Phoenix Suns

What should the Phoenix Suns expect from Deandre Ayton in his rookie season?

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Shaquille O'Neal, Deandre Ayton and Karl-Anthony Towns (NBA Getty Images)

After a disappointing 21-61 finish in the 2017-18 season, the Phoenix Suns won the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft for the first time in franchise history.

Phoenix elected to take 7-foot-1 centre Deandre Ayton with its first pick, making Ayton just the third centre taken with the first overall pick in the last 10 drafts.

ayton-silver-draft-101818-ftr-nba-gettyIn the Las Vegas Summer League, Ayton looked the part of a No. 1 pick, averaging 14.5 points (on 60.0 percent shooting) to go along with 10.0 rebounds in four games. The 2018 preseason has been no different - over five games, Ayton averaged 18.2 points (on 60.3 shooting), 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in just under 27 minutes per contest.

So what is to come for Ayton in his rookie season? Surrounded by a talented young core in Phoenix that consists of Mikal Bridges, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and TJ Warren, as well as a mentor in Tyson Chandler, it would appear that the best is yet to come.

If the rookie season of the last centre taken No. 1 (Karl-Anthony Towns) is any indicator, Suns fans will have plenty to look forward to in 2018-19.

For more perspective, let's take a look back at the more notable rookie seasons and careers of centres selected first overall…

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2015 - Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
2015-16 20 82 32.0 18.3 10.5 1.7 2.0

Honours: All-Rookie First Team, 2016 Rookie of the Year

Towns' rookie campaign saw him record 52 double-doubles to help the Wolves increase their win total from the previous season by 13 games. In 2017-18, Towns earned an NBA All-Star selection and All-NBA honours for the first time.

2012 - Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
2012-13 19 64 28.8 13.5 8.2 1.8 1.0

Honours: All-Rookie First Team

In the 2012-13 season, Davis showed some flashes of what was to come, scoring 20 or more points on 10 occasions. His performance as a 19-year-old rookie was good enough to earn him All-Rookie First Team honours, but he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Damian Lillard.

Davis has since earned five NBA All-Star selections (winning MVP of the game in 2017), three All-NBA selections, three All-Defensive Team selections and been the league's block champion three times.

2004 - Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
2004-05 19 82 32.6 12.0 10.0 1.7 0.9

Honours: All-Rookie First Team

As a rookie, Howard helped Orlando increase its win total from the previous year by 15 games, earning All-Rookie First Team honours and finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor.

Over the course of his 15-year career, Howard has earned eight All-Star selections, eight All-NBA selections, five All-Defensive Team selections and won Defensive Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons (2008-11).

2002 - Yao Ming, Houston Rockets

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
2002-03 22 82 29.0 13.5 8.2 1.8 1.7

Honours: 2003 NBA All-Star, All-Rookie First Team

With Yao in the fold, the Rockets went from a 28-win team to a 43-win team. As a rookie, the 7-foot-6 centre recorded 27 double-doubles and blocked more than three shots on 26 occasions. His play and popularity resulted in him being voted an All-Star starter in his first season. He would go on to finish second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Amar'e Stoudemire.

In eight seasons, Yao was selected to eight All-Star teams and earned five All-NBA selections. He retired in 2011 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

1997 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
1997-98 21 82 39.1 21.1 11.9 2.5 2.7

Honours: 1998 NBA All-Star, All-Rookie First Team, 1998 Rookie of the Year

Duncan immediately took the league by storm, as he was selected by the coaches to be an All-Star reserve in his rookie year. Along with David Robinson, Duncan helped lead the Spurs to 56 wins and the Western Conference semifinals.

Over the course of his 19-year career, Duncan won five NBA titles (three-time Finals MVP), two league MVPs and earned 15 All-Star, All-NBA and All-Defensive Team selections.

