Led by “veteran” Ish Wainright and last year’s Summer League Championship Game MVP, Louis King, the Summer Phoenix Suns defeated the LA Lakers 104-84 on Friday night, starting Vegas play 1-0.
To be 100% clear, I’m watching looking for individual flashes more than team success, though they tend to correlate with each other, so let’s break it down.
We got a Ish Wainright running a pick-and-roll on the first possession of the game! And he drew a foul on his drive to the basket! Fun stuff! Summer League is happening! He hit a three off of a dribble-handoff shortly after as well. He should get a contract ASAP, please and thanks.
Louis King, coming over from the Sacramento Kings and won last year’s Summer League championship, missed three three-point attempts in the first three and a half minutes of the contest alone. Obviously, it’ll be a long couple of weeks with lots of time to have a better showing, but it’s not a great start for the former Oregon Duck wing.
Another PAC-12 standout, former Colorado point guard McKinley Wright IV, made a strong impression at the position on both ends — two assists and two steals in the first six minutes. One steal came from ball pressure in the half-court, and the other came in the passing lanes in transition.
The NBL’s Duop Reath was the most impressive player off the Suns’ bench, and he led the Suns in scoring for the first quarter with 5 points. Suns led 24-17 by that point with three other Suns — Wainright, Wright IV, and Olivier Sarr — tied with 4 points. Sharpshooter Cole Swider led the way for the Lakers with 6.
Point guard Ahmad Caver got in on the bench fun with a nice straight-line drive followed by a steal and assist (to Reath no less) on the ensuing possession. Caver’s a quick twitch guard with a slender, 170-ish pound frame that played the last few seasons with Memphis’s G League program, Hustle, though he did log one single minute for the Indiana Pacers last season as well.
At the end of the half, Suns led by 48-42, leading by double digits at one point. King led the way with 11 for the Summer Suns, while Wainright and Reath each had 7. Caver had 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 4 assists off the bench, including this one, which Reath slammed home:
Throwin' it down. pic.twitter.com/WGgn2kLzPH— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) July 9, 2022
Wainright continued his strong shooting night from distance, hitting a few early in this half, including one off of a pindown that drew a foul as well for a four-point play. He could be a real weapon for Phoenix in the regular season if signed and utilized well.
FOUR. POINT. PLAY.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) July 9, 2022
COUNT IT! pic.twitter.com/QFwJvmJiwP
Over the course of the quarter, the Suns opened up a bit more of a lead, as much as 21. Aside from Wainright’s strong shooting, King continued to impact the game himself, hitting some off-the-dribble shots.
Phoenix led 81-63 after three. King: 18, Wainright: 14, Tyson Carter and Reath: 9 each, Sarr and Wright IV: 8 each. Scotty Pippen Jr. led the way for the Lakers with 19; Swider was the only other in double figures with 11.
It was more of the same in the fourth; Wainright and King starring with some spot moments for other players, like Belgian forward Vrenz Bleijenbergh, who hit a three in his first seconds of game time and helped push the ball in transition quickly after.
Suns won 104-84 and start Vegas play 1-0. Phoenix’s 104 points is the highest yet in Vegas, with only two other teams crossing the century mark so far; Chicago Bulls — 100 and New York Knicks — 101.
Three players of the night
Three stars: Ish Wainright, who may not be participating for much longer given how well he played.
Two stars: Louis King
One star: Duop Reath
The Summer Suns (1-0) are back at it Sunday afternoon against the Washington Wizards (0-0) at 2:30 p.m. AZ time on NBA TV.
The Wizards play their first game on Saturday against the Pistons at 3:00 p.m. AZ time on ESPN2, and they’re headlined by 10th overall pick — and self-proclaimed Devin Booker disciple — Johnny Davis.