Devin. Armani. Booker.
In a 21-point blowout against the Dallas Mavericks, Booker dominated across the board. The 21-year-old phenom went supernova in the fourth, nailing 19 of his 35 points in the final quarter. You could almost hear the collective sigh from the Dallas fan base as it saw its new-look roster dismantled by the young star.
Booker is a revelation for Phoenix and the clear face of the franchise.
But we already knew that, didn’t we?
The most surprising part about the Suns’ performance this Wednesday night was definitely the supporting cast.
Behind Booker, Deandre Ayton showed why he was worthy of being drafted No. 1 overall. The big battled for boards and dominated offensively, with 18 points on eight for 11 shooting against one of the league’s best defensive centers in DeAndre Jordan. To make his performance even more impressive, the No. 1 pick had six dimes, showing off his extremely versatile skill set.
Those six assists were especially needed for a team without a starting-caliber point guard. Alongside Ayton, three more of the Suns’ starters had six-plus assists, for a total of 35 in the game. New head coach Igor Kokoškov is making quick work of utilizing his offensive weapons on the floor.
The Suns were even more impressive behind the arc, nailing 19 threes on 56 percent shooting. While that performance is obviously unsustainable throughout the season, it’s more than promising for a young team in a three-centric league.
With dominating performances by the Sun’s two brightest stars, it’s easy to forget the other pieces of the Sun’s exciting young core.
Josh Jackson had a huge night, with 18 points off the bench and an even more impressive three of four from three. Jackson has the athleticism and defensive motor to hang with anyone in the NBA, but his biggest question mark has always been his jump shot. While this is just one game, any flashes of a passable shot are promising for the young Sun.
Behind the young core, the Suns’ talented veterans rounded out the impressive opening night.
Trevor Ariza, one of their biggest acquisitions of the offseason, had a near triple-double performance with a team-high plus minus of +25. Ariza is a known winner, having won the chip with the Lakers in 2009 before serving as a key cog in the Rockets juggernaut during the past two seasons.
Fifth-year forward T.J. Warren also put up a solid effort with 17 points off the bench. Unfortunately for Warren, his lackluster defense still seems to be a major point of improvement for the 25-year-old.
The Suns have a bright young core and a solid group of veterans to start this season. After three straight years of sub-25 win seasons, the Suns are finally looking like a respectable NBA franchise. But with just a sample size of one, let’s see how they do in games two through 82.