UPDATE: We saw Ayton’s return to the lineup in a win over the Trail Blazers on Monday. He ended up playing 20 minutes off the bench, grabbing 12 rebounds with six points. As I alluded to below, the Suns opted to play that small-ball lineup featuring Kelly Oubre Jr. at the 4 and Mikal Bridges at the 3 with Devin Booker, Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes.
Ayton was strong on the glass, which is encouraging, and he should get back into the starting lineup soon I’d imagine.
UPDATE: Ayton will play Monday vs. the Trail Blazers. Ayton will come off the bench and Baynes will remain in the starting lineup. He will also have his minutes monitored and will only play in bursts.
Deandre Ayton will return tonight from a right ankle sprain that sidelined him 5 games after suffering injury in his return game from 25-game suspension .— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) December 31, 2019
This will be just his 3rd game as the #Suns will play their 23rd game tonight. Facing #RipCity in 3rd of 4-game road trip.
UPDATE: Monty Williams talked about Deandre Ayton possibly returning tonight. Said they want to see how he responds to shootaround and treatment. #Suns— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) December 30, 2019
It seems like Ayton is more of a game-time decision than questionable, but he’s got a chance to play tonight. Ayton has missed the past five games due to an ankle injury he sustained after returning from a 25-game suspension on Dec. 17.
Fantasy Basketball Analysis: Phoenix Suns C Deandre Ayton
Ayton looked good in his one game back from suspension, scoring 18 points with 12 rebounds in 24 minutes. It was a shame he injured his ankle immediately after, but if he can return Monday vs. the Blazers he’d be in a good spot. We’ll have to see if Ayton is on a minutes limit before making any lineup decisions. If Ayton returns, Aron Baynes should go back to the bench, though Baynes would still see minutes in the frontcourt.
The Suns have been using smaller lineup with Mikal Bridges at small forward and Kelly Oubre Jr. at power forward, so that’s something they could continue to do — with or without Ayton back. We’ll see what Williams decides as to the status of Ayton. If he remains out, I think Baynes is an OK value and Bridges should see plenty of minutes off the bench again.