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Deandre Ayton is second favorite to win Rookie of the Year, panel says

Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton dunks against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 6, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The 2018 NBA rookie class is one of the most anticipated groups in recent memory.

The class is headlined by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic.

ESPN put together a panel to determine the player most likely to win rookie of the year this upcoming season. The forecasters don’t expect the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft to take home the award.

Coming in second, Ayton finished with 68 total points and 24 percent of the first-place votes.

Ayton can register 20 and 10 in the box score by the virtue of his Zeus-like frame and tremendous agility. On a Suns team that lacks interior presence, Ayton is poised to play as many minutes as any other rookie in his class. He will provide instant value on the glass, and with Devin Booker as his likely pick-and-roll partner, Ayton can pop to midrange or dive into deep seals, finishing with strength and touch around the rim.

Taking home top honors was Doncic, who tallied 126 total points as well as 58 percent of the first-place votes from the panel.

Heading into his rookie season, Ayton is expected to serve an important role for the Suns as they continue rebuilding.

Under first-year head coach Igor Kokoskov the Suns aren’t expected to contend for a championship any time soon, but the organization is looking for steps in the right direction.

Ayton and Doncic were hotly debated about who should be selected with the top pick in the draft.

Memphis Grizzlies center Jaren Jackson Jr. finished third in the voting, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton was picked fourth and Chicago Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. was fifth.

Third overall pick and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young received the least amount of votes, including zero first place votes and seven total points.

Ayton coming away with the rookie of the year award could be a step in the right direction for an organization that has been longing for success.

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