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Survey: NBA GMs like Suns’ pick of Ayton, pickup of Ariza

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) boxes out Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III, right, during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

General managers like what the Phoenix Suns have cooking heading into the 2018-19 season.

It just might take time for the final product to come together.

In the annual GM survey for NBA.com, decision-makers were asked 49 over-arching questions about their league. The executives were not allowed to pick their own players or teams, and were not required to make picks for every question (hence, why the league provided percentages and not total votes for each answer).

Notably for the Suns, 27 percent of GMs who voted on which rookie will be the best player in five years tabbed first overall pick Deandre Ayton for that honor, tying the Phoenix center with Memphis big man Jaren Jackson Jr. atop the board.

Ayton only earned 13 percent of the vote when GMs were asked which rookie would win the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year award, with Dallas forward Luka Doncic, the No. 3 overall pick, garnering a strong 43 percent of the vote.

Ayton, who went No. 1 overall, even earned a small percentage of votes when executives were asked which rookie was the biggest steal.

Here’s a quick rundown of what else earned the Suns a nod from general managers across the NBA:

Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?

Devin Booker was listed as also receiving votes, behind Houston’s James Harden (73 percent), plus Golden State’s Klay Thompson (10 percent) and Stephen Curry (7 percent).

Paul George of Oklahoma City and Victor Oladipo from Indiana were the only other players to earn recognition in the category, as they also received votes.

What was the most underrated player acquisition?

Trevor Ariza, a free agency signing for Phoenix, earned 7 percent of the vote in this category, sixth-most in the NBA.

Suns rookie guard De’Anthony Melton also received votes after being acquired along with veteran forward Ryan Anderson in the trade of Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss to the Rockets.

Which team will be most improved in 2018-19?

Phoenix tied for second with 7 percent of the vote here. The Los Angeles Lakers, who signed LeBron James, earned 80 percent of the vote, while Dallas earned another 7 percent thanks to an expected jump with the draft-night deal to acquire Doncic from the Hawks and free agent addition of center DeAndre Jordan.

Which team has the most promising young core?

The Suns tied with the Chicago Bulls to earn 7 percent of the vote. General managers, however, like Philadelphia’s (47 percent) and Boston’s (33 percent) group of young players quite a bit more.

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