Two main concerns for the Suns following addition of Kevin Durant

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The Phoenix Suns pulled off the shocker of the season when they acquired Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets prior to the trade deadline. The addition immediately catapulted the Suns from a fringe contender to a title favorite, at least in the eyes of many sportsbooks. And understandably so. Durant is an all-time talent. The type of guy who can singlehandedly swing a series, or a season, and pairing him with the likes of Chris Paul and Devin Booker automatically forms arguably the league’s most talented trio. They looked pretty darn good in Durant’s debut against the Charlotte Hornets

There are no guarantees in the NBA, though, and even the most talented teams are faced with questions and concerns, and the Suns are no different. Following the addition of Durant, the largest looming concern for Phoenix for the rest of the season is health.  

As his career has gone on, the only thing that has really been able to slow Durant is injuries, and they were a theme throughout his tenure in Brooklyn. He missed the entirety of the 2019-20 NBA season — his first with the Nets — after suffering an Achilles injury in the 2019 Finals as a member of the Warriors, and he was subsequently limited to just 35 games the following season as he worked his way back to full form. 

This season, he’s dealt with a knee injury that delayed his Phoenix debut and forced him to miss 20-plus games. When he’s been on the court, Durant has offered nothing short of elite and efficient production, but seeing him on the sideline has become an increasingly common occurrence.

If the Suns can stay healthy for the last month of the regular season and throughout their playoff push, they’ll have a legitimate chance to win the first title in franchise history. But, that’s a significant “if.” Health is an obvious prerequisite for any contending team, and the Suns are no exception, especially with two key contributors over 34 years old. 

In addition to Durant, Paul has also battled injury issues of his own in recent years. He’s missed separate stints of time due to heel and hip injuries just this season, and he has been forced to miss playoff games of enormous magnitude due to ailments in the past. The final two games of the Western Conference finals in 2018 come to mind. Even Booker, who has been largely healthy throughout his career to his point, missed a large chunk of time this season due to a groin strain, and those can linger. 

The Suns are dynamic on paper, but their success hinges entirely on two older players who both have a ton of miles on their odometers and a shared history of injury issues. While we all want to see the league’s top teams at full strength when the playoffs roll around, we’d be remiss not to at least acknowledge the risk in Phoenix’s new reality. Because if one of those guys goes down for a substantial amount of time, the Suns are cooked. As currently constructed, they’re just not built to survive a sustained absence from a key contributor, and therein lies Phoenix’s second biggest concern moving forward: Depth, or the lack thereof.

These two main concerns are inherently related because as long as the team can remain healthy, their depth won’t be tested as much. But, if injury issues start to pop up, that depth will indeed be put to the test, and that could be an issue. 

The addition of Durant raised the Suns’ ceiling substantially. However, it also decimated their depth. In order to land the future Hall-of-Fame forward, the Suns had to part with Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder. All three of those guys were major contributors over the past two seasons, including their run to the NBA Finals in 2021, though Crowder hadn’t played for the team at all this season. 

The Suns now boast arguably the most formidable first five in the league, but they have major questions after that, as they’ll be forced to rely on the likes of Cam Payne, Josh Okogie, Ish Wainright. Landry Shamet and Jock Landale. That’s not to say those guys aren’t good players, because they all are, but none of them are necessarily steeped in playoff success or experience, and to have a bench full of unproven players in terms of postseason play has to be at least a little bit of a concern for Phoenix. Ultimately though, the top end of their roster is so talented that it might not matter,   

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