Deandre Ayton Shines in Suns Preseason Debut

by Cody Cunningham

Deandre Ayton took the court for the first time on Monday night and the “Big Fella” didn’t disappoint.

In the first quarter alone Ayton was already in double-figures scoring also grabbing five rebounds. He wasn’t quite yet as he finished the game with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

“I just took up the energy from all the points and ran the floor and I had a lot of fun,” Ayton said. 

There are high expectations set when you are drafted first overall, but Ayton seemed to have no trouble showing fans what an exciting player he can be. The rookie got it done on both sides of the court as he also put up three block shots and a steal on the defensive end.

“I think he was engaged,” Head Coach Igor Kokoškov said. “He’s a playmaker defensively, too, so that’s something that he can command.”

Josh Jackson seemed to be Ayton’s partner in crime on the court as the duo connected on multiple alley-oops throughout the night.

“I’ve known him since I was like a freshman in high school,” Jackson said. “He’s a competitor and when I’m coming down the lane and I know he’s on the side rolling to the basket, it’s a pretty easy decision for me.” 

Jackson finished out his performance with a game-high six assists to go along with his 17 points. He, Ayton and Shaquille Harrison found themselves on the court late which is exactly what Kokoškov wanted.

“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,” Kokoškov said. “We purposely left those three guys on the court to see if we can close with them.” 

TJ Warren was a huge spark for the team off the bench as he did what he does best, getting buckets. The fifth-year player scored 16 points on six-of-seven shooting while also grabbing four rebounds. 

“We know his strengths very well and his ability to create his own shot, to break the paint and get a lane,” Kokoškov said. “TJ is a huge part of our offense.” 

Luckily for the Suns it was just preseason as the team kept it close, but ultimately fell to the Kings 106-102. 

The team will join in on some international play on Wednesday as they tip-off against the New Zealand Breakers at Talking Stick Resort Arena.