Phoenix Suns: Best Odds Out West?

Mar 5, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) during the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As of this writing, the Phoenix Suns have the best odds (+240) to win the Western Conference, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Second is the Denver Nuggets (+340), followed by the Golden State Warriors (+550) and Los Angeles Clippers (+650). The odds significantly switched in Phoenix’s favor after their blockbuster acquisition of superstar forward Kevin Durant. In the legendary words of Kevin Durant, “Ya’ll know who I am.” The Vegas oddsmakers know who Durant is; they believe he significantly helps the Suns’ chances of winning the West this season.

Phoenix Suns: Best Odds Out West?

Suns Acquire Plug-And-Play Superstar

Newly acquired superstar Durant has only played three games with the Phoenix Suns. They won all three games before injuring his ankle during warmups. He should be re-evaluated in about a week. The Suns are optimistic he will return for the playoffs, if not before. 

Three games is a minimal sample size, but the Suns still showed glimpses of their offensive firepower during that time. They scored over 125 points in two of the three games. They also had an average point differential of 13. Durant seemed to fit seamlessly into the Suns’ offensive rhythm from the second he stepped on the floor in a Phoenix jersey. The last he played against the Dallas Mavericks, Durant scored 37 points on 71/60/91 shooting splits. 

An underrated aspect of Durant’s game is his defensive ability. It frequently gets overlooked because he’s such a historically gifted scorer. Durant’s six-foot-ten length is something the Suns were missing before the trade. As great as Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson were for the Suns, Durant gives them another dimension on both sides of the ball. He secures about seven rebounds a game with over a block a game. That extra element of height, rim protection, and switchability will pay dividends, especially when going up against some of these teams in the West that have talented forwards.

It would be nice for the Suns to have a couple more games of Durant back with the team to get acclimated before the playoffs start. However, his talent and plug-and-play ability suggest they will be fine if that doesn’t happen.

Importance of Stars in Playoffs

The playoffs are played differently than the regular season. The pace of the game slows down. It’s a combination of the best teams playing and them also being more focused defensively. Teams don’t score as quickly in transition or as easily from broken plays. As a result, their half-court offense becomes even more critical. Star players that can get their own bucket or create offense for others in a half-court setting become more vital for teams. 

The Phoenix Suns have arguably one of the historically best trios in terms of creating their own shot and shooting in the midrange with the trio of Chris PaulDevin Booker, and Durant. Throw in center DeAndre Ayton into the mix as someone that can hit open shots and take advantage of mismatches. You have a recipe for one of the best offensive teams in the league. 

The Suns are extremely top-heavy and will benefit from having this offseason to address their roster depth. The good news, however, is that in the playoffs, the rotations shrink. Stars are relied on to play heavy minutes. So even if they had a ton of depth, the foursome of Paul, Booker, Durant, and Ayton would be playing a ton regardless. Also, they all have experience playing in the Finals, with Durant having two rings from Golden State. That’s invaluable in the playoffs and could be a deciding factor in a playoff matchup against teams that lack that amount of experience.

Final Thoughts on Phoenix Suns

The Suns are certainly with flaws of their own. They don’t have much depth, and their stars have a history of injuries. In addition, they have only had three games of all playing together. Still, the other teams in the Western Conferences also have some flaws. In the playoffs, where the game slows down, and stars are relied on much more, having the best starters should give them the advantage over anyone in the West.