Ayton & Jackson Shine Despite Falling to the Kings

In the midst of a failing NFL & MLB Team, sports fans in Arizona turn their eyes towards a team with a fresh start and new sponsor (PayPal); the Phoenix Suns. The young Suns opened their preseason last night against the divisional foe the Sacramento Kings.

Fans braved the storm to get their first glimpse at the new roster, sans Devin Booker who is still out with that hand injury. Let me tell you, the fans left that game encouraged with their number one draft pick, Deandre Ayton. Ayton led the team in scoring with 24 points in 30 minutes of play. The young man started fast, earning 10 points in the first quarter alone. On top of that, the starting center adding 9 rebounds and 3 blocks to the stat sheet. But what I was most impressed with was how head coach Igor Kokoskov used him in the offense.

Ayton was used very well in this offense. The Suns were able to get him the ball on all areas of the court and it showed, ending up with 56.3% on field goals and 75% from the free throw line. Additionally, I loved how easy it was for Jackson and company to lob the ball to Ayton. THE PICK & ROLL IS ALIVE AGAIN! The offense has rhythm, the ball is moving. The pressure of the offense is now distributed evenly between players. Once you add Booker back in this lineup, look for this Suns team to be truly dynamic on offense.

Josh Jackson was active in this game, dropping 17 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. His progression from last year to now is really showing, he is letting the game come to him. The game will only become easier for him the more that this team gels together.

What was concerning, however, was the Suns’ inability to defend the perimeter. The Kings shot 11/25 for 3 pointers, opposed to the Suns 3/22. As more and more teams prove to be a perimeter threat, they will look to take advantage of the Suns’ defense. Josh Jackson provides the length needed for perimeter defense, but we will need more players stepping up to close out open shots.

At the end of the day, this is a good look at how this team might be competitive in the future. But what was most important was that the fans got the validation that they so desperately needed to see from a sports franchise in Arizona.

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