NBA Rookies Predict Deandre Ayton, Collin Sexton Will Be Co-Rookies of the Year

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2018

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 12: DeAndre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot on August 12, 2018 at the Madison Square Garden Training Facility in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

When it comes to the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year race, this year's draft class had a hard time deciding who would stand out above all the rest.

In the league's annual rookie survey, via John Schuhmann of NBA.com, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton were picked to be co-Rookies of the Year. They each received 18 percent of the votes, respectively.

Ayton was the top pick in this year's draft, while Sexton went eighth overall. 

Ayton joins a Phoenix squad that finished with the worst record in the league at 21-61 and is in the midst of an eight-year playoff drought. In four summer-league contests, the 7'1" center averaged 14.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.

Sexton, meanwhile, was drafted before LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now, Sexton's role has changed dramatically as he will be tasked with contributing more without the four-time NBA MVP leading the way.

The Cavs could still be in playoff contention with five-time All-Star Kevin Love as the centerpiece. If Sexton can help Cleveland make the postseason, that would only enhance his resume.

Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic and New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox finished tied for third with nine percent each. Of note, Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young and the Denver Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. each got six percent of the votes.

It's important to take these results with a grain of salt. Since the survey was first conducted back in 2007, rookies have correctly predicted the winner just once in nine attempts: Kevin Durant in 2007. That does come with an asterisk, though, as Blake Griffin was chosen to be the winner in 2009; an injury sidelined him that year, but he won the award in his first year on the court in 2010-11.

While the rookie class chose Ayton and Sexton to stand out the most in Year 1, Chicago Bulls forward Wendell Carter Jr. was forecasted to have the best overall career. Minnesota Timberwolves forward Keita Bates-Diop (No. 48 overall) was named as the biggest steal of the draft after winning the Big Ten Player of the Year award and being named a second-team All-American.

Young was dubbed the top shooter and the top playmaker, Philadelphia 76ers guard Zhaire Smith was picked as the most athletic and Memphis Grizzlies guard Jevon Carter was declared the best defender.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James (29 percent) was the overwhelming choice for favorite player among incoming rookies. The Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant followed behind at nine percent.

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