Phoenix Suns return home, continue tweaking new look with Kevin Durant

Mar 7, 2023, 6:55 PM | Updated: 7:49 pm
Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after scoring in the second half against the Chicago Bu...
Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after scoring in the second half against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on March 03, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Not getting happy on the farm is one of the sayings from Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams that has taken on a life of its own, enough for his players to repeat it when making a similar point.

Through three games, his team has been pretty darn impressive with Kevin Durant. A 3-0 record, ridiculous efficiency from Durant and Devin Booker, plus just the way it looks on the floor has produced some well-deserved hype.

Before Durant’s debut when the Suns were able to get some scrimmaging in, you could sense the combination of excitement and wonderment from guys like Booker and Deandre Ayton for how it was working.

In terms of a regular season example, you’re not going to find a much better example of not getting too happy on the farm than this stretch.

Phoenix has plenty left to both establish and untap with Durant, as well as other new additions Terrence Ross, T.J. Warren and Darius Bazley.

This is the first time Durant has been traded and changed teams in the middle of the season.

While he is 15 years into a storied career, that’s still an adjustment.

“Definitely different,” he said after practice on Tuesday. “The basketball side is the easier part but the life part, life piece of it is definitely different. Getting up and moving from a totally different coast but I’ve been on the West coast before, played in the Western Conference the majority of my career so I’ve been coming to Phoenix a lot.

“To be living here now, it’s pretty cool.”

Durant said the majority of the moving his life across the country process is now done.

“Looking forward to just locking in with the team and getting better,” he said.

On that point, Williams noted a few things he wanted to tighten up with the practice time at home the Suns will have with four of their next five games at Footprint Center.

There’s some confusion to clear up on what they do while adding new wrinkles as well that walkthroughs help with.

Offensively, Williams said the shot-making ability of the team had the results making it look better than the actual execution, while he wants quicker coverage adjustments on defense.

For Durant specifically, the spacing changes on offense and Durant’s length is something they can take advantage of more defensively through what they run.

We’ve seen the latter in action already.

“Just a part of who he is,” Williams said of that block. “That wasn’t a scheme or a strategy, it was just him making a play after there was a breakdown.”

When it comes to what has been aiding Durant’s transition, he credited the majority of his career being on good teams and stints with USA Basketball.

He said there are smaller things to figure out and he wants to acclimate to the offense a bit quicker but agreed the Suns’ style of play with heavy ball and player movement is preferable.

“When everybody’s involved and touching the ball and feeling that energy through the basketball, just makes it even better,” Durant said. “It also makes our offense unpredictable with moving that ball.”

All of this will be on display in Phoenix for the first time on Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s a strange fact given it’s exactly four weeks after he was traded from the Brooklyn Nets, but his knee injury and a road trip delayed the moment.

It’ll be a big night. But Williams is not interested in that part of it.

“We got a game to win, man,” he said. “I’m not into all the dramatics and all that stuff. We’re just approaching the game the same way we always have. That stuff doesn’t even get into my thinking. We’re out to win the game. I’m sure he’ll tell you the same thing. That’s our focus right now.”

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