The NBA has become a league largely defined by duos. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in Boston. Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic in Dallas. Joel Embid and James Harden in Philadelphia. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the Clippers. LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers. De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis in Sacramento. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in Miami. Yes Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. with the Grizzlies.
The Warriors, Nuggets and Bucks are teams led by a superstar with a less defined #2, although I would argue that Jrue Holiday is clearly Milwaukee’s second best player at this point, as is Klay Thompson, certainly offensively, in the Golden State with the way he’s been photographing since the turn of the calendar.
Anyway, there’s a newly formed duo that’s quickly establishing itself as the class of the league: Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, who combined for 73 points in Phoenix’s 110-106 win over the Mavericks on Sunday.
Durant and Booker made 27 of 42 shots combined, including 4 of 8 of 3 and 15 of 17 from the free throw line. They look like they’ve been playing together forever, but in fact this was only their third game together. You have yet to lose.
Of course, Durant is the most fitting superstar that might have ever played the game. He doesn’t need a lot of shots or the ball in certain places. It allows everyone else to take their preferred positions while flowing into jumpers that are virtually impenetrable to defense.
Check out this shot Durant took against Tim Hardaway Jr. who played as best he could on defense in what turned out to be the game winner by under 12 seconds.
The Suns now have what is likely the best trio of pick-and-roll initiators in history in Durant, Booker and Chris Paul, the latter of whom is no longer a superstar but will still be essential to Phoenix’s playoff-era success when the teams charge Durant and Booker. The Mavericks left Paul alone several times Sunday, and he twice made them pay with catch-and-shoot threes, as did Ish Wainwright.
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The Suns produced quality shots throughout the game in Dallas as they reversed the ball from doubles teams for either open 3s or second-side attacks. Booker, with Durant a looming threat keeping Dallas from fully committing to Booker doubles teams, couldn’t be stopped one-on-one, reaching the edge and finishing on multiple occasions. On the other hand, we all know Durant can’t be stopped or even moderately bothered by just one defender. Together these two will own the midrange.
Check out this duo’s numbers since trading:
- Duration: 26.6 PPG, 69 percent FG, 53 percent 3-PT, 88 percent FT, 7.3 REB
- Books: 36 PPG, 58 percent FG, 50 percent 3-PT, 7.6 AST, 5.3 REB
There are certain basketball suits that you know will or will not work before you even see them on the court. Russell Westbrook would never work with the Lakers. Kevin Durant has always been a video game glitch alongside Devin Booker in Phoenix, and after just three games we’re already seeing this duo’s peak performance unfold.