This current Phoenix Suns season, and perhaps many seasons afterwards, will be defined by the three major trades that they made dating back to last years deadline. The trades, overseen and pushed for by new owner Mat Ishbia, transformed the young, homegrown Suns roster into a star- studded, veteran-laden team.
Those trades will ultimately be judged by what the team accomplishes in the postseason, but midseason is a good time to reasess each deal and take stock of the players involved.
During the second half of last season this looked like a true win-win trade, and one that the Suns might even come to regret if they don’t manage to win a championship.
That was entirely due to the play of Bridges, who took off in his first season in Brooklyn. Bridges showcased a newfound scoring ability, averaging 26.1 ppg on 60% TS in his first 27 games with the Nets.
That trend didn’t continue over to this season, though, and Bridges’ numbers have fallen more in line with what he was putting up in Phoenix, albeit with higher usage. This year he’s averaging 21.4 ppg but his TS% has dipped to 57%.
More surprisingly, Bridges’ defense has taken a notable step back this year. Now the first option, a lot of his energy is going into the offensive end and taking away from one of his greatest strengths as a player. Bridges is clearly best-suited as the third or fourth best player on a championship contender, and that’s exactly why trading him for a bona fide number one in Durant was worth it.
Durant has been every bit of a number one this year. Averaging nearly 30 points per game on elite efficiency, Durant is still the same lethal scorer he’s been his entire career. He’s also playing DPOY caliber defense while shouldering that scoring load.
As for the other twin, Cameron Johnson is pretty much the same player he was with the Suns. He’s still an elite three-point shooter and capable defender, but he didn’t see any kind of jump in his play or numbers like Bridges did. Suns fans will miss the person, but Cam the player has been replaced by Grayson Allen.
Giving up the twins, along with those draft picks, was a hefty price to pay, but it's one the Suns would double down on after watching the last year unfold. When an all-time player becomes available, you move mountains to get them, and Durant is showing why he's worth it.