I would’ve never guessed Kevin Durant would have ever donned a Phoenix Suns uniform. I was actually buying into him being a long-term Brooklyn Net; and looking to carve out a memorable tenure in Brooklyn unlike his ever forgettable tenure on the Golden State Warriors which never really vaulted him on the all-time list regardless of winning back-to-back championships there over the course of 3 years. I actually had the Denver Nuggets pegged as the favorite to come out of the Western Conference but with the trades the Suns and Mavericks made for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving; as much as I admire Nikola Jokic’s other worldly ability on the floor with a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr and how dominant that could look, their chances at the Finals has went from 80% for me to about 55% at the moment. I’m a LeBron guy and even at 38 years old with the Lakers sitting at 27-32 I won’t count LeBron out as well with the new toys Rob Pelinka acquired for him over the trade deadline but the Phoenix Suns are just in a better position at the moment; and Kevin Durant will be back by March 1st to help strike fear unto the rest of the NBA, it’s only up from here for Phoenix.
Out East it’s between the Philadelphia 76ers,Boston Celtics, and Milwaukee Bucks with the Miami Heat of course as a dark-horse because Bam Adebayo really is a jack of all trades and if their top guns Jimmy Butler,Tyler Herro,and Kyle Lowry are going to be healthy playoff time they are going to be an extremely tough out in the Eastern Conference. The Phoenix Suns already smelt the NBA Finals 2 years ago and actually went ahead early on in their series versus the Milwaukee Bucks but Giannis Antetokoumpo saw the green light versus Deandre Ayton and the rest was history. Not to mention Mike Budenholzer who doesn’t get enough credit for the adjustments he made throughout that series practically giving Chris Paul and Devin Booker whatever they wanted and forcing someone else to beat them. Well Monty Williams could’ve made his own adjustment by force-feeding Deandre Ayton which was the adjustment I was awaiting as the series proceeded but than again Ayton just wasn’t skilled enough offensively to do much against Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokoumpo, two of the league’s best rim-protectors and defenders in the post if not the best.
That left the Phoenix Suns with Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson two practical babies at that time with little experience and limited skill-sets which weren’t going to overcome the Bucks’s feisty perimeter defense anchored by Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. I never thought of it watching the 2021 NBA Finals but if Kevin Durant had suited up alongside Devin Booker and Chris Paul that season Giannis Antetokoumpo would be ring-less at the moment because he would’ve gave the Suns all that scoring De’Andre Ayton,Cam Johnson,Mikal Bridges,and Cameron Payne just weren’t going to provide when the Suns needed it. After all it is Kevin Durant we are talking about here, Durant has been amazing at the NBA level but I’ll always remember him for what he did before he even graced a NBA floor. The 66-point game at Rucker Park is a childhood memory for me, I was quite frankly more impressed with him showing up in front of a massive crowd in Harlem,Manhattan and actually showing up and not putting on a mediocre performance in front of 100’s of youth who looked to him for inspiration and whose lives he made an impact on leaving them with a memory they’ll take on into their futures as aspiring adults.
I hated Kevin Durant for his move to Golden State, not because I am a LeBron James fan and watched him close LeBron’s championship window for 3 seasons but because I wanted to see him overtake the rising Golden State Warriors not join them. But fair enough he won his 2 titles which I give him partial credit for till this day but winning one in Phoenix will held much more weight,why? Well, Chris Paul remains ring-less and he’s been so great he is still regarded as one of the top 5 point-guards in NBA history. Making Chris Paul a champion would be the ultimate accomplishment for Kevin Durant and that’s probably one of Kevin’s main motives now in the Valley of the Sun. So who’s stopping the Phoenix Suns? Only the lack of health, or maybe LeBron James if he’s serious about giving it his all with a healthy Anthony Davis as his window to compete for one last championship closes ever-less. Maybe Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving work some magic together in Dallas or the Warriors defy all odds once again this season? Only time will tell but it’s looking like perfect timing for the Phoenix Suns to finally hang their first championship banner this season.