Five games is a very small sample size to jump to any conclusions but it’s been a rough start for the reigning Western Conference Champions in the Phoenix Suns.
They started off with a 1-3 record in the first four games and then in their most recent contest, they defeated the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, but lost starting center Deandre Ayton to a leg injury late in the game.
What is the latest on the status of the 23-year-old? Here are the latest updates on the center.
What is Deandre Ayton’s injury?
The center appeared to have injured his lower right leg. It is unclear when precisely Ayton hurt himself but it was quite noticeable when the 6-foot-11 center was absent from the team’s bench during the fourth quarter after he had subbed out at the 4:12 minute mark in the third quarter.
During the fourth quarter, the Suns would make it official. It was a ‘right leg contusion’ and that Ayton wouldn’t be returning for the remainder of the game.
Injury update: Deandre Ayton (right leg contusion) will not return tonight.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) October 31, 2021
In 24 minutes of action against the Cavaliers, he finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and a game-high plus-minus of +30.
How long is Deandre Ayton ruled out?
Going by the players and head coach Monty Williams’ postgame comments, the injury didn’t seem too serious.
Ayton was reportedly seen walking out of the arena with a slight limp, having banged knees with someone during the game.
There is no official word on the seriousness of Ayton’s injury and how long it would keep him out of action.
What is Deandre Ayton’s injury history?
Playing his fourth season, Ayton has proved to be quite the durable big man of the Suns.
Other than a 25-game suspension during the 2019-20 season, when he tested positive for a banned substance, he has only missed 24 games through his previous three seasons.
He took a big leap last season, although his season averages don’t tell the complete story, as he proved to be a key cog especially on the defensive end in the Suns’ road to the 2021 Finals. In his first playoffs, he averaged 15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds in 36.4 minutes on 65.8 percent shooting while playing some remarkable defence on Anthony Davis, league MVP Nikola Jokic and the small-ball heavy LA Clippers.
However, despite his value and performance, Ayton and the team failed to come to an agreement on a rookie contract extension, the deadline for which concluded prior to the season on Monday, Oct. 18.