Meeting of Phoenix and Durant

On February 9 (Korean time), a super big deal broke out at the point where the trade deadline was one day left. The main characters are Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix, who did not give up on the dream of winning, threw the winning number of signing Durant, and immediately created a lot of topics. Can the meeting between Durant and Phoenix have a happy ending?

*This article was published in the May issue of Rookie and was completed on April 21, 2023. The scoring machine district 1 option

landed in Phoenix .

Perhaps, as a player, there is someone who has the nickname of the greatest compliment. Kevin Durant is the best scoring machine in the NBA.

It was during his Golden State days that Durant was given the title of district 1 option. Durant made the Finals all three years he played for Golden State, and won two championships.

He was criticized for taking the too easy path by joining the 73-win team, but Durant’s power was undisputed. When the team needed it, he always showed up and scored, and led an overwhelming series victory in both finals against Cleveland. Finals MVP was also the share of Durant consecutively.

In the summer of 2019, Durant, who spent his golden years at Golden State, obtained free agent status and stood at a crossroads of another choice. Numerous stories were poured out about staying in Golden State and transferring to other teams. After much consideration, Durant’s decision was to transfer to Brooklyn.

Durant, who took a year off from rehab for an Achilles tendon injury after moving to Brooklyn, made a comeback in the 2020-2021 season. It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t played in a real game for a year, so it’s hard to believe that Durant’s performance hasn’t changed much from before his injury. In addition, since they welcomed Kyrie Irving and James Harden as teammates, Durant’s Brooklyn was ranked as the number one candidate for the championship.

However, the evil spirit of injury that prevented the three-pit at Golden State prevented Durant from winning another title again. Brooklyn, which met Milwaukee in the second round, suffered a crushing defeat amid super bad news in which Harden and Irving suffered consecutive injuries.

Brooklyn, who confirmed his strong power while playing a season. Here, even the players of the Ring Expedition joined, and were called overwhelming candidates for the 2021-2022 season. Even before opening the lid, there was a gaze that talked about whether they would even be able to do a three-fit, rather than whether or not they would win.

However, as Irving unexpectedly left due to the issue of non-vaccination, Brooklyn’s plan began to twist. There was constant noise throughout the season, and Harden, who left his mind, headed to Philadelphia, demanding a trade. In the end, Brooklyn was eliminated in the first round by Boston with a 4-game losing streak, and had its worst season.

Frustrated, Durant requested a trade ahead of the first season of a new four-year contract. His trade request made waves.

There were opinions that they understood Durant’s feelings, but there were quite a few who criticized him. Some pointed out that although his skills are excellent, he is not good enough as a leader to lead the championship. Charles Barkley, who spared no vitriol toward Durant, set the edge, saying, “Kevin Durant was a bus rider in Golden State.”

Durant changed his mind and stayed with the team, but his accompaniment with Brooklyn did not last long. He remained in Brooklyn and led the team’s run, but his colleague Irving requested a transfer, and Durant’s position was also shaken. Durant had no intention of staying with a team whose direction had become ambiguous due to Irving’s departure. His transfer was swift, and he moved to Phoenix before the deadline.

Phoenix, a desert thirsty for championships

NBA boasts a long history. But the road to victory is tough. Currently, 12 of the 30 NBA teams have never won a championship. There are also 6 teams that did not make it to the finals.

The Phoenix Suns, founded in 1968, is also a team whose thirst for championships has reached its peak. In the club’s history, it has reached the finals three times, but it has not led to the championship. At the end of the playoffs, they were always left as supporting characters.스포츠토토

Two MVP players from the club, Charles Barkley and Steve Nash, also failed to bring Arizona a championship. Barkley was stopped by Michael Jordan’s Chicago in the 1993 Finals, and Nash, who won back-to-back MVP, has an unfortunate history of not even making it to the Finals at all. Under Nash and Amare Stoudemire, the Phoenix never won a championship.

After the era of Nash and Stoudemire ended, Phoenix went through a period of wandering. I haven’t been able to step on the playoff stage for 10 years. It was the darkest period in the club’s history.

