2. Play a maximum of 60 games
This number takes care of itself if Durant avoids back-to-back games, but even if he is needed on some occasions on the second night, this is still a goal to aim for to keep him healthy. Without looking, can you guess the last time Durant even played 60 games in a regular season?
That would be 2018-19, his last with the Golden State Warriors. On that occasion he played 78 regular season games, then was superb as always in the playoffs until tearing his achilles in the NBA Finals. Durant’s body hasn’t quite held up since and while that is perfectly acceptable, he needs to be ready for a long playoff run next season.
Limiting him to 60 games on the organization’s terms would be great, although it is entirely possible that injuries to Durant force their hand here anyway. Working with that number in mind, and playing Durant less minutes would also be a help here.
The 33.6 minutes he has played in his tiny sample size as a Sun is less than at any of the previous stops in his illustrious career. With Booker and Beal running the show, on a lot of nights the team are going to blow opponents away offensively, and there won’t be a need for Durant. So perhaps brining that number closer to 30 minutes per game in the regular season would be an idea.
Once the playoffs begin, Durant could then be used to the fullest. We’ve seen the Milwaukee Bucks do this with Giannis Antetokounmpo before, and had real success. If the team were winning big, he’d often sit entire quarters and save his body. In 2017-18, Giannis averaged 36.7 minutes per game. By last season, that number was 32.1. It is about being smart with how Durant is used.