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Deandre Ayton leaves Sunday’s game vs. Pistons with ankle injury

Suns center was unable to finish the game. We break down the fantasy basketball impact.

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks on during the game against the Indiana Pacers on January 14, 2022 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton left Sunday afternoon’s game vs. the Detroit Pistons due to an ankle injury and was unable to return. Ayton had 6 points in 8 minutes before being ruled out in the second quarter. The Suns are up on the Pistons as we approach halftime. The center had been back in the lineup for three games since returning from COVID-19 protocols.

The Suns entered Sunday having won six of their past eight games. Ayton is averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds over 27 games this season. So far with Ayton out against Detroit, the Suns have been going small with lineups featuring Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges in the front court.

Fantasy basketball impact

With Ayton out the rest of the game Sunday, the Suns will lean on backup center JaVale McGee, who has played well this season. From an efficiency standpoint, McGee is having his second-best season ever with a PER of 24.17. McGee also has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent, which would be a career high. He’s averaging 22.4 points and 15.7 rebounds per 36 minutes this season. If Ayton misses any time, McGee will be a solid DFS option and good player to target on the waiver wire for the upcoming week.

The other player to monitor is second-year big Jalen Smith, who could also get more run if Ayton is sidelined. There was a point this season when the Suns were missing Ayton and McGee, forcing Smith into a bigger role. After Christmas when Ayton was placed on the COVID list, the Suns gave Smith additional run and he had a stretch of six straight games in double-figure scoring. The big thing holding Smith back is foul trouble.