We’ve only got three Kevin Durant games with the Phoenix Suns to cling to at this point.
His return is imminent, and while they will likely ease him back into things it’s impossible to not start imagining the possibilities on the court.
“Kevin Durant is doing more & more on the court… [The Suns] are hopeful that he’s gonna be back in the lineup before the end of March, potentially early April”@ShamsCharania with the latest on Kevin Durant’s injury #RunItBack #WeAreTheValley pic.twitter.com/YEUaTO8lSl— FanDuel TV (@FanDuelTV) March 20, 2023
For this exercise, I will exclude the Suns obvious starting five of Paul, Booker, Okogie, Durant, and Ayton. It is worth noting how dominant that starting unit has been in the 3 games and 49 minutes they’ve played together, as illustrated below.
A net rating of 37.3 in 49 minutes is unreal and certainly a lineup we are all obviously looking forward to watching again.
1) Point Book
Devin Booker - Landry Shamet - Josh Okogie - Kevin Durant - Deandre Ayton
This lineup gives you a nice combination of size, shooting, and defensive versatility. There are many ways you can go with Point Book lineups, including throwing Ish or Craig in for Shamet and going with a “jumbo” lineup.
This one is banking on Landry Shamet regaining his confidence from deep because the Suns need shooting. Bad.
2) Floor Spacing Galore
Devin Booker - Landry Shamet - Damion Lee - Kevin Durant - Jock Landale
This may not be the sexiest lineup, but one thing you know it will do without a doubt is provide spacing around your two superstars in Devin Booker and Kevin Durant.
Jock may not be a plus shooter, but he spaces the floor through his threat of shooting and can help with making the extra pass. Ultimately the goal here is if you send help to either Book or KD, one of Shamet or Lee are wide open for three.
3) Let’s get weird (small ball counter lineup)
Chris Paul - Devin Booker - Josh Okogie - Kevin Durant - Ish Wainright
In the playoffs, there will be teams that look to exploit certain matchups against the Suns. Teams trying to take Deandre Ayton out of the game or if he gets into foul trouble, a team like the Clippers
Plugging Ish in as a small-ball center makes sense in certain matchups, especially with KD playing alongside him as a seven-footer that can provide weakside rim protection.
4) Bench Mob + KD
Cam Payne - Landry Shamet - Damion Lee - Kevin Durant - Jock Landale
This is something we are more likely to see during the regular season than we do come playoff time. Monty Williams has staggered Durant with the bench unit to elevate them in stretches that they normally struggle to score in pre-Durant.
He (Durant) can carry essentially whatever unit he is leading. Luckily, the playoff rotation will likely only be 8-deep, maybe 9 depending on Monty’s mood and/or the game flow.
At any rate, watching Durant with the bench unit is a heck of a lot better than watching that same unit without him, so I’ll choose to enjoy the staggers while they last.
Devin Booker - Terrence Ross - TJ Warren - Kevin Durant - Deandre Ayton
Forget defense for a second. The all-buckets squad has all of the confidence in the world to get their shot whenever they want it. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not. Would it be fun to watch? Absolutely.
I honestly doubt this is a lineup we even see, but it’s one to throw out there for the hell of it.
Chris Paul - Devin Booker - Kevin Durant - Ish Wainright - Deandre Ayton
This could be a closing lineup for Phoenix at times. In 8 minutes this season, they have an absurd 53.3 net rating with a 77.0 True Shooting Percentage. Yes, small sample size, blah blah blah. If Ish can hit corner threes then this unit is an absolute force.
Long story short, any lineup that features Kevin Durant is worth looking forward to.