The Phoenix Suns up and down season continues as the team demonstrated that they are very much capable to play with the higher powered teams in this league some nights, and play lack luster and lose to the worst teams other nights.
Regardless, every night they show they are still young and immature and still learning how to win in the NBA game. At its worst the team looks lost on sets at times and turn the ball over at a high rate and take lots of isolated bad shots that are not counter productive to winning a game.
But the contrast to that is that of the play and involvement of center De’Andre Ayton, the teams first pick over all two years ago.
Ayton’s is the center piece and the engine or ingredient that will make this Phoenix Suns team great again, and from the looks of his start of this season he had no clue that he is the piece that all of this expectation hinges on.
The game against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night showed the world just a glimpse of how dominate this Suns team can be when they have the center piece player performing like the most important piece.
Ayton accumulated only nine rebounds in the game and that was due to being in foul trouble throughout, and being more attentive to the details on the defensive end.
Focus and intensity were things this big man was lacking and it got to a point that it looked like he just will never be able to generate that type of playing attitude.
Then the draft comparison that he will forever be judged on was next on the schedule, the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic coming off a back to back at home to face the Suns.
Doncic has been the story of the NBA, as he came out of the gates seizing all the opportunity that came along with being a high draft pick.
His game seemed to be advanced and Ayton’s seemed to be in playful child mode a full season and current, but through that has put up decent numbers but not impact numbers that make a team better soon as he arrived much like Doncic and other high draft picks in the last two years.
Instead the former Wildcat struggled to stay consistent in intensity and also appearing to have no desire to bring the fierce power and aggressiveness that his body displays, rather he would bring a smile and a bit of corky goofiness that started to give him the “soft” label and the “bust” tag was in the making.
So much that many had already began to put his name in trades at the trade deadline this season.
But the game he played Wednesday night verses Luka and the Mavs Ayton racked up a career high 31 point and nine rebounds and allowed Devin Booker to sit the fourth quarter.
It was not so much the amount of points he scored it was how he scored them, with a fierce like attitude accompanied by aggression along with doing those things the longest he has ever played at that intensity in one game.
De’Andre came with a frown on his countenance all night and did not crack one smile throughout the game, in the wake of the Kobe Bryant tragedy and his teammate Devin Booker so moved by the incidents, it appears that Booker may have finally tapped into the aggressive tree of De’Andre Ayton and possibly talked a little “ What would Mamba do” with him to spark a business like attitude.
The number one overall pick moved his feet on defense switching onto guards and staying in front of them, altering shots at the basket and looked calm and collected on offense as he chose his shot selection.
It appeared things slowed down just a little more for the big fella, and rather than taking a rushed jump shot he assessed the defense and countered with moves that seemed to have been lost in the archives.
Dropping his first nine straight shots and had it not been for foul trouble he could have gone for 40, but in the grand scheme of things, fouls for Ayton at this point are good because they show he is being aggressive.
DA led the Suns along with Booker dropping another effortless 30 plus to a crushing of the Mavericks 133-104 victory. That brings the teams current record one game over last years total and we are barely at the half way point of the season, which means all along even with the ups and downs the Suns are a better team than last year especially if their prize piece stays focused.
Suns Nation saw this style of Ayton and wish he can stay around and get better for the next 15 years or so, go to All-star games and playoff series, and maybe a championship or perhaps even with all the gaudy numbers finish up in the Hall.
Is that too much to ask?
That performance was one for the ages and hopefully we will allow this young man to see he has had so much untapped potential, and can be one of the games best if he stays focused.
Time will tell .