A few days removed from Kevin Durant’s pregame injury, it’s easy to empathize with Suns fans.
All that excitement. All that buildup. There he is – right in front of their eyes during warmups…and then boom.
Kevin Durant slips during warmups of Suns home debut, OUT with ankle injury.
READ📱 https://t.co/XFmJHoZur0@Sports360AZ #NBATwitter pic.twitter.com/51aRgAuTrd
— Eliav Gabay (@eliavgabay) March 9, 2023
Not only did he miss their 132-101 win over Oklahoma City, but he’ll be sidelined for at least three weeks and potentially the rest of the regular season.
For head coach Monty Williams, there’s only looking toward the future, spiritually and schematically.
“I don’t think you have to go back,” Williams said. “You may just hold on to what you have until he comes back. I didn’t want to add much more anyway. We have, maybe, enough to go forward…I’m all about the spacing around those guys [Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant]…watching him [Durant], he shows you a few things on his own and you can’t help but add it to the mix.”
From Devin Booker and Chris Paul to Landy Shamet, Cam Payne, and more – the health problems have been apparent for this team all year.
Still, they’ve managed to stick around the West’s top teams.
“We’ve been playing more games without KD than with him,” guard Chris Paul said. “It’s a lot of the dramatics going on right now…We just play. Whoever’s out there on that given night, you try to win.”
Durant’s injury also means the new acquisitions in Terrence Ross, TJ Warren, and Darius Bazley will have more room to show what they bring to the table.
“These obstacles create opportunities,” Williams said. “Maybe we learn something about another guy that we wouldn’t have learned had this not happened…Guys are gonna get to play, and they may get extended minutes.”
In Phoenix’s victory against the Thunder, Ross was the second highest scorer with 24 points (Booker dropped 44).
His teammates have helped him settle in.
“Any time somebody sees me trying to learn something new, they just give their two cents,” guard Terrence Ross said. “[They] help me understand the terminology, the process, how coach wants it. It’s easier each day.”
Ross’ next chance to contribute will be on Saturday as the Suns host the West’s second seed in the Sacramento Kings at 8:00pm.
The Suns currently sit at fourth place, three games ahead of the 5th-place Clippers.
However, in a tight conference like the West, a lot can change in three weeks.
.@Sports360AZ here at #Suns practice as the team prepares to be without Kevin Durant for at least the next 3 weeks:@Sports360AZ pic.twitter.com/R8wqisaYIr
— Eliav Gabay (@eliavgabay) March 10, 2023