Ayton Leads the Way to Suns First Preseason Victory

by Cody Cunningham

Deandre Ayton once again led the way for the Suns as they tipped-off their second preseason game against the New Zealand Breakers on Wednesday night.

From his mid-range jumper to his presence in the paint, Ayton is proving exactly why the Suns selected him first overall. The big man filled the stat sheet finishing the game with 21 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

“I knew that just off the jump, how he was in college,” Mikal Bridges said about his teammate. “How big of a beast he is and how well he plays. How he can shoot the ball and defend.” 

Even though Ayton has dominated both of the Suns first two preseason games, notching a double-double in each, Trevor Ariza is placing even higher expectations on the rookie. 

“Impressed? Not really,” Ariza said about Ayton’s preseason play. “That’s what is expected of him. I’ll be impressed when he has a 20-20 game. That’s impressive.” 

Ariza meant no hard feelings from his comments, but instead wants to challenge Ayton because he knows the potential that the young center holds.   

“Twenty-twenty is coming,” Ariza said. “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.”

Not only is Ariza looking to provide veteran leadership in the locker room, but he is also doing it on the court. The 33-year-old led the team with six assists while knocking down three shots from deep on his way to a 16-point outing.

The Suns walked away with a 91-86 victory over the Breakers, but the team knows they still have work to do before the season begins.

“We’re working things out. I’m trying to figure out my rhythm,” Ryan Anderson said. “We have more games to play, which is great.”

The Suns will be at home for their third preseason game on Friday as the Portland Trail Blazers come to town. 

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