Could this crazy Kevin Durant stat predict this year's NBA champs?

The Phoenix Suns might have been sent packing weeks ago, but Kevin Durant may yet have a say in who wins an NBA championship this season.
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game One
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game One / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns have long been eliminated from playoff contention, and have already moved quickly to ensure they will be in a better position to compete next season. Armed with a new head coach in Mike Budenholzer and an underrated 22nd pick in the NBA Draft, there remains hope of better days to come in The Valley.

The Suns were swept out of the postseason in the opening round by the Minnesota Timberwolves, an unfortunate ending that somehow is actually getting better the further removed the franchise gets from the hammering. The Timberwolves went on to outlast the defending champion Denver Nuggets in seven games, and are now down to the last four.

An interesting stat has emerged off the back of that defeat, and it revolves around Kevin Durant and his involvement against previous NBA Champions.

That's because - somewhat astonishingly - going back over the last 10 years Durant has either won the title himself, or lost to the eventual champions somewhere along the way. There are two exceptions to this, and yet Durant is somehow involved in both of those scenarios as well, either in the moment or down the road.

Beginning in 2014, Durant lost to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in six games, having fought back from 0-2 down before falling away. The next year the Thunder missed the postseason altogether, having lost out on a tie-breaker to the New Orleans Pelicans, despite winning 45 games.

On to 2016 and Durant would fall to the Golden State Warriors, who themselves lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals. We all know what happened after that, with Durant shocking the basketball world and going to San Francisco after that season was over. What followed was back-to-back championships, followed by losing in the finals to the Toronto Raptors.

Injury kept Durant out in 2020, while in 2021 he lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. The famous "toe on the line" game meaning Milwaukee squeaked through - with coach Budenholzer in charge - before going on to beat the Suns in the finals. The following season it was a loss to the Celtics, which prompted Durant to eventually move to Phoenix.

The Celtics would lose in the finals to - you guessed it - the Warriors that Durant helped turn into a dynasty, while in 2023 he was part of the group that fell to the Nuggets. Which brings us up to this season, when Anthony Edwards snatched the soul of the Suns before beating the three-time league MVP in Nikola Jokic.

Does all of this mean the Timberwolves are going to win it all this season? Of course not, and yet they're the betting favorite over the Dallas Mavericks in the conference finals. A team that reached the same stage with Luka Doncic two seasons ago, and who also have one-time Durant teammate Kyrie Irving on their roster as well.

This gets even crazier because if you go back even further to 2012, Durant also lost in the NBA Finals to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Before that? A loss in the conference finals to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, who then went on to beat the Heat for Dirk Nowitzki's only championship. Surely Durant's involvement has to end there, right?

Next. Suns may end up bringing back uninspiring point guard next season. Suns may end up bringing back uninspiring point guard next season. dark

Wrong, because in 2010 Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers took out an extremely young Oklahoma City Thunder outfit in the opening round of the playoffs. That was Durant's first involvement in the postseason having been drafted second overall in 2007, which means he has popped up somewhere important when the games matter the most over the course of 14 years.

So if the Timberwolves do go on to win it all, the Durant streak will be well and truly alive. Then again - if Irving and the Mavericks somehow get it done - Durant can also point to the fact that breaking up their superteam with James Harden on the Brooklyn Nets was part of the reason why. Truly he has been one of the most important players in the league for nearly 15 years then.