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The good and the bad of the new Suns starting lineup

One big and small thing I like and dislike about what we’ve seen from the starters since the KD era began

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It’s honestly a bit of a shock that things have gone as smoothly as they have for the Phoenix Suns since Kevin Durant joined the lineup. They’re 3-0 in three road games and the starters have been one of the most impressive groups in basketball thus far:

Even in under 50 minutes, we’ve started to see the flashes of what can make the lineup so lethal but also some ways it can improve. Here’s a major and minor positive before a major and minor negative:


Late clock optionality

In Sunday’s (awesome) win over the Dallas Mavericks, Durant and Devin Booker traded late clock moments throughout. Durant’s game-winning shot late was foreshadowed in the final seconds of the first quarter:

While the first shot was assisted by Booker, the game-winner was a work of Durant’s own. That is, after he got the catch high above the key, already going downhill to put pressure on Dallas’s defense.

Booker’s star is shining brightly

Seems like someone’s really enjoying the reduced defensive attention as Booker is averaging 36 points (56% FG and 50% 3P), 6.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists (only 0.7 turnovers), 1.0 blocks, and 0.7 steals. Not sure how any national pundits could still refrain from giving him his due credit.


Deandre Ayton’s unreliable hands

Ayton still has an issue with catching bounce passes coming into the paint. Durant has been with the team for less than a month and sometimes isn’t aware of this quite yet. This is an example of those times, and it was to start off the game, no less.

Funny enough, Durant is such a good passer (I loved when Hubie Brown went on an aside during the broadcast about his underrated facilitation) that he’s able to make it work anyway. The two connected successfully just a matter of a couple possessions later.

Two disappointing player stats

I wasn’t a fan of Josh Okogie’s shooting regressing back quite a bit to 0-8 from three after his 47% stretch as a starter.

He’s not a starter, but I also didn’t love Terrence Ross coming in for 13 minutes to foul three times, shoot just once, and be the target of the opposing offense. That’s not what he’s on the roster for; he’s on the roster to heat up in bursts and kill opposing benches. If rotations need to be adjusted so his opportunities to do so are better, then let’s make that happen.

Overall, there’s going to be a lot to like when the team goes 3-0 on the road led by heroic efforts from Booker and Durant, but I believe it’s important to not lose sight of the areas they can still improve.

Durant talked a lot in his early days here about the grind of each day; if the team can embody that philosophy, they’ll find themselves in even better shape in no time at all.

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