Analyst Reveals Suns With Most To Prove In 2024 Playoffs

Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Suns, NBA
Mar 3, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with guard Bradley Beal (3) during the first quarter of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be a team in the NBA with more pressure on them coming down the stretch of the 2023-24 regular season than the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have gone all-in on this current group of players to try and win a title, and there is a chance they don’t even make the playoff field.

Currently, in eighth place in the Western Conference, Phoenix is as close to ninth place as they are to sixth, which is the last spot outside of the NBA Play-In Tournament. Getting out of the play-in is their No. 1 goal right now, as anything can happen in single elimination games.

That puts a lot of pressure on players who pushed to join the Suns. The first of those acquisitions was Kevin Durant. Ahead of the 2023 NBA trade deadline, Durant was traded by the Brooklyn Nets out west.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Phoenix Suns Updates

Despite being a multi-time champion, pressure is on Durant to perform. His tenure with the Nets was a disastrous one from a team success standpoint and he is looking to change that. ESPN’s NBA analyst Brian Windhorst believes that Durant is one of the players with the most to prove during the playoffs this year.

“Durant is a two-time Finals MVP, a two-time champion, regular-season MVP, one of the greatest scorers in NBA history and one of the greatest Olympians in USA Basketball history. He also forced his way to the Suns last season and was a factor in getting Beal to join him and Devin Booker. Evaluating Durant’s career is nuanced and complex because his greatness has been mixed because of his lack of team success since leaving Golden State. Winning again would mean so much for him,” wrote Windhorst.

There are varying opinions on the legacy that Durant is leaving behind. There is no doubt that he is one of the most talented scorers to ever play the game, but he is lacking validation from some for the titles that he won.

Winning with the Suns would go a long way to changing that. Bradley Beal has similar challenges he is facing this postseason after being traded from the Washington Wizards to the desert ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Phoenix Suns Updates

Beal received a full no-trade clause and monster contract from the Wizards during the 2022 NBA offseason. He committed to Washington but always seemed to have one foot out of the door. 

The no-trade clause meant he could force his way anywhere, and he picked the Suns. That, in the opinion of Windhorst, is as big as any as to why Beal has so much to prove in this year’s playoffs.

“Beal exercised his no-trade clause to handpick the Suns last summer, forcing his way in a deal expected to create a superteam. But Beal’s season has, once again, been marred with injury and inconsistency. He’s made one All-Star team in the past five years. He hasn’t won a playoff series since 2017. The loaded Suns are fighting to avoid a play-in bid. There are other factors involved in all that underachievement, of course, but it’s unfortunately been defining this stretch of his career. The playoffs will decide what sort of year this has been for the Suns and Beal,” wrote Windhorst.

The Suns will be a team that a lot of people keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Their future could be dependent on finding success in this year’s postseason, as they lack the assets to make many other moves.

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