The Phoenix Suns are 2-0 in Summer League play with a victory over the Marvin Bagley III-led Sacramento Kings. Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s victory.
1. Dragan Bender still looks both weak and out of sorts on both ends of the floor.
Early in first quarter, Dragan Bender attempted to drive on Harry Giles who kept Bender completely out of the lane. Bender could not assert his dominance as the offensive player and was pushed entirely out and out of position for a layup or dunk attempt. Totally guided to the right side by Giles, he pulled up for about a 15-foot shot, or so.
Giles slammed it out of bounds and into the stands about three rows back…
This is the third Summer League for Bender, and while it’s only the Summer League, one would expect to see something of a discernible improvement from Bender, and yet not yet.
It has been reported that Bender has put on a little extra weight (presumably muscle), but he still allows himself to be bullied on both ends of the court by other forwards/centers. Of course we shouldn’t take a whole lot from a Summer League outing, but the fact that in two games Bender has yet to look like anywhere near the best player on the court, something that should be expected from a top-5 pick player about to enter his third year in the NBA, is something to think about.
Bender finished with 0 points on 0-5 shooting including 0-4 from beyond the arc, 5 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and 4 personal fouls.
2. Deandre Ayton needs to assert himself in the post.
The ESPN commentators illustrated multiple times how Ayton isn’t getting into proper form or position when looking to get the ball in the post. They said time and again that he needs to play lower and not stand straight up to more properly receive a post pass. On the one occasion that he did so late in the game, he was able to get the pass over Bagley and get a shot off, that unfortunately rolled around and out.
This is certainly not something to be worried about, his ability to gain post position was always something that scouts knew needed to work on, and seeing himself in game film with his NBA coaches will help him to better place himself in the post.
It should be noted though that often the point guards could not get the ball in the right position to Ayton as well, so for at least a couple of possessions it was not entirely his fault. Point guard play is something that will undoubtedly be improved upon with Brandon Knight in the pre and regular seasons.
3. Ayton had a quiet night, and yet a good statistical night.
Although he played in 29 of the game’s official 40 minutes and finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot, Deandre Ayton had a relatively quiet night. Between Marvin Bagley’s obvious higher level of effort and Ayton’s struggle in the post, Deandre seemed like a bit of a none factor.
Statistically at least, he wasn’t.
Ayton is still 19, a rookie in the Summer League, and hasn’t had much NBA coaching as of yet. So to have a 21 and 12 night without really making many obvious waves, is a testament to is skills and ability to collect stats on both ends without impacting the game on a greater level.
Phoenix Suns fans though will most certainly be happy with quiet stat lines like this one early on in is career as he both grows physically and in maturity, especially when his better games will be much more statistically menacing.
4. Josh Jackson has not lost a step.
Josh Jackson had to leave the second quarter with a cut over his right eye caused by an attempt to box out Bagley who flailed, nailed Jackson with an elbow, but got a foul on Jackson called. Josh returned in the third quarter, this time wearing a mask (although no one would have been surprised if he would have been kept out of the game entirely).
Even with the cut and now a mask, late in the third quarter, Jackson got the crowd on it’s feet.
On back-to-back possessions, Josh Jackson got Vegas crowd excited with loud “ooooooohhhhhhh’s” by blocking Marvin Bagley III on each possession, the first one an emphatic block out of bounds off of a fastbreak layup attempt that Jackson was trailing.
Then a few possession later, Jackson used his athleticism to get to the rim and slam the ball hard getting more “ooooohhhhhh’s” from the crowd.
Overall though, his shooting was nowhere to be found as he finished with 10 points on 3-12 shooting from the field (after finishing 4-16 against Dallas), only 1 rebound, 2 assists, and 4 turnovers.
It’ll be nice to see if Jackson can continue to work on his shooting this summer and enter training camp more capable in that regard.
5. Davon Reed looked good – again
Although the deadline to decide on whether to re-sign or waive Davon Reed has been pushed back to after the Summer League wraps up, it has been speculated that Reed will be waived by the Suns, especially in light of their newest draft class.
Reed though is doing his best to make the Suns’ decision as difficult as possible, following up his impressive 18 point performance on 5-7 shooting including 4-5 from beyond the arc against the Dallas Mavericks, with a 12 point, 5 rebound, 3 assist and 2 steal game against the Kings.
Drafted by the Suns for his potential as a 3-and-D guy, if he shows Phoenix brass that he has made improvements in both areas this summer, if any minds about waiving him have actually been made, maybe he could turn them back.