Both Devin Booker and Kevin Durant are superstar players in their own right, making the trade for Durant a massive addition for the Phoenix Suns. This duo is certainly a deadly combination, with Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz recently rating Durant and Booker as the top duo in the NBA.
Swartz argues that, even with a small sample size, the statistics for the duo when both are on the floor together indicate they will be the best duo in the league next season:
"The net rating jumps off the page immediately, as the Suns went a perfect 8-0 during the regular season with Durant and Booker. Both the team’s offense (124.7 rating, 98th percentile) and defense (106.4 rating, 98th percentile) were elite with the two superstars on the floor."
Both the offensive and defensive game for the Suns operated at an elite level with both Durant and Booker on the floor. While it may have been a concern having two dominant scorers on the same team, Durant has showcased that he can play with other stars during his stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors.
Booker and Durant are both certified buckets, with the pair putting up big numbers in the playoffs. This included a game three win against eventual NBA champions the Denver Nuggets where the pair combined for 86 points.
Booker and Durant are obviously a deadly duo, but are they the best duo currently in the NBA?
Both players are used to defenses giving them attention on any given night. This allows either of the pair to light it up at any point in the game, taking advantage of the defense being drawn to the other member of their superstar tandem and helping develop their playmaking skills.
While only playing eight regular season games together, Booker saw increases in both his scoring and assist stats when playing with Durant. Booker averaged 28.5 points and 6.9 assists per game when suiting up alongside Durant during the regular season. The young guard saw these stats rise again during the postseason, averaging 33.7 points (league high) and 7.2 assists.
Durant’s numbers were still solid playing alongside Booker, however Booker’s improvement showcased that Durant was willing to let the young guard run the offense. This is a trend that should continue in the 2023-24 season.
The fact that the pair were able to produce such stellar numbers and convert this into wins, should be something that the rest of the league fears. As Swartz argues, the pairing did not have the luxury of working out their playstyle during training camp last season:
"Durant seems more than willing to take a back seat to Booker, the best shooting guard in basketball—and he’s only 26. Give these two a full training camp together to really work on chemistry and this will be the best star duo in the NBA."
Phoenix have done a stellar job surrounding the pair with supporting talent, led by former Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal. Acquiring players such as Eric Gordon, Bol Bol, Yuta Watanabe (who played with Durant in Brooklyn) and others showcase the Suns’ dedication to building a contender around their superstar pairing.
While the pair certainly will continue to dominate, the only concern will be getting both players on the court together. Durant’s age and recent injury history are likely concerns heading into the season.
The superstar has missed substantial time since his achilles injury back in the 2019 NBA Finals, with injuries even plaguing the beginning of his time with the Suns when he injured his ankle during pre game warmups. This resulted in missing nearly a month, with the superstar also missing substantial time earlier in the season with a sprained right MCL.
Durant only played a total of 47 games in the 2022-23 regular season, a number that will need to increase in order to get the most out of the Booker/Durant pairing. This makes it crucial that Phoenix manage Durant and make it a primary goal to keep him on the floor.
The number from the small sample size indicate that Durant and Booker make up the best tandem in the NBA. However, it remains to be seen whether this duo will be successful in leading the Phoenix Suns to the top of the NBA mountain.
With the moves the Suns have made in the past six months, it is certainly championship or bust for the team. Durant and Booker have the ability to be one of the many great duos that experience success, and fans will be hopeful that this tandem can bring a championship to the Valley this season.