Deandre Ayton’s ankle sprain in Friday night’s win by the Phoenix Suns will keep him sidelined at least a week when he’ll be re-evaluated, the team says.
While Ayton has struggled with a few ankle problems over his career, this one was more flukey: a crash landing of sorts coming down from a jumper on Jonas Valanciunas’s foot.
Deandre Ayton left tonight's game with a sprained ankle and will not return. pic.twitter.com/eh8re1jlnr— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) October 29, 2022
Suns head coach Monty Williams explained after practice on Saturday that he didn’t believe Valanciunas’s foot placement to be “malicious,” meanwhile Duane Rankin from azcentral reported that Ayton wasn’t getting up shots during the open portion of the same practice.
That week-long period before Ayton’s ankle is re-evaluated looks something like this (including big matchups):
- Sun. 10/30 vs Rockets (Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba)
- Tue. 11/1 vs Wolves (Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Naz Reid)
- Fri. 11/4 vs Blazers (Jusuf Nurkic, Drew Eubanks)
- Sat. 11/5 vs Blazers
...and just two days after that the Suns’ homestand ends, and they’ll have a date with Joel Embiid in Philadelphia against the 76ers, so the injury may linger into that as well.
As for what the Suns’ big rotation will look like in the meantime, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like Bismack Biyombo with the starters just to minimize changing the way that unit plays together.
Biyombo is a lot more pick-and-roll, paint-based whereas Jock Landale is more of a connector in space that’s already developed chemistry with Cam Payne and the bench squad. Not to mention that Biyombo finished the Pelicans game with 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 23 minutes, playing a lot of those minutes with some of the starters.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Landale ends up closing a few games over the stretch just depending on how each game goes. It could totally end up being a situation where whoever has the hot hand gets to finish.
This is also a window for Dario Saric to possibly find some playing time after he’s only logged 2 total minutes over the first 5 games. Williams touched on that possibility as well following Saturday’s practice.
Suns will have to hope that a hot hand does show up, especially in matchups like Minnesota or Philly (if it gets that far) when opposing frontcourts pose a real problem.