“We respect all those guys,” Clippers forward Nicolas Batum said this week of the Suns he faced in the 2021 Western Conference Finals. “But he’s in a different category. Those guys are great, but KD is KD.”
Devin Booker says he sometimes has to take a moment and let it sink in again that he’s now teammates with Durant.
“That’s one of, if not the best scorer to ever play this game,” Booker said this week. “I’m watching every step that he makes very closely and I’ve always watched his game that way, but from a distance. Now, the chance to get it live & right in front of you is even better.”
If Devin Booker doesn’t take it for granted that Kevin Durant is now a Phoenix Sun, should we?
This is Kevin freaking Durant, folks.
Four time NBA scoring champ. Career 29 points per game scorer in the playoffs (155 games). Four time NBA Finalist. Two-time champion.
Sure, the Suns gave up some good young players and draft picks to acquire the 34-year old Durant, who is still playing at MVP level this season. And sure, he has a growing injury history to worry about — including this season where he won’t make an All-NBA team because he only appeared in 47 of 82 games.
But this is Kevin freaking Durant, who has a career scoring average of 29.4 points per game in the playoffs over 11 seasons (155 games), including 29.6 in 48 playoff games with the Warriors while Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were in their primes and 32.3 these past two seasons when he was the primary/only healthy scorer in Brooklyn. The ‘Slim Reaper’ also pulls down 7.8 rebounds and dishes 4.1 assists per game in his playoff career.
This is Kevin freaking Durant who, when healthy, is an MVP candidate and almost always the best player on the floor no matter who the opponent is. His game is unstoppable, evidenced by him getting even better when the playoffs come around and defenses have time to stop him.
This is Kevin freaking Durant, who IS healthy, and has been for seven of his team’s last eight playoff runs. With the Nets in 2021, he almost single-handedly beat eventual champ Milwaukee Bucks, only to leave his toe on the line for a game-winning three that would have won the series. Durant had to play 50 of 53 minutes in that one because James Harden and Kyrie Irving only had two good legs between them. Imagine now adding Durant to a Suns core that almost beat the Bucks in the 2021 Finals.
Yes, the Suns traded a lot to get Durant in a sun-blinding attempt to upgrade an already-really-good team in a hurry. But is it really a future-mortgaging move if Durant, 26-year old Devin Booker and 24-year old Deandre Ayton are all under contract for at least three more years after this one?
SBNation.com today says a Suns championship so soon after acquiring Durant would be ‘hollow’. The writer goes on to explain how the Raptors in 2019 at least had the decency to trade for Kawhi Leonard at the beginning of the season so Kawhi could wear a Raptors uniform for 60 games before winning them a ring.
So the Raptors 2019 championship isn’t hollow because Kawhi played the whole season in Toronto. Well, 60 of 82 games anyway, while they unabashedly load-managed his schedule, and then lost him in free agency before they could even hold a ring ceremony.
Hmm. So you’re trying to tell me the Raptors would have passed on Kawhi if they had to wait for the trade deadline that year? Especially if he still had three more years on his contract after that one?
I call BS.
The writer also points out that LeBron at least had the decency to lose in his first Finals in Miami after bolting Cleveland. I assume he’d say the same about the 2007 Lakers and Pau Gasol.
According to this writer, the Suns should have to lose in the playoffs this year and try again next year for the championship to feel ‘full’.
Again, I call BS.
Durant is likely to help the Suns on a deep playoff run. He’s played in 30 playoff series over 11 years — yes, that means he averages almost 3 series per appearance. For his career, he’s 10-2 in the first round, 7-2 in the second round, 3-3 in the Western Conference Finals and 2-2 in the NBA Finals.
If Kevin Durant and the Suns win a championship this year, no one’s going to look at it any differently than every other championship in league history.
A ring is a ring. Nothing hollow about it.