Phoenix, which has undergone a major rebuild since the 2015-2016 season. The only consolation for Phoenix fans during these tough times was shooting guard Devin Booker. On March 14, 2017, he scored a whopping 70 points in a game against Boston. However, Phoenix lost in a game where Booker scored 70 points. It was a depressing reality for the club.
In addition to Booker, other top prospects such as Dragan Bender and Josh Jackson failed one after another, and Phoenix was unable to complete the rebuilding effort. It was in the 2019-2020 season that hope began to show. The recruitment of outside free agents and the growth of promising players overlapped, and I had the most satisfying season after starting the rebuilding. Even though they didn’t make the playoffs, their eight-game winning streak in the Orlando bubble was impressive.

When a way out was seen, the Phoenix front started investing without delay. Oklahoma City gave up Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., and future draft picks to acquire Chris Paul, who had fluttered his wings of resurgence. It was to plant a winning mentality while adding a veteran who would be the center of a team focused on young players.

The investment was successful. Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges, who were promising prospects from the existing team, showed rapid growth, and veterans such as Paul and Jay Crowder added more seasoning. Phoenix, which has become a team that no one in the league can easily ignore, took the second seed in the West in the 2020-2021 season and advanced to the playoffs after 11 years.

Even in the playoffs, Phoenix showed off formidable potential. They beat the Lakers, Phoenix, and Clippers in order to reach the finals. Field Marshal Paul enjoyed the thrill of advancing to the finals for the first time in his life by performing a one-man show in the final game of the series against the Clippers.

Phoenix took advantage of Milwaukee by winning two wins in the following finals. It seemed that the Phoenix fans’ long-awaited victory in the finals was right around the corner. However, Phoenix, which fought well, gave up four games and collapsed like a lie. The lack of experience of the players was revealed, and the presence of opponent ace Giannis Antetokounmpo was too outstanding.

Although they failed to win, Phoenix was strong. After running an unstoppable winning streak from the beginning of the 2021-2022 season, he harvested a whopping 64 wins in the regular season and comfortably won the No. 1 seed. There was even an experience accumulated in the previous playoffs, so there was a story that Phoenix was right in the right time to win this time.

However, the door to victory did not open. Phoenix, who sweated and won against the 8th seed New Orleans from the first round, struggled against Dallas with Luka Doncic and Jaylen Brunson in the lead in the second round. In the end, the season ended in humiliation in front of the home fans, suffering a crushing loss in the last 7 games, once dragged by 46 points.

Paul, who was born in 1985, could not go against the years, and the aftermath of aging was revealed in the game. The young ace Booker has excellent explosive power, but has a lot of ups and downs, so he seemed to be lacking compared to other super aces. Ayton, the core of Inside, has not grown as much as expected at the time of the first pick.

With the failure to win the championship in the previous two seasons, expectations for Phoenix’s challenge to the top have dropped significantly. In addition, this season, Jay Crowder left the team from the beginning of the season, and as key players such as Cam Johnson left one after another, available resources were greatly reduced. At one time, he suffered a crisis of being pushed out of the playoffs.

It was a situation where they could rise to the top again if they managed their power well, but it was difficult to challenge for the championship. No one evaluated Phoenix as a favorite to win. It was just an ordinary powerhouse that advanced to the playoffs.

The Phoenix front moved quickly, led by Matt Ishbia, the new owner who bought the club for the highest price ever. I couldn’t miss Durant, a super-special player who came out on the trade market. The cherished young guns Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, along with four unprotected first-round picks, came along to sign Durant. It is a superpower to go all-in to win.

District 1 option and Phoenix meet, will the dream of winning come true?

After signing Durant, the evaluation of Phoenix has changed greatly. Phoenix’s ranking has risen noticeably in the winning odds of gamblers. Phoenix, who finished the regular season relatively leisurely after solidifying the rankings early, succeeded in advancing to the playoffs as the 4th seed.

