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Pics and quotes from Friday Night: During and after the Suns opening night win

The Summer Suns won their debut under coach Igor Kokoskov in a convincing fashion not as close as the final score.

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Yes yes, I know it’s only Summer League. I know it’s only GAME ONE of Summer League.

I know that #29 pick Archie Goodwin was a darling of Suns fans, surprising everyone with his production in the 2013 Summer League. He was so good we predicted stardom on the big-boy NBA level. And I know that five summers later, Archie is about to take over the all-time Summer League scoring record while enduring his third straight summer of uncertainty without an NBA contract in hand.

So we need to put all this into perspective.

One good game from #31 pick Elie Okobo (9 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) and last year’s #32 pick Davon Reed (18 points, 4/5 on threes, active defense) does not mean these two have a real future in the NBA.

Reed was sublime on Friday night, clearly carrying the Suns through the opening quarter with dagger threes and defensive activity. He showed us all why the Suns “overdrafted” him at #32 last year. He showed the skills he had in college at Miami, his off-the-dribble three-game to get separation and set his feet the way he wants, and his good defensive instincts and mobile feet on slides and rotations. If THIS Davon Reed shows up every night, and if he can do it against NBA competition, we have yet another 3-and-D wing ready for a the big-boy rotation this fall.

If Reed was sublime, 6’3” #31 overall pick Elie (not Ely) Okobo was a revelation. The big (by Suns fans standards) point guard kept the Suns offense moving at a fast tempo while keeping his head up for cutters and kick-outs and skip passes to open teammates all over the floor. Okobo also showed a knack for scoring as well. He looks like a really good in a lot of ways and if he keeps playing like this he will be a good backup — at worst — in his rookie season.

There were guys who did not play well in the Suns 92-85 win that not as close as the score intimates. The Suns built a 20-point lead late in the third quarter and still had it at 16 with a couple minutes left.

Deandre Ayton (10 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block) was a non-factor in the personal scoring department because the Mavericks double teamed (one in front, one in back) on every possession.

Notes from Scott Bordow,

“I told coach, ‘Yo, they double team in the league?” Ayton said after the Suns’ 92-85 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the Las Vegas Summer League Friday. “Everybody started laughing. They said, ‘That’s just respect. They’re showing you respect.’ ”

Ayton’s first game in a Suns’ uniform wasn’t a rousing success, at least from a statistical perspective. He finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, one block and a couple of brain cramps – he forgot two plays - that had him so concerned he asked out of the game after three minutes so he could “look at the drawing board and get my mind right.”

Dallas kept double-teaming Ayton all night. But that doesn’t mean Ayton was a non-factor on offense. Dallas’ defense left open the shooters on the wing, who made their shots. One of the reasons Mikal Bridges and Reed were 8-10 combined on threes is thanks to the gravity created by Ayton’s presence down low.

Some games, the other team will play Ayton straight up so they can guard the perimeter. In those instances, Ayton will be an unguardable beast thanks to his sheer size and talent. He doesn’t have go-to moves yet down low, but he scores anyway.

In other games, when they focus on double teams, Ayton will pass out to an open shooter and one of Dragan Bender, Devin Booker, Bridges, Reed and Trevor Ariza will drain the shot, while Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren will take the entry pass as they cut to the basket behind the unsuspecting defense.

Ayton does not have to dominate on the stat sheet in order to make a huge difference in the game. Remember that when you’re pouring over box scores just to look at points, rebounds and blocks.

Here’s coach Igor Kokoskov on Ayton.

“I think he played under a lot of pressure from all of you guys (the media), from the fans, from camers, from TV, what’s he going to say, how are they going to see him. So he has to relax and play. … There’s so many different ways how he can help a team win a game. That’s his quality. That’s his strength.”

Ayton was even pulled out of the warm-up routine pre-game to do yet another interview, this time for ESPN. Once Luka Doncic was called out of the game (contract issues), the biggest and only story was Ayton.

All in all, I call last night a great time! The Suns won, and I got to be called “THE Dave King” a bunch of times. :)

Take a look at this great pics from during and after the game.