In their first preseason game against the Detroit Pistons, the Phoenix Suns showcased their revamped roster, featuring the trio of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal.
The Suns rode a dominant first quarter to victory, leading 46-29 after the initial frame. The offense flowed smoothly, with minimal isolation plays, and the defense looked stout as a unit. However, one aspect that stood out was Kevin Durant’s rim pressure, a crucial element that had a significant impact on the game.
Durant, who scored 12 points on 4-7 shooting, exerted considerable rim pressure throughout the game.
Rim pressure refers to the ability of a player to drive to the basket effectively, forcing the defense to collapse and creating opportunities for both scoring and playmaking. Durant’s ability to get to the rim not only resulted in points for himself but also opened up opportunities for his teammates.
Rim pressure is a vital aspect of modern basketball. It collapses the defense, creates open shots on the perimeter, and leads to high-percentage scoring opportunities. In the context of the Suns, who led 70-59 at halftime and eventually won 130-126 in overtime, Durant’s rim pressure was a key factor that kept the Pistons’ defense on their heels.
Durant’s unique skill set, which combines length, agility, and shooting prowess, makes him a nightmare matchup for any defense. His ability to drive and finish at the rim is complemented by his excellent mid-range game and three-point shooting.
This multifaceted offensive arsenal forces defenders to respect all aspects of his game, making it easier for him to exert rim pressure effectively.
While the Suns’ defense looked quite stout overall, led by Josh Okogie’s inspired play, there were moments of vulnerability, particularly when it came to protecting the rim. Jusuf Nurkic struggled in this aspect, especially in the first quarter. Durant’s rim pressure exploited these weaknesses, forcing the Suns to make defensive adjustments.
To counter the rim pressure exerted by players of Durant’s caliber, the Suns could employ a few strategies. One approach is to use a shot-blocking big man to deter drives to the basket.
Another is to employ a “wall” defense, similar to what teams have used against Giannis Antetokounmpo, forcing Durant into less efficient mid-range shots. Lastly, timely help defense and rotations can also limit the effectiveness of Durant’s drives.
The Phoenix Suns’ first preseason game against the Detroit Pistons offered a glimpse into the team’s potential, especially with the addition of Kevin Durant. While the Suns emerged victorious, Durant’s rim pressure served as both an asset and a point of study for the team’s defense.
As the Suns prepare for their preseason home opener against the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets, the ability to counter elite rim pressure will be a focal point for improvement.