The Phoenix Suns took the court in Detroit on Sunday to try and pick up their sixth win in their last seven games. That task got much harder after starting center Deandre Ayton left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
Deandre Ayton (ankle sprain) will not return to the game.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 16, 2022
"> Suns ruled out Ayton for the remainder of Sunday's contest late in the first half. The official diagnosis given for the former No. 1 overall pick was a right ankle sprain.
It's unclear exactly when Ayton suffered the injury but eight minutes into the first quarter he motioned to the Phoenix bench for a sub. He came off the court shortly after and did not return.
The injury ended a strong start to Sunday's game for Ayton. Prior to leaving the contest, the Suns big man was 3-for-3 with six points, two assists and a steal.
Ayton has picked up where he left off last season with his performance on the court. In 27 games, all of which he's started, the 23-year-old is averaging 17.1 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. He's also shooting a career-high 63.3 percent from the floor.
It's been an impressive showing from the fourth-year big man, especially since he was the subject of some controversy this past offseason. The Suns opted to not offer Ayton a maximum rookie contract extension over the summer, leading many to wonder if tension would carry over into the season.
That hasn't seemed to be the case as Phoenix has been firing on all cylinders through the first half of the 2021-22 campaign. The Suns hold an NBA-best 32-9 record and look to be well set-up for another deep postseason run.
Phoenix will need to hope that Ayton's ankle sprain isn't serious and that he can rejoin the team as soon as possible.