The sad Mavericks lost the sad suns in Phoenix last night, thanks mainly to a fourth-quarter explosion by Devin Booker. These two teams will probably go south into the All-Star break sometime, so the only reason to participate would have been the debuts of the NBA by Luka Dončić and DeAndre Ayton, which were supposed to be the first two NBA draft proposals, though , Oh good.
Dončić scored 10 points, eight boards and a very cool behind the back assist while Ayton went for 18, 10 and six. Both guys started and played for over 30 minutes and it is very clear that they belong to at least in the NBA. I am sure Deadspin will be blogging about 500 Dončić passes this season, although Ayton was the more impressive player last night.
Because every player in the NBA should now be able to shoot three, including big-guy Andre Drummond even seven feet as Ayton is expected to be able to do so, at least to spread a bit. Ayton made three of his five mid-range jumpers last night and looked very good as he battled against an elite defender like DeAndre Jordan. Ayton is such an overwhelming athlete in the paint that, far from the hoop, means he will not be able to grab offensive rebounds or jams on humans, though it does not matter if he nails them to a high percentage.
With the jumper he definitely looks stronger when he faces the tire, as Dwight Powell was able to block it easily.
Like any beginner, Ayton will make all kinds of positioning mistakes, especially in defense. Fortunately for Ayton, he will be able to correct some of his mistakes through his athletic power. He will probably have double digit rebounds on average.
It is impressive that Ayton only had two fouls in 36 minutes since he learned not to fail on every body Post Play tends to to be a project for the best big men. Ayton has good feet, and he has a knack for coming to the spot first when he sets screens. He had six assists last night, all coming from small handoffs or getting into the vicinity, and while the numbers outdid his ingenuity, they are addressing his abilities as a screener.
Ayton will score a lot of the basket this year. When he had smaller defenders last night, he got exactly the shots he wanted each time.
The other big men of the Suns are Ryan Anderson, Tyson Chandler in his 18th season, Richaun Holmes and Dragan Bender. Ayton is the only one of this group that is young and well rounded. One can therefore assume that Igor Kokoškov has much to offer him throughout the season. The suns are likely to be bad, and Ayton may eventually slow down, but he looks ready for the NBA.