By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
DEANDRE Ayton will be showcased on national television to highlight the NBA's opening week schedule for local fans eager to see this year's top overall pick.
The NBA announced its national television schedule for the opening week of the 2018-19 regular season yesterday and Ayton's Phoenix Suns will tip off ESPN's coverage with a matchup against the Dallas Mavericks at 10:30pm October 17.
The game will feature Ayton against the No.3 overall pick in the draft, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, in their regular season debuts.
The NBA regular season tips off on October 16 and the complete game schedule and broadcast schedules for TNT, ESPN, ABC, NBA TV and ESPN Radio will be announced on Friday, August 10.
The first six days of the 2018-19 season (October 16-21) will feature 15 different teams playing 11 national television games across TNT, ESPN and NBA TV as part of Kia NBA Tip-Off 2018. TNT and ESPN will each present two doubleheaders during the season's first four days. The Suns/Mavericks game will be the second game of a double header, preceeded by the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans at 8pm.
Last week, we learned that Ayton and Buddy Hield will have their first head-to-head game in the NBA preseason when the Suns host the Sacramento Kings at Talking Stick Resort and Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 1.
The Suns will play a five-game preseason schedule which tips off with three home games and concludes with two road contests.
Following the game against the Kings, the Suns will face the New Zealand Breakers of Australia's National Basketball League on Wednesday, October 3 and the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, October 5.
The Suns' matchup against New Zealand marks the second consecutive year the club has hosted a team from the NBL, defeating the Brisbane Bullets 114-93 during the 2017 preseason.
The road slate is highlighted by a matchup against the defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors on Monday, October 8.
For the Kings, they follow the matchup against the Suns with a back-to-back set at Los Angeles on Thursday, October 4 and in Seattle versus Golden State on Friday, October 5.
The Kings return to the Golden One Center in Sacramento for its preseason home opener versus Maccabi Haifa on Monday, October 8. It will be the third tie in four seasons they are set to face the Israeli powerhouse.
The Kings round out their home exhibition schedule when they host the Utah Jazz on Thursday, October 11 and conclude with a matchup against the Portland Trailblazers on Friday, October 12.
Both players were recently at home and took the time to participate in charitable events and summer basketball camps.
Ayton made an appearance at the 31st Jeff Rodgers Basketball camp to interact with scores of enthusiastic campers eager to greet the No.1 overall pick in last June's NBA Draft.
Ayton was discovered locally at the Jeff Rodgers camp in 2011, before he headed to Balboa City School in San Diego, California. He eventually transferred to Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.
Buddy Hield was back in Grand Bahama to host the fourth edition of his summer basketball camp. He hosted the three-day event simultaneously in Freeport and Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama.