In 2019, Kevin Durant made the decision to partner with Kyrie Irving while playing at the All-Star Weekend, and four years later, he unveiled a new partnership with the Phoenix Suns in the same arena. Playing his first game as a Suns member, Durant demonstrated early signs of a potentially devastating one-two punch he can form with Devin Booker. They worked well together, with Booker having a terrific game, scoring 37 points, six rebounds, and seven assists, while Durant scored 23 points in just 27 minutes, showing no rustiness in his jumper after recovering from a right MCL sprain.
Durant and Booker’s combination was impressive, but it was their playmaking when separated that truly highlighted the Suns’ game plan with them. Durant played stretches with four bench players, and both times the score shifted from being close to double-digit Phoenix leads, as he drilled several of his trademark midrange jumpers. This strategy made for a stress-free win, as the Suns never trailed, and Durant ended the game with a plus-13 plus/minus, the second-best on the team.
Coach Monty Williams plans to increase Durant’s playing time alongside Booker, which will allow the Suns’ full potential to be unlocked. Williams praised Durant’s performance, stating, “It’s just pretty cool to be able to give the guy the ball, and he could get to his spot and get a really good shot. I thought the team fed off of him just being himself tonight.”
While Wednesday’s game was a success for Durant’s rollout, there were still some concerns. The potential for a top-heavy scoring offense showed, as only one other player, Deandre Ayton, was in double figures. Chris Paul, who had 11 assists, had another poor shooting night, going 1-of-8, and Josh Okogie, who kept his starting spot after averaging 18.5 points following the Durant trade, scored only four. Additionally, the Suns hinted that getting to the foul line might be an issue, with three players who specialize in midrange shots.
Despite these concerns, Durant admitted that he was nervous playing with a new team, new situation, and new teammates, saying, “I always feel I got to prove myself to my teammates and my coaches every single day, no matter what I’ve done in the league. So I feel like there’s pressure to be who I am every day.” Nonetheless, the game against one of the league’s weaker teams allowed for bonus practice and conditioning time and showcased Durant’s potential as a key player for the Phoenix Suns.