PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Kevin Durant 7th in ESPN’s 2023-24 NBARank

Oct 13, 2023, 12:02 PM | Updated: 2:02 pm

Kevin Durant (35) of the Phoenix Suns catches his breath during the fourth quarter of the Denver Nu...

Kevin Durant (35) of the Phoenix Suns catches his breath during the fourth quarter of the Denver Nuggets' 118-102 win at Ball Arena in Denver on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Limited to only eight regular season games for the Phoenix Suns in 2022-23, 35-year-old Kevin Durant will have a chance to have a full season to prepare for a hopeful NBA title run.

The former MVP will take the court alongside Devin Booker and newly acquired Bradley Beal. But he is still considered the most dangerous of the trio.

ESPN’s annual preseason NBARank exercise has Durant ranked seventh out of the top 10 players for the 2023-24 season. He moved up one spot from his 2022 rank, joining Booker (11th) and Beal (37th) in the top 50.

But why did he move up one spot? ESPN’s Kevin Pelton explained that it really came down to his age.

Durant didn’t really change tiers, shuffling ahead of James largely because of James’ age (39) in December, while Durant just turned 35). We’re also a little farther removed from Durant’s poor shooting (39%) in the 2022 playoffs’ first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.

Durant placed ahead of Lakers stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James, while also edging out the Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

His first full season as a Sun also prompts questions about his efficiency. Will Durant be able to replicate his regular season play from 2022-23 in the postseason?

His 56% shooting and his effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 61% (accounting for the added value of 3s) were both career highs. Durant’s eFG% dipped to 52% under heavy defensive attention in the playoffs.

If Durant can reemerge his past playoff performances, such as his performance in the conference semifinals in 2021 where he averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 12 games, he can once again be considered as the top player in the league, Pelton adds.

In order from sixth to first, Jayson Tatum, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo all placed in front of Durant on ESPN’s NBARank.

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