Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Deandre Ayton #22 and Bismack Biyombo #18 of the Phoenix Suns celebrate after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA game at Footprint Center on October 19, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 107-105. Christian Petersen/Getty Images


  • The Phoenix Suns mounted a 22-point comeback against the Dallas Mavericks
  • Deandre Ayton's impact on the floor could not be understated enough
  • His contributions late in the game allowed Damion Lee to take the game-winner

The Phoenix Suns were matched up with the Dallas Mavericks on opening night, and Deandre Ayton once again showcased just how important he is to the success of the team after pulling out a miraculous comeback on opening night.

The Mavericks, led by young superstar Luka Doncic, were on the cusp of once again breaking the hearts of Suns fans when they entered halftime with a 17-point advantage as Ayton was forced to sit the majority of the first two quarters due to early foul trouble.

Just when it seemed as if the Mavericks were on pace to remind the Suns of Game 7 in the 2022 Western Conference Finals, the 2018 first-overall pick showcased why he deserved the selection.

Whether it was contesting three-pointers, grabbing contested rebounds or scoring points in the paint, Ayton was quick to remind both Dallas and Phoenix fans that they should never count him out.

With just four points in the first half, a fiery Ayton scored eight of his 15 points in the third quarter alone while his pick-and-roll game allowed his guards to perform at their highest.

A multitude of guards benefitted from "DA" being on the floor–Devin Booker, Cameron Payne and Damion Lee all felt confident in taking their shots or passing the ball to someone else with the knowledge that Ayton was there to clean up.

For the rest of the game, the Mavericks had to deal with an energized Ayton running all over the floor on both ends of the court as he anchored the defense while also scoring his favorite turnaround jump hook.

It should be noted that Ayton, alongside backup bigs Jock Landale and Bismack Biyombo, should also shoulder the blame for allowing Christian Wood to explode for 25 points including a 15-point solo run to keep Dallas within striking distance.

However, his presence on the court alone allowed the guards to operate in crunch time as they sought to mount a comeback from 22 points down.

In the final sequence of the Suns' offense, the Mavericks' defense collapsed on Booker to prevent him from making a play and tried to get the ball to Ayton inside the paint for a quick bucket.

Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith recognized this and stuck to Ayton for the entirety of it which allowed Lee, a free agent signing, to get off the game-winner despite Spencer Dinwiddie closely defending him.

As Phoenix carried a 107-105 lead with 9.7 seconds on the clock and no timeouts remaining, the Mavericks scrambled to put together a shot and Doncic's miss allowed the Suns to pull off the improbable victory.

For as much criticism as Ayton received in the offseason and in their playoff meltdown against Dallas last season, the Bahamian big man deserves credit for taking on the challenge in the season opener.

Without his interior presence and 10 boards, it would not be impossible to think that the Mavericks' lead would have ballooned past 22 points.

Though Ayton is not expected to put up big numbers on the box score, the most ardent of Suns fans understand that his value to them will be based on the intangibles–energy, effort and intensity just to name a few.

This game proved that the Suns need Ayton more than their fans would want to originally believe and the 24-year-old big man is out to prove this season that he deserved the trust of the Suns' front office.

Damion Lee, Cameron Payne
Damion Lee #10 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a turnover by the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on October 19, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 107-105. Christian Petersen/Getty Images