Deandre Ayton led all rookies in rebounds per game, double-doubles and field goal percentage, and could have an award to show for it.
The Suns' No. 1 overall draft pick last year and a former Arizona Wildcat standout, Ayton on Friday was announced as one of three finalists for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award. The NBA awards show is June 24 at 6 p.m. on TNT. The other Rookie of the Year candidates are Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Hawks sharpshooter Trae Young.
Ayton averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds while logging 39 double-doubles and shooting 58.5% from the field, the 10th-best shooting mark in the league.
He was the 12th rookie since 1985 to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds; 10 won Rookie of the Year. The most previous to do so was Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016.
Ayton's averages were just below those as a freshman at Arizona, but his game seemed to translate just fine to the NBA. Ayton became the first rookie since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984 to shoot 80% from the floor with at least 20 shot attempts when he scored a career-high 33 points on 16-of-20 shooting against the Nuggets on Dec. 29.
Young averaged 19.1 points, 8.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds while starting 81 games for Atlanta. He shot 41.8% from the field and 32.4% from 3; he was second among rookies in free-throw percentage at 82.8%. Doncic led all rookies with 21.2 points per game for Dallas, while grabbing 7.8 rebounds a game and averaging six assists. Doncic ranked second in rebounds for a rookie behind Ayton.
Ayton would join Damon Stoudamire (1996) as the only former Arizona Wildcats to win Rookie of the Year.