‘Pick your poison': Kevin Durant's impact abundantly clear ahead of Suns' first playoff game
The Suns are 8-0 with Kevin Durant, who has only played eight games with the team due to injuries. His presence means the team is a force to be reckoned with in the NBA playoffs.
Mat Ishbia, the new governor of the Suns, was introduced to the public on February 8 and answered questions from the press. He was asked about the team's activity as the 24-hour trade deadline approaches.
Ishbia said, 'I will empower my team to make their own decisions and give them the support they need to succeed. Then I'll let them do an amazing job.' 'I won't be counting dollars. I'm going be focused on improving our team.
Ishbia, Suns President James Jones and a bunch of players were traded that night for Kevin Durant. Durant is one of the NBA’s greatest ever. Durant, who arrived in the Valley with a right MCL strain, has only played eight games since then. He also suffered a left ankle sprain just minutes before his home debut.
Phoenix has a perfect 8-0 record in the small number of games that he's played.
Durant, who played eight games, said that he would have liked to play more if he had been on the same team as his teammates. 'But I have been in the NBA for 15 years, and 16 of those were spent playing around the league. I've had the opportunity to play with many different players, under many different coaches.
'I had played with a few teammates and a few coaches before I came here. I believe that helps to speed up the transition. Basketball is basketball once we are on the court.
Suns move from the Big Three Suns to the Big Four
Durant brings a new dimension to the Suns' offense, as they prepare to face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs on April 16.
This generational forward has the only shooting split of 55/40/90 in history. Since joining the Suns, he has averaged 26 points and shot 57% on the field. He has also shot 53.7% of his threes.
Phoenix's offense isn't isolation-heavy, but it tends to change as the game becomes more methodical during the playoffs. Durant is one of the NBA’s top one-on-one scorers and will help Booker when double teams come his way.
When defenses close in on Durant, he can pass the ball to a Booker who is open.
Keep it simple with Durant on the team.
Monty Williams of the Suns said, "He's 6'11, or 7'1", he is a large target. He laughed at this clear reference to Durant's mystery height. You can throw the ball to him. It's not necessary to be cute and make play calls or run misdirection plays to achieve your goals.
Having two players of the gravitas that Booker and Durant possess opens the floor to everyone else. The NBA's best lineups feature the two players, with a point differential of +18.4 and a points per possession ratio (124.7), according to Cleaning the Glass.
This is one of many benefits of having two of NBA's best shot makers.
"Again, the question is how to space around it and how to cut off from that and make use of a unique skillset?" Williams asked. It allows you to reach your desired destination early in the clock (shot). You have different options.
Other options for scorers
Phoenix's role players have plenty of opportunities to score because Durant, Booker and Ayton are getting all the attention. Terrence Ross and Josh Okogie will likely have open looks at 3-point range and mid-range. Landry Shamet, Cameron Payne, Torrey Lee, Damion Lee, Landry Payne, and Torrey Craig are also likely to get easy scoring opportunities.
'It is pick your poison especially when Kevin (Durant), and (Devin Booker) are on the same floor,' said Shamet. It's like: 'What will you do?' Are you going take Book's pull up away? Kevin is coming from the corner. Stay hugged.
It allows us to exhaust many different actions and get a variety of options from each. It's wonderful to have a player who can completely change your offense.
Paul is perhaps the greatest beneficiary, as he will turn 38 on May 6. Paul's Hall of Fame career is nearing its end, but his ability to playmaker is still as strong as ever. His 8.9 assists per match, which is good for fourth place in the NBA, is a testament to this. Paul is still a good mid-range shooter and a threat to score from long distances. With Booker and Durant on his side, he is no longer responsible for initiating the offensive on almost every possession he's in the game, or creating shots. It's a blessing for an offense that was often stymied in the playoffs by both Mavericks and Pelicans.
Booker stated that Paul was not used to people helping him off at times, and him being overlooked. "(I) believe he's always been in the position of having to make plays that benefit everyone on court. He understands we want him to be aggressive. You're always in good shape if you want a Hall of Famer who is more aggressive.
Durant's presence on the defense has made it as strong as the offense. This is despite the loss to the team of its best perimeter defender Mikal Bridges. He was traded along with Cam Johnson, an equally solid defender, in the Durant deal.
Durant is a great addition to the Suns' defense.
Durant averages 1.3 blocks per night, and he keeps his hands off himself. According to Cleaning the Glass, with Durant on the court the Suns allow 107 points for every 100 possessions. They also have an opponent field-goal rate of 49.8%.
These numbers show a major improvement in the Suns' ranking, which is slightly above average or average when Durant is off the hardwood. Expect defensive metrics to increase as Durant works more with his teammates.
Durant keeps things simple too.
Durant spoke of his role as a defensive player in the team. We all have the same mindset: everyone trying to do their part on the defensive side.
Durant is playing the fewest minutes in his career, largely due to his injuries. Durant's playing time will increase as the regular season ends and the postseason approaches. If the eight-game sample represents anything, Phoenix fans can expect to see a more powerful, and potentially deadly Suns team in the postseason, chasing their first NBA title.