much quicker nowadays, which makes him even more difficult to defend.

Shooting isn’t the only area in which Baynes has impacted the Suns during his short time in Phoenix. The Suns, who have not won more than 39 games since the 2013-14 season, have been starving for a veteran like Baynes to lead their young players. Now they have one of the best in the business, if you ask Stevens.

“I thought that he probably was – with the way that he came into work every day, with the energy that he brought, his commitment to getting better himself and his commitment to holding everybody else to that standard – he was a great leader here,” the coach relayed. “And you can see that that has been the case in Phoenix.”

Stevens pointed to the approach with which Baynes attacks each day as a leading factor in his leadership ability.

“He’s just a total energy-raiser,” said Stevens. “He doesn’t have a down day from an energy standpoint. Ever. And I think that that has a contagious effect, and you can see that with the way they play.”

Baynes is an energized big man who is shooting it from beyond the arc at a rate he never has before. He might not be a real-life, 6-foot-10 version of Korver, but he’s going to be a significant challenge for Boston to defend tonight.

- Marc D'Amico