DEANDRE Ayton was named one of three finalists for the 2018-19 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
The Phoenix Suns centre will vie against fellow nominees Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. The winner will be one of several winners announced at the 2019 NBA Awards Show presented by Kia, hosted June 24 at the Barker Hanger in Los Angeles, California, and broadcast live on TNT.
The other awards set to be announced include the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player (Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks, Paul George - Oklahoma City Thunder, James Harden - Houston Rockets); Kia NBA Sixth Man Award (Montrezl Harrell - LA Clippers, Domantas Sabonis - Indiana Pacers, Lou Williams - LA Clippers); Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year (Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks, Paul George - Oklahoma City Thunder, Rudy Gobert - Utah Jazz); Kia NBA Most Improved Player (De’Aaron Fox - Sacramento Kings, D’Angelo Russell - Brooklyn Nets, Pascal Siakam - Toronto Raptors) and NBA Coach of the Year (Mike Budenholzer - Milwaukee Bucks, Michael Malone - Denver Nuggets, Doc Rivers - LA Clippers).
The awards show will also feature the announcement of the winners for the NBA Basketball Executive of the Year Award, the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, the NBA Sportsmanship Award, the season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente, the NBA Hustle Award and the fan-voted House of Highlights Moment of the Year.
In addition, basketball icons Magic Johnson and Larry Bird will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and broadcasting legend Robin Roberts will be honoured with the Sager Strong Award.
Ayton’s debut season in the NBA had several milestones and the Phoenix Suns centre has established himself as a force in the league for years to come.
The No. 1 overall pick finished his rookie season with averages of 16.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.9 blocks on 59 per cent shooting from the field in 71 games. He missed five straight games with a sprained left ankle to conclude the season but still set several franchise records.
He finished with 39 double-doubles, a Suns rookie record and No.12 among all players. He also set the Suns rookie rebounding record with 729 boards. His field goal percentage was the third-highest in NBA history by a rookie qualified for the league leaderboard and the highest by a rookie who is averaging a double-double. Despite his individual success, the Suns finished at 19-63, the worst record in the Western Conference and the worst in franchise history since its first year of existence.
Ayton was selected as a member of the World Team for the 2019 Mountain Dew Ice Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend. He finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists but his Team World lost 161-144 to Team USA.
Ayton set a season high scoring of 33 against the Nuggets on December 29. He set his season high of 18 rebounds on three separate occasions November 2 against Toronto, December 19 against Boston and December 23 against Brooklyn. He recorded three blocks nine times and six assists twice.
During the offseason Ayton’s first impression on the NBA landscape produced his first league-wide award when he was named to the 2018 All-NBA Summer League Second Team.
When the Suns selected Ayton with the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, it represented a historic moment for Ayton, the franchise and The Bahamas. With Ayton’s selection, The Bahamas joined the United States, Canada, Nigeria and Australia as the only countries with multiple No 1 overall NBA draft picks. It also represented the first No 1 pick made by the Suns in franchise history and the first No 1 pick from the University of Arizona.
During his lone season at Arizona, Ayton led the NCAA with 24 double-doubles, a PAC-12 freshman record. He averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game while shooting 61.6 percent from the field, and was “Karl Malone Power Forward” of the year consensus First Team All-American.