1992 - Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando Magic

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
1992-93 20 81 37.9 23.4 13.9 3.5 1.9

Honours: 1993 NBA All-Star, All-Rookie First Team, 1993 Rookie of the Year

As evidenced by the numbers in his rookie year, Shaq wasted no time making his mark in the league. As a rookie, the fans voted him in as an All-Star and he also finished seventh in MVP voting.

In addition to winning four NBA titles (and three Finals MVPs), two scoring titles and league MVP in 2000, O'Neal earned 15 All-Star selections (three-time All-Star Game MVP), 14 All-NBA selections and three All-Defensive Team selections in 19 seasons. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

1987 - David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
1989-90 24 82 36.6 24.3 12.0 3.9 2.0

Honours: 1990 NBA All-Star, All-Rookie First Team, 1990 Rookie of the Year

Though he was selected first in 1987, Robinson's active-duty obligation to the U.S. Naval Academy meant his NBA debut would not come until 1989, and it was well worth the wait.

After winning just 21 games in the 1988-89 season, Robinson led the Spurs to a 56-26 record in 1989-90 and finished sixth in MVP voting as a 24-year-old rookie.

Robinson would go on to win two NBA titles with the Spurs, 1992 Defensive Player of the Year, 1995 NBA MVP, a rebounding title (1991), one blocks title (1992) and one scoring title (1994). The Spurs legend also earned 10 All-Star selections, 10 All-NBA selections, eight All-Defensive Team selections and is a member of the 2009 Basketball Hall of Fame class.

1985 - Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
1985-86 23 50 35.4 20.0 9.0 2.1 2.0

Honours: 1986 NBA All-Star, All-Rookie First Team, 1986 Rookie of the Year

Despite missing 32 games in his rookie season, Ewing was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team and was named Rookie of the Year after scoring 20 or more points on 27 occasions and recording 17 double-doubles.

In 17 seasons, Ewing was named an All-Star 11 times, earned seven All-NBA Team selections and three All-Defensive Team selections. He is New York's all-time scoring leader with 23,665 points scored while wearing a Knicks uniform and is a member of the 2008 Basketball Hall of Fame class.

1984 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
1984-85 22 82 35.5 20.6 11.9 2.7 1.4

Honours: 1985 NBA All-Star, All-Rookie First Team

Sharing the forntcourt with 1984 Rookie of the Year Ralph Sampson, Olajuwon helped the Rockets increase their win total from the previous year by 19 games. Hakeem was outstanding in his rookie campaign, but finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to a guy named Michael Jordan.

Olajuwon spent 18 seasons in the NBA, winning back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995 (and was named Finals MVP both years), and was named Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons (1993 and 1994). He also earned 12 All-Star selections, 12 All-NBA selections, nine All-Defensive Team selections and was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

1983 - Ralph Sampson, Houston Rockets

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
1983-84 23 82 32.8 21.0 11.1 2.4 2.0

Honours: 1984 NBA All-Star, All-Rookie First Team, 1984 Rookie of the Year

Sampson scored in double-figures in all but five games in his rookie season, including a 41-point outburst over the defending-champion 76ers. His efforts as a rookie earned him his first of four All-Star selections as well as the 1984 Rookie of the Year award.

Injuries hindered the 7-foot-4 centre midway through his career, which was shortened to just nine seasons. Sampson retired with career averages of 15.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

1969 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks

Season Age G MPG PTS REB BLK AST
1969-70 22 82 43.1 28.8 14.5 - 4.1

Honours: 1970 NBA All-Star, All-Rookie First Team, 1970 Rookie of the Year

As a rookie, the 7-foot-2 centre put the league on notice, scoring 30 or more points 32 different times, including a 51-point game against the Seattle SuperSonics. His play earned him a spot on the All-Star team and the 1970 Rookie of the Year award.

Abdul-Jabbar played for 20 seasons, winning six NBA titles, six NBA MVP awards, two Finals MVPs and is the league's all-time leading scorer with a seemingly-untouchable 38,387 career points. He also earned 19 All-Star selections, 15 All-NBA selections and 11 All-Defensive Team selections.

Kareem was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

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