2018-19 Season Rewind: Deandre Ayton

FINAL LINE

16.3 points. 10.3 rebounds. 1.8 assists.

58.5 FG%. 74.6 FT%

0.9 steals. 0.9 blocks. 

BIGGEST PERFORMANCE

On Dec. 29 against the Denver Nuggets, Deandre Ayton scored a career-high 33 points on 16-of-20 shooting plus 14 rebounds (10 offensive) and a career-high 4 steals. Ayton became the first NBA rookie to shoot at least 80% from the field on 20-plus attempts since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984. Aside from his historic scoring efficiency, Ayton became the first rookie since at least 1983 with 10-plus offensive rebounds and 4-plus steals in a game (Basketball-Reference). 

Ayton scored 24 points on 12-of-13 shooting in the second quarter with his 12 field goals being a Suns franchise record for most in a quarter, besting the previous mark of 11 shared by Stephon Marbury and Eddie Johnson. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ayton became the first NBA rookie to score at least 24 points in a quarter since Brandon Jennings scored 29 points for Milwaukee in 2009. Ayton’s 24 points were the sixth-most points in a quarter in Suns history and most by a Suns rookie.

LEAGUE RANKINGS

First among rookies and 13th overall in rebounds per game (10.3).

First among rookies and 10th overall in field goal percentage (58.5%).

First among rookies and 12th overall in double-doubles (39).

First among rookies in dunks (134), 4th among rookies in scoring (16.3), 4th in blocks (0.94), 8th in steals (0.86), 6th in free throw percentage (74.6%) and 9th in assists per game (1.8).

Looking at advanced metrics, Ayton ranks 2nd among rookies in Win Shares with 5.8 (Basketball-Reference), 2nd with a Player Impact Estimate of 13.9 (NBA.com/Stats) and 2nd with a Player Efficiency Rating of 20.54 (ESPN).

MAKING NBA HISTORY 

Ayton averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 58.5% from the field. It is the highest field goal percentage by a rookie averaging a double-double in NBA history. It is also the third-highest field goal percentage by a qualified rookie ever (Steve Johnson and Otis Thorpe).

Ayton is just the 12th rookie in the Lottery Era (since 1985) to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ten of the previous 12 won Rookie of the Year.

According to Basketball-Reference, Ayton’s 74 assists through his first 30 career games were the most by any NBA center through his first 30 games since Chris Webber had 111 in 1993-94.

In three straight games from Dec. 19-23, Ayton posted 20-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and shot 60% from the field, averaging 25 points and 17.7 rebounds while shooting 70.8%. According to Basketball-Referencfe, Ayton is the only NBA rookie since at least 1983-84 to have a streak of at least three straight games with 20-plus point and 15-plus boards on 60-plus percent shooting. 

Efficient from the field and the free throw line, Ayton had a True Shooting Percentage of 60.8% for the second-highest True Shooting Percentage by a rookie averaging at least 15 points in NBA history (trailing only Bill Cartwright in 1979-80).

Ayton finished just shy (74.6 FT%) of being the first rookie and just 10th different player overall in NBA history to record a season averaging at least 10 points and 10 rebounds while shooting at least 55% from the field and 75% from the free throw line. The complete list of players to do so, which includes seven Hall of Famers, are Brad Daugherty, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Artis Gilmore, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Swen Nater and Jerry Lucas. 

Ayton’s 39 double-doubles rank 1st among rookies (12th overall) and are nine more than second place Trae Young. Ayton reached his 30th in his 51st career game, since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992-93, only Blake Griffin, Emeka Okafor and Tim Duncan have gotten to the mark in fewer career games than Ayton’s 51 (Basketball-Reference).

ENTERING SUNS HISTORY BOOKS 

Ayton’s 10.3 rebounds per game rank 1st ever by a Suns rookie (previous 9.1 by Alvan Adams in 1975-76) and his 16.3 points per game rank 3rd most by a Suns rookie (Walter Davis 24.2 and Alvan Adams 19.0). Ayton recorded 729 total rebounds, surpassing Adams’ Suns rookie record of 727 rebounds.

Ayton’s 39 double-doubles are a Suns rookie record, topping Alvan Adams’ 37 in 1975-76.

Among Suns players through 71 career games…

-Ayton’s 1,159 are the 3rd most all-time behind the Suns’ two all-time leading scorers who each won Rookie of the Year (Walter Davis and Alvan Adams).

-Ayton’s 729 rebounds are 1st all-time.

-Ayton’s 39 double-doubles are 1st most all-time.

Ayton scored 10-plus points in 19 straight games from Jan. 12-March 13, the 5th longest streak at least 10 points by a Suns rookie (Walter Davis, Alvan Adams twice, Michael Finley).

Ayton had 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in four straight games from Dec. 17-23, tying Alvan Adams for the longest such streak by a rookie in Suns franchise history.

KEY STATS

Ayton had an outstanding NBA debut, recording 18 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists vs Dallas. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first player to record at least 18/10/6 in an NBA debut since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did so for Milwaukee in 1969. The only other player to do so since 1960 is Oscar Robertson.

In 41 minutes on the court together in March, the five-man lineup of Tyler Johnson, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ayton outscored opponents by a score of 131-101, a difference of +30 points. This lineup shot 50% from the field and made 42-of-46 (91.3%) free throws.

Five different Suns rookies (Ayton, Mikal Bridges, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo, Ray Spalding) each had at least one game scoring 19-plus points this season. They are the only NBA team over at least the last 10 seasons to have five rookies do so.

In December, Ayton, Devin Booker and T.J. Warren each scored 20-plus points in three straight games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the previous time a trio of Suns players each scored 20-plus points in at least three straight games was a four-game streak in 1970 when Gail Goodrich, Dick Van Arsdale and Connie Hawkins each did so.

Of the Suns’ points this season, 60.2 percent were scored by players age 22 or younger. This is the highest percentage of any team in the NBA this season and the fifth highest of any team in NBA history with Ayton joining Devin Booker and Josh Jackson as the Suns top three scorers age 22 or younger.

End of Season Interviews: Deandre Ayton

WHAT HE’S SAYING 

“My rookie season… It was good. I learned a lot. I learned the hard way, which is perfect. I think I’ve seen the trenches of this league and I can learn from it. I wouldn’t say I went through all bad. We did a lot of great things, learned a lot of great things and I definitely got better, stronger. Stronger mentally as well.” 

WHERE HE SAW HIS GAME GROW: “When things don’t go my way I still try to find a way to win. If one end of the ball isn’t working for me, I can enhance the other end and really emphasis and help the team win.”

OTHER PLAYERS IN THE LEAGUE HE’D WANT TO WORKOUT WITH: “Probably Andre Drummond. He gave me a couple words of advice and I really respect that.”

FOCUS THIS OFFSEASON: “Really pushing the ball like Giannis. This game is changing rapidly.”

OFFSEASON PLANS: “Phoenix is home. So, I’m definitely staying in Phoenix for quite a while.”

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