SI names Suns’ Deandre Ayton most impressive rookie of first month

Nov 15, 2018, 1:30 PM
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) shoots the ball over Oklahoma Thunder center Steven Adams (1...

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) shoots the ball over Oklahoma Thunder center Steven Adams (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Kyle Phillips)

(AP Photo/Kyle Phillips)

One month into the season, it hasn’t been the start the Phoenix Suns hoped for. Some expected the team’s tanking days to be over, but after 14 games, the Suns are proving otherwise at 3-11.

But there has been a bright spot in these struggles: Deandre Ayton.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton has impressed in his first month the NBA. Averaging 16.0 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, Ayton has already made his mark on the young team.

Sports Illustrated agrees. Jeremy Woo named Ayton the most impressive rookie in the first month of the NBA season in his analysis of the 2018 rookie class.

Ayton’s performance has largely been as advertised: he’s averaging a double-double, he’s looked physically dominant, shown off his versatile offensive skill set and remains a defensive work in progress.

As the third-leading scorer on the Suns and the team’s leading rebounder, Ayton has made the most of his minutes.

While he’s been impressive in his first month, he hasn’t been perfect. It’s his play on the defensive end that’s caused the most concern thus far.

There have been some minor signs of disconnect—this week, coach Igor Kokoskov challenged Ayton to play with more urgency in a matchup with Anthony Davis, and Ayton didn’t quite seem to understand.

Even with these defensive miscues, all signs point to the rookie being a quick learner.

But his learning curve looks to be a quick one, and it’s reasonable to think Ayton can continue as an impactful double double guy for a decade as his other skills expand. That’s the statistical baseline that made him a worthy top selection to begin with.

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