The Kevin Durant era in Phoenix Suns history could go down as its most memorable. At the very, very least, it is as anticipated as any sporting event in the Valley.
Durant is a bonafide superstar. He might be the best player to ever play for an Arizona sports franchise (the Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi is arguably the best player in WNBA history, but we’re looking at Arizona’s major four teams here).
Suns fans were quick to receive Durant two weeks ago, when he was introduced to the team by owner Mat Ishbia and general manager James Jones, who were able to pull off a blockbuster trade for Durant that unfortunately – for Suns fans – saw team icon Mikal Bridges and even a beloved Cam Johnson leave town.
Let’s hope the Suns pursue Bridges in 2026, when he is set to be an unrestricted free agent. That may catapult the franchise into championship contention for years and years to come.
But for now, that window to win is wide open. The Suns were aggressive in their pursuit of Durant at the trade deadline and have seen their vision come to fruition through three games. They have won all three of those contests and looked like the team many imagined them to be with a superstar added to their roster.
Durant has shot 70 percent from the field in two of those games. Yes, we love Mikal Bridges, but it’s hard to make up for the impact of Durant, who is still a top-five – if not top-three – player in the game today.
“Experience helps,” Durant said after the Suns’ 125-104 win over the Chicago Bulls March 3 (Yes it does).
"I missed three shots tonight and a free throw, which was terrible, but I felt I should've made every shot, too."— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) March 4, 2023
Kevin Durant on his 20-point night on 7-of-10 FGs (4-of-5 FTs) in #Suns win over #BullsNation Friday. pic.twitter.com/3yI8ryhOes
Durant is going to lead the Suns to a place they have never been before if this ends up right. I mean, they could win their first championship in franchise history. I’ve never been more excited for a Suns team after what I’ve seen these first three games.
Is that recency bias? Probably. Is that the inner child in me who rooted for Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire and wants the franchise to succeed even though I view them in a different light? Maybe. But let me tell you this – I’ve never seen two superstars on the floor who can do the same thing so efficiently.
Our Stephen Pridgeon-Gardner has provided great breakdowns on the Suns’ strategies in-game, and you can tell without knowing much about game play how effective Durant and Booker are. If you double one of them, the other is going to have single coverage.
Sound On— Stephen PridGeon ☯️ (@StayTrueSDot3) March 6, 2023
Another great offensive process saw the Suns register their 2nd best half-court O-rating (117.8) of the season (following their best, 122.1, @ CHI)
At the foundation was setting, maintaining, then exploiting the advantages presented by Dallas, via Durant & Booker… https://t.co/a9xaWqFfKL pic.twitter.com/8y4X9MJNkG
That’s a bucket.
If you collapse on one of them, one of the Suns’ shooters is going to be open.
That’s a bucket.
It’s a dream situation for me watching Chris Paul, who is almost 38 years old, too. Phoenix relied on him for vintage performances in the last two postseasons. It did not happen consistently enough, and the Suns did not win a championship.
Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Kellan Olson noted Paul is shooting 31-of-62 (50 percent) on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers this season. Durant’s NET rating with the Suns is 21.3 and he’s shooting an effective field goal percentage of 77.4. That’s pretty nuts.
The worst field goal percentage for Kevin Durant or Devin Booker in their first three games together was 50%.— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) March 5, 2023
They have combined to shoot 71-for-117 (60.7%).
I noted this in an earlier story this week that I loved this clip when Booker kicked it to Durant against the Charlotte Hornets last Thursday and then walked away while Durant made the 3-pointer. Buckets.
Book just walked away look at him omg pic.twitter.com/knNJXoSw8t— andrew leezus (@AndrewLeezus) March 2, 2023
Anyways, this has all come on the road. Durant will make his home debut Wednesday and the environment at Footprint Center will be electric. Sorry to my girlfriend, who wanted to buy tickets for Suns games this year but then realized they will be over $100 for the worst seats the rest of the season.
What’s not apologetic is this – the Suns are in a place I did not expect them to be in just three seasons ago. When Paul got traded to the team, I thought it was going to be a piece that could help them be a playoff contender. They got to the NBA Finals.
Last year, they won a franchise-best 64 games and were arguably the favorites to win the NBA title. They didn’t get it done, but Durant’s reported interest in the Suns this summer got me going again in terms of envisioning a championship team to cover.
That team is here. It’s Kevin Durant, ladies and gentlemen. And he’s going to make his home debut as a Phoenix Sun tomorrow.
Let’s get the fireworks going. It’s going to be fun.
P.S. — What do you think his statline will be?