PHOENIX SUNS

Perkins: NBA ‘seeing the polished version of Kevin Durant’

Jan 24, 2024, 10:20 AM | Updated: 10:21 am

Kevin Durant celebrates...

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns reacts to a Suns dunk behind Jarred Vanderbilt #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Crypto.com Arena on January 11, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant is a known playmaker and bucket getter. At the end of the day, Easy Money Sniper isn’t just a cool nickname.

But while points and KD go hand in hand, his recent stretch is showing another side of Durant to one of his former teammates.

“I think right now we’re just seeing a polished version of Kevin Durant,” ESPN NBA analyst and former hooper Kendrick Perkins told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke. “When he’s in that zone, everyone that’s watching is like, ‘That’s going in.’ And he believes it’s going in.

“It’s fun to share the floor with him. It’s even better to watch him as a fan and just a student of the game.”

Through 36 games played, Durant is doing Durant things, averaging 29.6 points on 53.1% from the field and 46.4% from deep to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists across 37.1 minutes per game.

But it’s been his most recent two-game stretch that has really turned heads.

Already a big part of the Suns’ four-game winning streak, Durant took over Phoenix’s last two victories behind a pair of 40-point outings on 59.6% shooting and 45.5% from three-point range. He also hit a dagger of a game-winner against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night to extend the Suns’ win streak to six games.

He added another 15 rebounds, 10 assists and five blocks combined in that two-game span.

It was already a big week for Durant before dropping 43 on the Bulls, too, as the forward was named an NBA Player of the Week (Western Conference) for the 32nd time in his career thanks to his efforts from Jan. 15-21.

Kendrick Perkins on Suns’ turning point led by Kevin Durant

More than two weeks ago, the Suns were barely hanging above .500 at 19-18.

Since then, though, they’ve turned on the heat behind a six-game winning streak.

Sure, Durant is firing on all cylinders, but in Perkins’ eyes, Phoenix’s success stems from one thing.

“The thing about the Phoenix Suns is the word ‘trust’ comes to mind,” Perkins said. “They need to trust Frank Vogel. Frank Vogel is a hell of a coach. Frank Vogel knows what the hell he’s doing.

“The success has been Kevin Durant taking over the game, but I think moreso you’re starting to see the spirit there. I think the more KD trusts Frank Vogel, the rest will follow. (Devin Booker) will follow, Bradley Beal will follow, Grayson Allen will follow.”

Jusuf Nurkic the key?

As for the area of improvement the former NBA center would like to see addressed, it starts and stops with forward Jusuf Nurkic’s defensive intensity.

“I’d like to see a little bit more out of (Jusuf Nurkic) on the defensive side of things and really, really embracing that defensive role like (Los Angeles Lakers big man) Anthony Davis has done,” Perkins said.

“I think he’s taken major steps but in order for them to get where they’re trying to go — and that’s the NBA Finals — Nurkic is going to be the key.”

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