That’s gonna leave a mark.
Aron Baynes has already been declared out for Wednesday night’s Phoenix Suns game against Orlando after missing the road trip-opener Monday in Charlotte. This time, it’s with a left calf strain. Baynes already missed five games in November with a hip injury.
It’s fair to ask — what’s going on here?
A summer full of basketball certainly couldn’t have helped. Baynes helped lead Australia to the finals of the FIBA World Cup in Shanghai before the season after a playoff run with Boston that lasted into May.
The big man is also 33. In terms of longevity, Baynes is lucky that he didn’t have to go through 82-game NBA seasons until he was 25. That means he has fewer miles on his body against elite competition, but even still, his career looks to be wearing on him now.
Also a factor is Baynes’ increased workload in the aftermath of Deandre Ayton’s suspension. Baynes was thrust into the starting role in Phoenix and is averaging 24 minutes per game, by far the most of his career. The Kiwi already has more minutes in Year Eight than he played as a rookie in San Antonio.
There’s no one factor here that is leading to Baynes’ prolonged absence from the lineup, says Jeff Stotts.
Baynes’ busy offseason “could be a variable,” Stotts says, “but there’s no guaranteed cause and effect.”
Stotts is the proprietor of InStreetClothes.com as well as an injury analyst for SMART and Rotowire. He says the amount of stress on Baynes’ body lately may have played a role in his injuries but is — again — not the only factor at play.
“We know his workload increased over the summer so his cumulative or chronic workload is likely elevated,” Stotts says, “while his acute workload (recent activity) is likely elevated too.”
This type of calculation can help medical professionals measure fatigue, but it’s just one of the variables that goes into an injury.
Whatever the reason for his injuries, the Suns need Baynes badly right now. There are two weeks to go until Ayton returns, and the man starting in Baynes’ place — Frank Kaminsky — is one of the worst statistical pieces of the team so far.
At least Orlando, tomorrow’s opponent, is also missing their starting center, Nikola Vucevic. So Frank and Dario Saric will have to contend with the like of Jonathan Isaac and Khem Birch, with Mo Bamba coming off the bench. An athletic but offensively challenged group.