They need a nickname. The combination of Igor Kokoskov, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton come together like a single Phoenix raising the Suns franchise from its ashes.
I’m liking ‘Kokobay’, but my opinion is like a tone-deaf person thinking their karaoke is the bomb.
Nickname or not, together they form a super-unit.
The Suns won their season opener in convincing and thrilling fashion. Check out the highlights here.
Rookie Deandre Ayton, in his first ever NBA game facing off against a two time All-NBA Defensive Player DeAndre Jordan, posted 18 points (8 of 11 shooting), 10 rebounds and 6 assists for a +17 on the night.
Rookie center Ayton said after the game, “Trevor [Ariza] was like, ‘you know, if you want to be great, this is how you be great, grab every board. Control the glass and grab every board. Foul or no foul, just grab every board and you’ll set the tone of the game.’ That’s what I tried to do. Protect the rim as much as I can and we got a great win today.”
Ariza explained it from his point of view.
“When you want to be a big time player, which he is going to be,” Ariza said. “Things that we need from him, he has to do at a high-level. So, that’s all it is. It’s just letting him know who he is and who he is going to be right now.”
Devin Booker, with two shooting fingers still taped together mind you, scored 35 points (including 6 of 10 threes), dished 7 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds. The guy “who can’t win games” was a +22 on the night and scored 17 of his points in the final five minutes after Dallas had cut the lead to just four and Igor went Point Book.
Of course, those two would put up their numbers WITHOUT coach Igor Kokoskov on the sidelines running the show.
“That today was amazing,” the rookie center Ayton said of his first game with Booker. “Just every pick-and-roll I came up to him, he just kept on telling me what to do, like ‘flip your hips, flip it and slip’. His communication, our communication, we got the job done.”
But it’s Igor’s quick passing offense that triggered the blender for Ayton, Booker and everyone else. Eight different Suns players had at least 1 assist. The team as a whole assisted on 35 of 44 field goals. Four Suns players had at least six assists alone.
Several of Ayton’s assists were off screen-setting dribble-hand offs to Booker. Several of Booker’s assists were to the weak side shooter when the defense collapsed on he and Ayton in the roll.
But this was definitely a team effort thanks to Igor.
They got near-triple doubles from Trevor Ariza (21/7/8) and point guard Isaiah Canaan (8/7/6), while Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren made 6 of 8 threes (!!!!) and dished four assists between them.
“It was a total team win,” Booker said.
The Suns made 19 threes, which happens to be 4th all-time for the Suns franchise in ANY game, and ties the league record for most threes in a season opener.
That’s better than any league record they set or tied LAST season eh?
“Every time I rolled and tried to go for a rebound...bloop,” Ayton said of watching all those threes by his teammates drop in the basket.
Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren were wonderful off the bench. Efficient, staying within the offense and taking the open shots.
Warren made his first three three-point attempts within the flow of the offense, and Jackson helped close out the win with a pair of HUGE threes late in the fourth.
“They were going in before I even got the ball,” Jackson said. “I was so ready to shoot. I knew when I got a chance to shoot it I would rise up and put it in.”
The Suns won their season opener for the first time since Jeff Hornacek’s first two seasons as coach and the last time the Suns were competitive with a 87-77 record in those years.
Watch coach Igor talk about the game. Notice he spent the first 2-3 minutes telling us what they did wrong and how they need to get better.
And now Booker talking about the win. Sorry it’s hard to hear Booker, and I didn’t even upload Ayton’s interview. Too many media, and too far from the action to get good audio to share.
“It’s been a long drought for these fans,” Booker said of trying to get back to winning basketball. “We owe it to them to do everything we can.”
“I always think about the Nash days, the Barkley days,” Booker said the standing ovation from the crowd. “I watched film of those games. I know those fans are still around.”
Booker wants so badly to bring the excitement back to the Suns, get the fans on their feet on a regular basis, and win a lot of basketball games.
We want that too.