Durant, who had already been sidelined for an extended period with a knee injury in Brooklyn, did not make his Phoenix debut until March. However, after only playing 3 games, he fell and injured himself during warm-up, so he also broke away again. However, Phoenix fans were relieved that he avoided major injuries.

Although he didn’t play in many games, the Phoenix with Durant was strong enough. Durant won all eight regular season games in Phoenix. In contrast to Kyrie Irving, who transferred to Dallas around the same time, was in shock of missing the playoffs.

Despite being a superstar, Durant, who stands out for his altruism, adapted to the new team without much difficulty this time around. Durant has excellent off-the-ball movement and concise play. Coexistence with Devin Booker and Chris Paul was completed without any problems. Durant, Booker, and Paul are all the best midrange masters in the league.

Even after moving to Phoenix, Durant still takes care of efficiency and is active as the best striker. Durant seems to have improved his 3-point shooting sense as the pressure on him has eased compared to his time in Brooklyn. He had a high three-point shooting percentage of 53.7%. The mid-range jumper, which is close to the cheat key, is also powerful. The role of a big game solver, which was felt to be lacking as a booker, was clearly resolved with the recruitment of Durant.

What mountains will Phoenix have to climb to ascend the throne with Durant? First of all, we need to solve the problem of high dependence on main players.

Phoenix’s regret after signing Durant is that it has not been able to actively recruit additional players due to the lack of remaining resources. Darius Basley and Terrence Ross joined, but both were out of the main playoff rotation. Especially in the bench section, the sluggishness of Ross, who expected explosive power, is quite disappointing.

Poor back-up problems can also result in an overload of key players. Already in the first two matches of the first round, Durant averaged 44.5 minutes and Booker 44.1 minutes. As the close match continued, the conditions for the two players to rest were not easily prepared.

In the playoff stage, you have to win four times in a best-of-seven series to win the championship. If you lose strength from the beginning, you will have to fight more and more physically, but there is no special way to do it because the backup is poor. In difficult circumstances, if Booker, who suffers from frequent hamstring injuries, or Durant, who suffers from frequent lower body injuries, gets hurt, the championship plan may go awry.

At the same time, the most worrisome thing is whether the veteran Paul will maintain his performance. Paul showed a tired appearance in the playoffs last season, unable to overcome the aftermath of aging + sloppy matchup hunting. It is all the more worrisome because Cameron Payne, who has been absent throughout the season, has not been able to participate in the early playoff schedule.

Durant, who has been more passive than usual, probably because he has just recovered from his injury, needs to be more active in the playoffs. Durant also played 45 minutes in the first game of the first round, which was Phoenix’s first playoff game this season, but his presence faded with only 15 field goal attempts. For this, it seems that more tactical movements are needed to save Durant.

Since it is a gamble on the future, if the team succeeds in winning the championship, signing Durant will be the best trade in Phoenix history, and if unsatisfactory results come out, the word “failure” will be engraved. Anyway, Durant, one of the world’s best scorers, is a player worth trusting the club’s fate to. Here, there are also reliable reinforcements such as Booker, Paul, and Ayton.

Durant was even sarcastically told that he could not win anywhere other than Golden State. Will he be able to become an oasis in the Phoenix desert and win his third career title? Attention is drawn to Phoenix’s move.

Examples of trades during the season that led to victory

What are some representative examples of teams that have benefited greatly from trades during the relatively recent season? The closest ones are the 2004 Detroit and the 2008 Lakers.

Detroit acquired Rashid Wallers through a trade with Atlanta during the 2003-2004 season, and Wallace became the last puzzle of the second Bad Boys by building ‘R&B Brothers’ with Ben Wallas. Detroit gained momentum and won the championship by defeating the Lakers in the Finals. Detroit, who made it to the finals the following year, was blocked by Tim Duncan’s San Antonio and failed to refit.

The Lakers’ acquisition of Pau Gasol was also a successful season trade. In February 2008, the Lakers, who embraced Gasol in a trade with Memphis, succeeded in advancing to the finals for three consecutive years and won two championships. Gasol and Kobe Bryant are a luxury combination that is still talked about.

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