Hard as it may be to believe, the Phoenix Suns have now passed the halfway point in their season, and are sitting in fifth spot in the Western Conference. A seven game winning streak back in 2023 being paired with the current six game run this team is on, going some way to explaining the Suns' fortunes.
It certainly helps that the organization now have a fully healthy Bradley Beal, while Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon have excelled in their respective roles. Head coach Frank Vogel has even managed to get some run out of Bol Bol - to the point you realize when he is not there - and Devin Booker's time as a point guard has been mostly a success.
But when we look at who the MVP of the first-half of the season for this Suns team was, there can only be one player, and that is without question Kevin Durant.
Durant has already taken home first-quarter MVP honors here, and the temptation to not give him this award was strong. Allen has been brilliant for the Suns this season, and the recent game in which he had a team-high 29 points on nine made 3-pointers while coming all the way back from 22 points down to beat the Sacramento Kings made his case even stronger.
But really, it seems almost disrespectful to compare Allen and Durant in this way. Allen has started every game he has played for the Suns so far this season, leads the league in 3-point shooting percentage and is posting career highs in many statistical categories. Which is all great, but Durant is doing things like this to actually pull out wins for the team.
Perhaps most impressive of all - although it is not getting the coverage it deserves with the media - is that Durant at 35-years-old is averaging more points per game this season (29.6), than he did in two of the four occasions in the past when he won the league's scoring title. It's hard to tell what about that fact is better, that he's older and has had injuries, or that this isn't even his team.
Durant's closing numbers may not be brilliant this season, but it is easy to forget that Booker can still take the last shot as well if he wants to. The fact he so readily defers to Durant when he knows the time is right is another reason this award goes to Durant. He is balancing his role as second fiddle but also best player on any given night exceptionally well.
On the other end of the court, Durant as this team's center is going to be a theme that emerges once the postseason begins. We've seen devastating glimpses already, and Durant himself has mentioned to the media how he should be held accountable on that end of the court every night. What a massive impact that must have on guys coming off the bench to hear a superstar talk like this.
So not only is Durant at the center going to be something we see more of as times goes on, but his willingness to do it combined with a devastating, albeit small, sample size means his team will profit from this. The concern before the season started was the fact that the Suns didn't have a ton of center depth if injuries struck and what that would mean for the toll put on Durant's body.
But through the first-half of the season that hasn't been an issue, while Durant ranking fifth in the entire league in 3-point shooting percentage at 46.4 percent has been an added bonus. When the Suns find themselves in a tight spot, it is Durant they look to in order to bail them out of a bad possession.
Finally, having Durant on this roster is just fun. How great is it to watch the Suns try and win a championship, with perhaps the best scorer in the history of the league leading the way. It is also clear just how much Durant loves the game - his reaction to Joel Embiid putting up 70 was priceless - and that love for basketball is infectious.
It perhaps says more about this Suns season that Durant has now won this award on both occasions so far. The hope will surely be that Booker or Bradley Beal can take this accolade from him once we award the third-quarter MVP as the regular season begins to draw to a close. But until that happens, the Suns are in safe hands as they continue climbing up the Western Conference standings.