Friday, October 5, 2018
Another game, another dominant performance from top overall pick Deandre Ayton as he led the Suns to their first win of the 2018 NBA preseason.
Ayton finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, three blocked shots and three assists in the Suns' 91-86 win over the New Zealand Breakers at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday night.
The rookie centre showed everything in his offensive arsenal, mid-range jumpers from the post-up or face-up, dominating the interior on both ends of the floor with alley-oops or blocked shots.
His new Suns teammates have expectations, which they expect Ayton to meet and eventually exceed in the near future.
"Impressed? Not really, that's what is expected of him. I'll be impressed when he has a 20-20 game. That's impressive," Trevor Ariza told NBA.com. "Twenty-twenty is coming, I can see that coming because he has that capability. He has that type of potential. I want to try to keep him a little humble right now so he has something to work for."
Ayton had nine points and seven rebounds in the first quarter alone.
"I knew that just off the jump, how he was in college," fellow Suns rookie Mikal Bridges said about Ayton's skillset. "How big of a beast he is and how well he plays. How he can shoot the ball and defend."
The Suns' matchup against New Zealand marks the second consecutive year the club has hosted a team from Australia's National Basketball League, defeating the Brisbane Bullets 114-93 during the 2017 preseason.
One of the league's powerhouses, the Breakers won their first NBL Championship in 2011 and successfully defended it in 2012 and 2013. They re-claimed the title in 2015 before finishing as runners-up in 2016.
Their preseason schedule continues tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers which should present a tougher test against a frontline anchored by centre Jusuf Nurkic.
The road slate is highlighted by a matchup against the defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors on Monday, October 8.
In the first of several matchups this season between the country's premier basketball talents, Deandre Ayton had the better individual performance.
Ayton made his preseason debut but Buddy Hield and the Sacramento Kings came away with the 106-102 win on Monday night.
Hield finished with six points, four rebounds and three assists but Ayton emerged as the main storyline with 24 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Ayton shot 9-16 from the field and was 6-8 from the free throw line in 30 minutes. Head coach Igor Kokoskov also noted Ayton's effort on defence. "I think he was engaged. He's a playmaker defensively too, so that's something that he can command. We have three young guys and the benefit of (preseason games) is having young guys on the court to see how they perform and learn from their mistakes," Kokoskov said.