Kevin Durant. Two-time NBA Finals MVP, former NBA MVP, 13-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA, future first ballot Hall of Famer. Known as one of the all-time greats, the Slim Reaper, even as he ages, remains one of the premier players in the NBA.
His sole presence makes any team a legitimate contender to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy every year. As a result, his teams have limited assets because they attempt to maximize their chances to win immediately. This is the case with his team on the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns do not control any of their first-round picks for the foreseeable future, making them limited in the assets that they do have to help add talent to the roster. This is similar to the Nets, who after trading for James Harden, could only significantly improve their team through the buyout market or finding hidden gems in free agency.
Obviously, the Suns had to give up assets to acquire Durant and the Nets did not, but the team that Phoenix had before acquiring Durant clearly was not capable of winning a championship, so making the move for Durant was a no-brainer, even to this day.
However, even if it was necessary to give up a lot of the Sun’s assets, it has left them in a dilemma that Durant’s former team had.
While Durant’s Brooklyn Nets teams were incredibly talented, they lacked depth. When Durant was injured, they struggled immensely at times, impacting their seeding. With Durant’s recent injury history, missing at least 27 games in four straight seasons, the Suns lack of depth has the potential to severely deter the team from getting a high seed for the playoffs, just like it did for Brooklyn.
Outside of injury, the Suns ability to win a title this year will be strongly tied to how well they did filling out the rest of the roster around Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Deandre Ayton. Frank Vogel for sure may make a positive impact, but as the most recent NBA Champions have shown, you need about seven or eight players you can trust to play significant time down the stretch.
Even though Durant and Booker were spectacular against the Nuggets, they did not receive enough from the supporting cast to have a legitimate chance of winning the series. When you can get a player like Durant, a proven champion and great, you obviously do it, but it’s important to also think about how to surround your stars with enough players who can alleviate their large burdens.
Only time will tell, but if not enough of the Suns free-agent signings pan out, Phoenix will be left with little margin for error every game due to their heavy reliance on their stars, suffering from the same issue that the Nets had when Durant was on the roster.