Center of the Sun: The Dynamic Durant, unlocking Booker, and pondering playoff seeding

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

  • Current Record: 36-29, 4th seed in the Western Conference
  • Offensive Rating: 114.0 (13th, ↑4)
  • Defensive Rating: 112.0 (6th, ↑2)
  • Net Rating: +2.1 (9th, —)

This week we all microwaved our Orville Redenbacher movie theater buttered popcorn, pulled up our most comfortable recliner, and enjoyed the show that was Phoenix Suns basketball. The week was highly anticipated as Kevin Durant finally donned a Phoenix uni and took the court with “Suns” across his chest. There are few weeks this season that match what this week meant to this team into this fan base.

credit : – chatsports

The week started off with an easy victory over the hapless Hornets followed by a win in the Windy City. The Chicago Bulls provided more of a challenge, but the Suns ultimately pulled away at the end behind the efforts of Chris Paul and his 3-of-4 shooting beyond the arc in the fourth. Then there was the match up on Sunday afternoon against the Dallas Mavericks.

The impact of Kevin Durant was instant, and he scored 7 minutes in the clutch against Dallas, ultimately hitting the game clinching basket.

What he brings to the game – the manner in which he plays and fits in – is plug and play. Monty Williams put KD on a “minutes restriction” but we witnessed Durant play 32.7 minutes (second most on the team). He averaged 26.7 points on 69% shooting.

He has unlocked Devin Booker, who hasn’t been this wide open since the second grade. He has created mismatches that will keep opposing coaches up at night. He has provided offensive stability like we’ve never seen in the Valley.

When playing together thus far — 67 total minutes — the Suns are shooting 55.1% from the field, 45.8% from deep, and have scored 185 points. That’s a 132.2 offensive rating. They have a +31.2 net rating. Small sample size, sure, but those are nasty numbers.

I’m giddy inside just thinking about it.

KD’s arrival does come with some sacrifice. Prior to Durant playing, Deandre Ayton averaged 53.4 touches per game and .35 points per touch. In three games with KD, that has dropped to 43 touches and .267 points per touch.

DA is finding himself focused on defense and rebounding and not part of the newly installed offensive sets. Monty will have to figure out how to incorporate his offensive skill set with more regularity to not only keep him engaged, but to take pressure off his two superstars.

Player of the Week

  • Devin Booker
  • 36.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists
  • 56.0 FG%, 50.0 3PT%, 77.8 FT%

Devin Booker is going to be the primary beneficiary of the gravity the Kevin Durant brings. I’m not sure even Devin understands how open he’s going to be. Defenses must focus on the lethal Durant, and Booker finds himself in somewhat of a Klay Thompson role. He’s peeling of weak side screens and finding himself all alone to take shots.

Prior to this week, 65 of Devin Booker’s shots on the season were classified as “wide open”. This week alone he had 6, 5 of which he knocked down.

Game Recaps

  • Phoenix Suns @ Charlotte Hornets (W, 105-91) FULL RECAP
  • Phoenix Suns @ Chicago Bulls (W, 125-104) FULL RECAP
  • Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks (W, 130-126) FULL RECAP

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