The Nuggets got the first dose of The Kevin Durant Experience, but kid will still be wet behind the ears for tonight's Suns-Sonics match-up
For basketball junkies, a contest between the best offensive team in the league and the most promising offensive phenom since LeBron qualifies as must see TV.
As a fan of the Suns and an owner of KD in my dynasty hoops league ... I'm full-on psyched.
You have to think Durant's looking forward to the game, too. In an interview last season on ESPN.com, KD gave props to the Suns --
So what can we expect from Durant v. PHX? Last night's Nuggets-Sonics tilt provides a pretty good preview. Like DEN (only moreso), the Suns play a wide-open, run-and-gun style of basketball.
Burt(Jonesboro, Ark): Hey Kevin, what is your favorite NBA team to watch?
Kevin Durant: I love the Suns. I love how they play. We try to run our offense [at the University of Texas] after them. I love watching the Suns.
Versus Denver, KD put up what should be a typical line for him during his first season -- 7/22 FG, 2/4 FT, 18 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 1 block, 3 treys. You'd like to see him get more efficient w/ his shots, but given the burden of carrying his team at age 18, that's quibbling. He's a fantasy basketball player's dream.
Durant should experience some growing pains in his rookie year, but by next season, I think you'll see him leapfrog the average draft position of at least one of the Suns -- Shawn Marion, Steve Nash and Amaré Stoudemire -- who are going in the Top 10 of most 2007 fantasy hoops drafts.
KD and the Suns have a lot in common. They can score on anyone. They fly up and down the court and finish in transition. They stroke the three. They're long and quick, but they don't like to bang on defense. Because they lack the girth to play physical basketball, they rely on guile and skill to beat their opponents.
At some point this season, that's going to be a problem for Durant and the Suns alike.
Although even as a rookie he'll put up gaudy numbers on regular basis, KD will get abused by some of the more man-sized swingmen in the NBA. Ron Artest will shut him down. Kobe will challenge him on every possession. The thought of Durant trying to defend LBJ in the post makes me cringe.
For Durant, whose real team is nowhere near playoff-caliber, that means a depressed score line for his fantasy hoops owners. For the Suns, the stakes are much higher -- the NBA championship hangs in the balance.
It seems likely that the Suns will again pay the price for their inability to go toe-to-toe w/ more physical clubs during the NBA playoffs. Phoenix forfeited perhaps their best shot at a title last season when they let the Spurs bully them in the semi-finals.
Once it became clear that the refs weren't going to call the game clean, Phoenix needed to sharpen their elbows and let the Spurs get on the receiving end of some very hard fouls. Instead, they filed their grievance w/ the NBA and settled for an early off-season. While I'd like to believe this season will be different, I can see the Suns beating their nemesis from San Antonio only if they learn to fight back.
Both Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns will give us plenty of pyrotechnics this NBA season. High scoring, high flying basketball is in the works. But the success of the 2007/08 campaign for both of tonight's combatants will depend on whether and how quickly they toughen up and take the battle to their opponents.
Let's get ready to rumble.