Phoenix Suns: How Their Rookies Can Contribute Right Away

DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix Suns, NBA
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

DeAndre Ayton

DeAndre Ayton was slated as a top prospect since the early part of his high school career. He had high expectations to live up to at Arizona, and he managed to rise to the occasion. Ayton was a force to be reckoned with during last college basketball season, in terms of both scoring and rebounding.

He averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, the latter of which led the Pac-12. Ayton also led his conference in field goals, total rebounds, PER, eFG%, offensive rating, and win shares. These statistics earned him the prestigious honor of being named the Pac-12 Player of the Year. Winning that particular award puts him in some good company, as Ayton’s name now stands with stars of the game such as James Harden, Kevin Love, Jason Kidd, and Gary Payton.

Despite only being 20 years old, Ayton’s physical makeup puts him among the elite big men in the NBA. He stands at 7’0″ with a 7’5″ wingspan. At Arizona, he showed that he can be a versatile scorer, shooting 61% from the field overall and 34% from three. He’s shown a willingness and ability to attempt to score, not only on the low block but also facing up and taking mid-range shots.

With Alex Len no longer with the team and Tyson Chandler’s age likely forcing a more diminished role, Ayton will see the lion’s share of minutes at the center position. With Ayton, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and TJ Warren, the Suns will likely have at least one capable offensive player on the floor at all times, if not multiple.

The impact of Ayton’s rebounding will be seen right away, as the Suns ranked 22nd in the NBA last season in rebounds from the center position. Phoenix’s centers also were third-to-last in the league in scoring, so Ayton can also help if his production is in any way similar to his output in college.

Ayton’s one weakness has been his lack of prowess as a rim protector, but a combination of athletic ability, size and former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler as a mentor can help with that.

Next Up: Mikal Bridges

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