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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / November 22.
  • Deandre Ayton’s first NBA points come off a lob dunk

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    Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, scored his first NBA points on Friday night off a lob dunk in a Summer League game between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks.

    “He’s such a unique talent,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough said on ESPN during the game.  “You can see the size and length and strength.

    “With us, we’re going to try to put him at the five and surround him with shooters. Guys that can dribble-penetrate and shooters on the wing. Offensively, he’s so versatile. He’s a lob threat rolling to the rim. He showed great touch with both hands around the basket and then he can also pick and pop and step out and make shots on the perimeter as well.”

    Luka Doncic — the No. 3 pick and whose European pro season ended just days before the draft — di not play in his team’s summer opener and sat on the bench talking with Dennis Smith Jr. at times.

    Doncic still hasn’t gotten the clearance to sign his contract and hasn’t participated in a live practice with Dallas’ summer club yet.

    “We’re getting close to getting those things done, but we’re not there yet,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “But he will be in Vegas. He is going to continue to ramp up his workload.”

    The Suns Summer League roster features Ayton, along with last year’s first-round pick Josh Jackson and 2016 pick Dragan Bender. Both Jackson and Bender were everyday players for the Suns last season.

    The Suns have also been in the headlines recently for their contract extension talks with guard Devin Booker and signing of forward Trevor Ariza.

    Ariza joins forwards Dragan Bender, TJ Warren, Josh Jackson, Marquese Criss, Jared Dudley and Mikal Bridges on the roster.

    “The abundance of wings is intentional,” McDonough said on ESPN. “If you look at Golden State’s roster and Houston’s roster and Boston’s roster, those teams had a lot of wings and they’re versatile and they can dribble, pass and shoot. They can switch everything defensively, so that’s how we built our team as well.

    “That’s why we signed Trevor Ariza and that’s also why we traded to get Mikal Bridges.”

    The Suns are expected to sign Booker as soon as this weekend to a five year, $158 million extension.

    “We’re going to keep talking and I think there’s mutual interest on both sides in terms of pursuing a deal,” McDonough said of Booker.

    The Suns Summer League continues with their second game Saturday at 4:30 p.m. against Sacramento on ESPN in Las Vegas. Valley native Marvin Bagley is expected to play for the Kings, drafted with the number two pick just after Ayton.

    Before the NBA Draft Bagley said he would always have a chip on his shoulder if the Suns passed on him with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

    Bagley averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds in three games during the Sacramento Summer League before heading to Las Vegas.

    The Suns also play Sunday against Orlando at 6:30 p.m. on NBA TV. They’re guaranteed two additional games during tournament play, but they have not been scheduled yet.

    (The AP contributed)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.