The Phoenix Suns rested former Kentucky stars Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight toward the end of the season in order to get a better look at their young talent. Surely, the Suns like what they saw when it comes to rookie guard Tyler Ulis.
On Friday, Ulis, a consensus first-team All-American last season at Kentucky, was named the Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of April. Ulis averaged 20.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game in six April games and played 38.0 minutes per game during the NBA regular season’s final month. He is the first rookie to average at least 20.7 points and 6.8 assists per game for a calendar month since Damian Lillard in March of 2013.
According to the Suns, Ulis is the fifth different Suns player to win the monthly rookie honor and this is just the sixth Rookie of the Month won by a Sun since the award’s inception in 1981-82.
Ulis nearly posted a triple-double on April 2 against the Houston Rockets. He scored a career-high 34 points, hitting 15-of-22 shots from the field and 3 of 7 from beyond the arc, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out nine assists.
The 5-foot-10 floor general had a double-double in a win over the Dallas Mavericks on April 9 when he scored 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and passed out 10 assists versus three turnovers. It was the only time all season in which a rookie had at least 20 points and 10 assists in a game.
He closed out the regular season with 27 points, four rebounds and six assists to just one turnover against the Sacramento Kings.
Ulis played in 25 games after the NBA All-Star break and averaged 13.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. He started each of the last 15 games of the season, averaging 16.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 8.5 assists in 39.5 minutes per game during that stretch. Ulis logged all six of his double-doubles during those 15 starts, which ended up being the fourth most in the NBA among rookies, and posted a 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio during that stretch.
Ulis finished his rookie season in the association with averages of 7.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Among rookies, he was 14th in the league in scoring, third in assists and his 0.8 steals per game ranked eighth.
It was the second time this season that an NBA Cat was named Rookie of the Month. On Dec. 1, Jamal Murray was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November.
Three UK signees competing in 2017 Jordan Brand Classic