Phoenix Suns: Opportunity opens for others after Ayton injury confirmation

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams will hope for multiple contributors as he seeks to account for the loss of starting big man Deandre Ayton.

The former number one overall pick hurt his left ankle in the opening quarter of Friday’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans, never returning to the floor after less than eight minutes of action.

Phoenix Suns’ backup bigs Bismack Biyombo, Jock Landale and Dario Saric could all benefit from Deandre Ayton’s absence over the next week.

Phoenix confirmed on Saturday that Ayton will miss at least one week, with Phoenix set to round out a six-game homestand against the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves and two outings against the Portland Trail Blazers on consecutive days.

Ayton leaves a seven-foot hole at the starting five, having begun the season in positive fashion following his new four-year, $133 million contract in the offseason. The 24-year-old had at least 13 points in each of his first four games, including a season-high 26 against the Trail Blazers last week. He also had 14 rebounds and four assists to go with 16 points in the dominant win over the Golden State Warriors.

His injury does open the door for the Suns backup bigs, primarily veteran center Bismack Biyombo. The 30-year-old has been stuck out of the rotation behind Ayton and Jock Landale, but produced 23 valuable minutes in the win over the Pelicans. The Suns hope his double-double (11 points and 13 rebounds) will be a sign of things to come, and given he started in the second half of that game, expect that to continue on a part-time basis till Ayton returns.

Landale has been a revelation so far in the backup role, and you can expect him to see a slight increase from the 16.2 minutes he’s averaging so far this season. The most fascinating watch will be Dario Saric, with the Croatian featuring for just two total minutes in five games.

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Of course, Williams will take a horses for courses approach to the center rotation depending on who’s playing well. However, if there had to be a minutes evaluation on it, then perhaps each of Biyombo and Landale for 18-20 minutes, and Saric for 8-10 minutes. If the situation gets a little desperate, then Williams could even be tempted to run some Torrey Craig at the five in a lineup of the Suns remaining four starters.