There is no doubt that Kevin Durant has been the best player on the Phoenix Suns’ roster so far this season. The 35-year-old looking as good as he ever has, and in carrying this team through the stretches when both Devin Booker and Bradley Beal were out with injury, has put himself in the MVP conversation early in the campaign.
Booker has been back lately to help the Suns to what is now an impressive five-game win streak, which has been great news for Durant. The two players are 14-1 together in regular season games played, and during their current win streak, they have had the best offensive rating in the NBA.
But with their final in-season tournament game versus the Memphis Grizzlies on the horizon, Durant may not be there to try help his team qualify.
That is because – for the first time so far this season – Durant is questionable to suit up for the Suns against an opponent that is already out of tournament contention. To be clear, Durant could still end up playing in this game, but so far this season when Booker and especially Beal have been listed as questionable, they have tended not to play.
Assuming this is just the foot soreness it has been reported as, then there should be no real concern here for Suns fans. Durant has averaged 36.9 minutes per game so far this season and has been the offensive fulcrum for the organization. He has done all of the heavy lifting that it had been thought Booker would end shouldering, with Durant filling in around that.
Instead head coach Frank Vogel has built a rotation around his incredible skills on the fly, with role players such as Eric Gordon and Grayson Allen really excelling next to Durant. He basically guarantees his teammates several open looks a night just by being out there – and once they knock some of those shots down, it leads to Durant putting up insane splits like these.
If Durant does not play against the Grizzlies, and then sits for the next game or two after that, the panic will really start to set it. This is understandable, Durant has had a couple of major injuries in the past, and the history of players as long as he is having durability in their 16th season is not troubling.
Leaning on him out of necessity early in the season was no problem when Durant was playing lots of minutes, hitting all of his shots and helping the Suns to win just enough games to not get left behind in the Western Conference. The second he became an injury concern though, that rose-tinted outlook on the season to date was going to change.
If there is any silver lining here, it is that Booker is at least back now and can take over from Durant as the go-to guy for the team. But if he misses a lot of time, then that is going to be of no consolation. The Suns’ “Big 3” still haven’t played a regular season minute together, and the latest update on Durant is not an encouraging one. The hope is that this is a once off, but time will tell.