Young Suns Showcase Full Team Effort in Victory Over Mavs

by Cody Cunningham

How will the rookies perform? What does Igor Kokoškov’s coaching style look like? Where will the returning players show improvements?

There were many questions heading into the Suns first game of Summer League, but by the time the game was over, the answers were clear and the team had the victory.

All eyes were on Deandre Ayton and it took less than three minutes into the game for him to bring the fans to their feet. Shaquille Harrison ran the fast break and found Ayton at the rim for a one-handed alley-oop slam.

“I was just really excited to just get on the floor and try to make a highlight play,” Ayton said.

Despite facing double-teams for the majority of the contest, Ayton still battled, finishing with 10 points to go along with his eight rebounds and one blocked shot. 

“Definitely takes a lot of pressure off the guards,” Davon Reed said about Ayton drawing two defenders. “Big fella played well tonight. I’m confident he’ll continue to get better every day."

Reed got the Suns going in the first with a three and continued shining the rest of the night. After missing the majority of his rookie year due to injury, Reed wanted to prove what he can do on the court.

“I’m up for the challenge,” Reed said. “Just looking forward to working hard every day. I put in a lot of work this summer and I’m feeling good.” 

Reed scored a game-high 18 points on 87.5 percent shooting, including four three-pointers.

“We’re happy with the way he played tonight,” Kokoškov said. “I like his presence. I like his composure. I like his voice. I’m happy for him.”

Élie Okobo was the floor general for the second unit and had a great mix of showing off his playmaking ability while also knocking down his shots.

“That’s the hardest part of coaching and teaching is the passing,” Kokoškov said. “He can see the floor. He’s looking for his teammates. He’s very crafty with the ball and he’s capable to score.”

Okobo credited his teammates for making it easier on him. 

“We’ve got players that can slash, players that can shoot the ball really well, bigs that can roll and set the screens,” Okobo said. “For a point guard, you can find them easily. That’s what I like to do.”

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Okobo’s playmaking was Mikal Bridges. After a quiet first half, Bridges caught fire after the break. He knocked down four of his five shots from deep and finished the game with 14 points off the bench. 

It was a full team effort as the Suns defeated the Mavericks 92-85 in their first matchup of Summer League. 

“They showed up,” Ayton said about his teammates. “Some of these guys, they’re vets and they execute plays and they’re loud, vocal and communicated to us. They kept my energy up especially. I felt very comfortable.”

The Suns take the court again tomorrow as they tip-off against the Sacramento Kings at 4:30 p.m. Catch the action on ESPN or listen-in to Arizona Sports as they will be broadcasting the game on ESPN 620 AM.