Deandre Ayton had the kind of debut the Phoenix Suns wanted

Phoenix Suns Deandre Ayton (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Deandre Ayton (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images) /

When the Phoenix Suns won the first overall pick, it was fairly obvious who they were planning on selecting: Deandre Ayton. But until he got onto the court in an actual game, we could only imagine how he would look in the NBA. One preseason game in? He’s all that we had hoped for – and maybe more.

The Phoenix Suns have never had a dominant center in their history. So when they won the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and Deandre Ayton was the near consensus pick, Suns fans were assured of one thing: if nothing else, this would be the best opportunity the franchise had ever had at snagging that star anchor in the front court.

After the Las Vegas Summer League, we weren’t left with a whole lot in terms of how he might look during a real game. Sure, Ayton’s stats were good (he averaged a double-double), but not only was he playing with inferior talent, but against it as well so the competition apparently high enough to put forth all-out effort.

At times he played timidly and looked like he was more afraid of not getting hurt more than anything else – and let’s be honest with ourselves, we should be totally okay with that.

In the end though, fans of both he and the Suns couldn’t wait to see more.

Finally October 1 came around, and we got our chance.

Now through one preseason game, a 106-102 loss at the hands of the Sacramento Kings, Ayton looks like everything Suns fans had hoped for – and more.

Deandre Ayton not only looked  like the best big man on the court, but he arguably looked like the best player  on the court as well.

Sure, Phoenix was playing without Devin Booker, and Sacramento brought Marvin Bagley III off the bench for some reason, but for a rookie that has been billed as a front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award, he not only looked the part, but put the stats up to back up such talk.

Ayton finished with a Suns game-high 24 points (two off of Yogi Ferrell‘s game-high 26 points), 9 rebounds (Willie Cauley-Stein finished with 12), a game-high 3 blocks, and 1 steal. He also not only got to the free throw line but nailed his shots as well finishing 6-8, while converting 9-16 from the field. (He not-so-surprisingly did not attempt a 3-pointer though).

If you were able to watch the game, you also saw that he ran the floor hard. He was down the court with the guards on fastbreaks and quickly asserted himself in the lane for a post-up whenever available.

If he is able to make his post-up game a dominant aspect of his offensive repertoire, unless the Suns are truly streaking down the court faster than he’d be able to setup, if he is able to get himself set, he’ll be a ready recipient of the ball down low, dominating the low post, and building a second home at the free throw line as well.

Ayton’s activity in the post was most apparent with two alley-oops, each of them coming from Josh Jackson who at times performed as a makeshift point guard while short-handed minus both Booker and Isaiah Canaan.

Much like Shaquille O’Neal, Ayton’s size and athleticism will allow him to get to open spaces near the rim while his hands will allow him to be the positive recipient of such passes with regularity.

The opening night of preseason was just what it was – the opening night of preseason.\n
However, Deandre Ayton looked exactly how we all hoped he would, dominant, under control, and ready for the moment.

Next. If Mikal Bridges must be a part of a Butler trade, the the Suns must say no. dark

The regular season is only 16 days away.

Ayton’s stats will begin to count soon enough. If tonight becomes the norm, than every wish and dream that Suns fans have had about this young man helping their beloved franchise, just might come true.