After a rough Week 9, the Phoenix Suns were looking to rebound. Sub-.500 isn’t where anyone expected them to be, especially through 27 games of the regular season. But that is where they found themselves, uncomfortably slotted in as the 11th seed in the Western Conference standings.
They opened Week 10 with a loss at the hands of Luka Doncic and his 50-piece on Christmas night. Rumors of KD’s frustration were blown out of proportion by national media outlets as he should’ve been frustrated. We all were frustrated. But at no time did he request a trade and state he wanted out of Phoenix.
How did he respond? By increasing his stock on the Suns Stock Exchange, that’s how!
Kevin Wayne Durant: Stock ↑
It wasn’t a crazy week for KD relative to scoring. He averaged 23.8 points over the four games, which was 33rd best in the NBA in Week 10. But assists? KD ranked 5th with 9.8, including dishing out 16 assists in the win over the Houston Rockets.
It’s hard to say the stock is up on someone like Kevin Durant, but given the shellacking he took from the national media — and some ill-informed members of the fanbase — the way he responded to the nonsense was what you would expect. Professional. Efficient. Sniper.
What is impressive about Week 10 is the ball security he displayed. In his first 9 weeks of the season, Durant averaged 3.5 turnovers. That dropped to 2.5 turnovers in Week 10, a week that saw him post a 3.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.
With Brad Beal’s return, who is someone who can take the offensive load off of Durant, we will see more of his playmaking on display. Given the gravity that he pulls, coupled with the talent around him, this creates some unique nightmares for defensive coaches when they play the Suns.
Perimeter Defense: Stock ↓
The Suns continue to have challenges guarding the three-point line. When teams come to play against Phoenix, they know they are going to get chances to score from beyond the arc and they know they will not be contested. Weak side defenders are continually collapsing into the paint to assist their teammates who are getting beat in isolation.
The challenge with this?
When they do so, they leave their defender wide open on the perimeter. Even if they close out appropriately, the defense has been compromised. The ball whips around and typically finds the welcoming hands of an eager shooter. And it feels that more often than not they are knocking them down.
Take a look at what Terry Rozier did this week.
Rozier entered the game shooting 34.3% from three-point range this season. Not against the Suns! He went 8-of-12 and scored 42 points.
How about Luka Dončić? He averaged 38% from deep prior to playing the Suns, doing so on 10.2 attempts a night. But against Phoenix on Christmas night? 8-of-16. Sheesh.
This is a trend that the Suns must shore up. Yes, with the Big Three together they are an offensive juggernaut. But offensive juggernauts don’t necessarily quite the championships. I believe the phrase is that defense does?
Bradley Beal: “Our defense is a little tragic right now. We gotta be better on that end.”— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) January 1, 2024
Said a few nights ago defense was “trash.”
Book Colorways: Stock ↑
Okay, my fellow nerds. I’ve held off for quite some time writing about jerseys and shoes here at Bright Side. After what I saw on Sunday night, I can no longer stay quiet.
For my fellow sneaker geeks out there, you must admit that the Book 1’s, coupled with the different colorways that Booker continues to roll out, are elite. Yes, they have a similar look and style to that of the Jordan 1’s. If you’re going to use a shoe as an inspiration, why not use the arguably greatest shoe ever created?
On Christmas, Book debuted his Air Max 95 “Neon” inspired colorway version of his shoe. Clean. Crisp. Sexy.
Devin Booker is debuting a new Nike Book 1 colorway inspired by the Nike Air Max 95 Neon. pic.twitter.com/pUZJUAd3R5— Sole Retriever (@SoleRetriever) December 26, 2023
On Sunday night, however, Book took it to an entirely new level. Many Suns fans might know of the Shattered Backboard Jordan 1’s. Due to the implementation of the color orange, they are popular with the fan base.
The newest colorway? A tribute to those Shattered Backboards.
Devin Booker is wearing a “Shattered Backboard” Air Jordan 1-inspired Nike Book 1 PE tonight pic.twitter.com/6weSQizSuF— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) January 1, 2024
These simply don’t miss. I am dying for the official release of the Book 1’s on the Nike store, and I hope they are as fully customizable as the KD16 shoes are. Or that they offer the above colorways for sale. Because I will happily hand over my hard-earned money for these shoes.
They are art.
3-1 on the week. It was a good week for the Suns Stock Exchange. If you bought low, it might be a time to sell high. But who would want to do that? It’s now 2024 and this could be the year that we finally won a championship. Never sell. Always hold on. Always appreciate. And always be thankful for the time you’re given.
Happy New Year, Suns fans.