Suns' Deandre Ayton Won't Play vs. Hawks Because of Leg Injury

Doric SamNovember 6, 2021

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton is out for Saturday's game against the Atlanta Hawks because of a leg injury, according to Duane Rankin of AZCentral.com.

The 23-year-old was held out of Phoenix's contest against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday after being diagnosed with a right leg contusion. He appeared to have suffered the injury last week against the Cleveland Cavaliers when he exited the game in the third quarter and didn't return.

After being drafted No. 1 overall by Phoenix in 2018, Ayton has established himself as one of the NBA's best young big men. Through six games this season, he is averaging 14.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 assists per game, while shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

The Arizona product was a key part of the Suns' run to the NBA Finals last season, averaging 15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds on 65.8 percent shooting in the 2021 postseason. 

Despite his strong performance in the playoffs, Ayton and Phoenix were unable to come to an agreement on a rookie contract extension before the Oct. 18 deadline. He will be a restricted free agent after this season.

With Ayton out, veteran center JaVale McGee will likely step into the starting lineup. The 33-year-old is averaging 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game this season.

Second-year big man Jalen Smith could see some more playing time. Power forward Frank Kaminsky may also be asked to fill in at center.