High Risk - High Reward, Durant Lands in Phoenix

Card Ladder
Feb 13, 20233 min read

Kevin Durant has and is one of the most prolific scorers this game has ever seen yet whether it be on or off the court, it always seems as it is an endless struggle with him. Despite making the NBA Finals 3/3 years during his time in Golden State, it was clear the workplace grew toxic and he was departing. Four years after the Brooklyn experiment failed, with mismanagement from the top down (literally). Durant finds himself heading to Phoenix, a team which was embarrassed by Luka Doncic last season. However if we look at the 2021 season, this was a team up 2-0 in the Finals with former #1 overall pick Deandre Ayton possibly coming to form. Unfortunately in the most Chris Paul way possible, the Suns ended up losing that series. Fast forward to today, now you have Paul, Booker, and Ayton teaming up with Durant in exchange for Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cameron Johnson (picks as well).

This move for Durant proves they are all in for the next 2 seasons, as Durant is 34 years old with a laundry list of injuries (Chris Paul is 37 years old). In four seasons with Brooklyn, he missed one entirely then has just played 35, 55, and 39 games. The stakes are higher than they've ever been and now put Paul in a position where another permanent stain of failure will be put on his legacy. Chris Paul first as a member of the Clippers had historic playoff collapses which was followed up by much of the same in Houston. With the big three of Booker, Durant, and himself, anything short of a Finals appearance would be a failure. While Durant himself is in a tough spot once again, showing he cannot do it as the leader of the team. He left Oklahoma City for a 73 win Warriors team which eliminated him the season prior. After winning 2 rings and making 3 finals in Golden State, he once again looked to be the leader. As we all know, his four tumultuous years in Brooklyn was just a chaotic less successful version of his Oklahoma days. If we recall, Durant demanded a trade this summer to Phoenix, in which the owner told him to "fuck off", as he had 0 leverage and just signed a 4 year extension. Now Durant finds himself arriving to a team that went an absurd 64-18 the year (21-22) before and made the Finals in 2021 (20-21). With Durant going to such an accomplished team, it puts him in the position where he was with Golden State. Anything short of a finals appearance is an utter failure and yet another stain on his legacy.

While the roster has the stability of a straw hut with the big bad wolf trying to blow it down outside the starting lineup. This team will likely add many solid veterans through the buyout market. Terrence Ross was signed after being bought out from the Orlando Magic. Ross has been one of the better bench players for the last decade now, and will give them another weapon off the bench. TJ Warren is also another interesting piece, as he is no stranger to Phoenix. Warren was drafted by the Suns in 2014 and played for them up until 2019, in which he averaged 18 points. He has struggled with injuries since then but was still averaging 10 points in just 18 minutes this season as a member of the Nets. Darius Bazley, has become sort of a meme in the card world, as an iconic failed investment of the 2020 boom. He is a hyper atheltic combo-4 who can contribute a spark of youth at times, if he gets the chance to play. Cameron Payne is still on the roster, which will come in handy if they play the Clippers.

The market seems relatively unmoved by this move and as surprising as that can be to some, it is understandable. Durant has burned a lot of people in the hobby for a myriad of reasons. If you recall, his run-up in 2020 was unlike any other player. Since that, it has been all down hill with every metric of measurement in the red. If Durant wins a third ring, it would really elevate his legacy and boost his all time ranking. Sports outlets like ESPN already have Durant top 15, so another title with a franchise that has never won one would likely boost his market. Unfortunately it is a wait and see approach with Durant and likely nothing will change until he does something concrete.