Suns center Deandre Ayton named finalist for Rookie of the Year

May 17, 2019, 5:13 PM | Updated: 9:34 pm
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton was named a finalist for the NBA’s 2018-19 Rookie of the Year Friday, the NBA announced.

Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, was the only rookie to average a double-double. Ayton’s 10.3 rebounds per game was the top mark among rookies and his 16.3 points per game ranked fourth behind Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Collin Sexton.

The 20-year-old’s rookie season was the most efficient historically given his production levels. Ayton is one of 35 rookies to average at least 16 points and 10 rebounds a game and his 60.8 TS% is the best of them all. Ayton is the the third rookie this decade to average a double-double, joining Blake Griffin and Karl-Anthony Towns.

That would lead you to believe Ayton is the favorite for the award, but he faces stiff competition this year from the two other finalists Doncic and Young.

Doncic’s line of 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game has only been done once in league history by a rookie and that’s all the way back to Oscar Robertson in 1961. As a multi-faceted playmaker and scorer, Doncic was efficient as well, posting a 54.5 TS%. Among the 16 rookies in league history to average at least 20 points and four assists a game, that true shooting percentage ranks fourth behind Robertson, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Young rode a late-season surge where he put up All-Star numbers after the All-Star break. He became the 14th rookie in NBA history to average at least eight assists a game, and only Robertson (30.5) scored more per game than Young (19.1) among that group. To repeat the theme of efficient rookies, Young’s 53.9 TS% is third among those 14 players.

The winner will be revealed at the 2019 NBA Awards, which take place on June 24.

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