The Phoenix Suns will enter next season as one of the title favorites, although their best player in Kevin Durant will be 35-years-old. The addition of Bradley Beal and the continued growth of Devin Booker do take some of the pressure off Durant offensively, but Father Time is undefeated.
The Suns have watched their championship hopes go up in smoke in the last few years, with injury most certainly playing a part. It is one of the reasons they shipped out Chris Paul to add Beal, because he was never healthy when they really need him to be, and was 38-years-old.
Keeping Durant healthy is critical to the success this franchise wants to have, and there are a few ways they can go about this.
Implementing this won’t be easy though as like Paul, Durant wants to play basketball as often as he can. Even if he has dabbled in some 20 minute practices in the past. He truly loves the game, it is just unfortunate that his body doesn’t seem to want to keep up at the same rate as Durant’s enthusiasm to be on the court does.
The Suns also don’t have the luxury of turning to Durant only in times of emergency. They gutted their roster to make it top-heavy, and so the superstar will still have to pull his weight. This also includes on the defensive end, where the organization are going to need a big season from the player as well. Keeping Durant healthy won’t be easy, but it is now as important as ever.
3. No back-to-back games
It sounds easy, but this will be anything but. Seeding has never been more important in anticipation for the playoffs, and the Suns will not be able to coast through the regular season. It is highly unlikely they finish below the sixth seed, but the idea of even flirting with the play-in tournament is not what owner Mat Ishbia had in mind when he assembled this team.
Getting home court advantage for as long as possible throughout the postseason will be important, and it would be ideal to keep that benefit away from the Denver Nuggets for as long as possible too. One team who have an advantage at home like few others because of the altitude.
It would be fantastic if the Suns could sit Durant for every back-to-back contest. The L.A. Clippers have regrettably had to do this with Kawhi Leonard all too often, but the Suns can make this work. It would then allow Durant to play big minutes and go hard every game, knowing he’ll never have to suit up the following night.
As unhappy as he may be about this fact, it would also give Booker a chance to assume more of the scorer’s role that he has enjoyed up to this point, and less of the “Point-Booker” duties that are going to be bestowed upon him. Beal could also break loose during these games, becoming more of a focal point offensively. This helps Durant stay healthy, but everybody wins.