Deandre Ayton is sometimes in disbelief that 19-year-old Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is a rookie.
The Suns drafted Ayton out of Arizona with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He says he’s watched plenty of Doncic, who was taken with the third-overall pick in 2018, and he’s very impressed.
“I watch his games all the time. He’s a beast,” Ayton said, via The Undefeated. “I’m like, ‘Aw, what the heck, there is no way Doncic is a rookie.’ That is what I say sometimes when I watch him play. He’s been there [professionally]. He’s been in situations like this.”
Doncic appears to be running away with the Rookie of the Year race, averaging 19.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists so far this season.
Ayton is posting solid numbers himself, but isn’t receiving nearly as much praise as his Slovenian counterpart.
“I cringe a little bit,” Ayton said. “I have family and friends who always talk about it. I hear them. I try not to really buy into that stuff. Obviously, it gives me a little edge. I just want to go out there for my teammates and just play.”
Ayton is averaging 16.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists for a 10-32 Suns team sitting last in the Western Conference. Phoenix has a bevy of talented young players, but it has some developing to do.
Ayton will get a chance to go head to head with Doncic as the Suns play the Mavericks in Dallas on Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET.