Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns are preparing for Game 1 against the Los Angeles Clippers this Sunday, April 16. For Paul, it will present an opportunity to go up against someone he’s admired in Clippers point guard Russell Westbrook.
Throughout his illustrious career, Westbrook has been a 9-time All-Star and was named the 2016-17 NBA MVP. Westbrook has best been known for his passion for the game of basketball, something that has gained the respect of Paul as a competitor. While speaking to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, Paul praised Westbrook for what he’s brought to the Clippers during the 2022-23 season.
“I’m really close with Russell (Westbrook). Probably one of his biggest fans, just because of the energy that he brings. Everybody want to talk all that foolishness, but there’s a lot of people who don’t love to play the game like him. What he brought to that team, they’ve got some really good players. But guys who sort of keep to themselves. So Russ, coming in there was just a burst of energy and I think he gave them guys a lot of confidence.”
After starting the regular season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Westbrook was traded to the Utah Jazz at the NBA’s trade deadline. Eventually, Westbrook would negotiate a buyout before signing with the Clippers for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.
Westbrook has started to look like the player of old while playing for the Clippers. In his last nine games, Westbrook posted averages of 19.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game while shooting 52.0% from the field and 45.9% from three-point range.
Chris Paul Comments On Kevin Durant Adjusting to Phoenix Suns
When the Suns and Clippers take the court for Game 1, it will feature two of the most talented rosters in the league. Despite being the fourth seed, Phoenix is viewed by some as the favorites to make it out of the Western Conference.
That belief is due to the addition of superstar Kevin Durant. After being acquired in a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, Durant has played in just eight games with the Suns. Phoenix has posted a perfect 8-0 record in those games. While speaking to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, Paul was asked about the adjustment period when it comes to Durant joining the Suns. Paul emphasized that communication has been key, especially when it comes to getting Durant and the team on the same page.
“I don’t think it was one thing…You got to talk. You want to help that person understand what they are coming into. And you want to know what that person needs to thrive, especially somebody that important to the team…He understands arguments happen, discussions and whatnot, but that can be healthy.”
Devin Booker Excited to Play Alongside Kevin Durant With Suns
When Durant has been on the court for the Suns, the team has looked to have the makings of a championship contender. In his eight games with Phoenix, Durant has averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 57.0% from the field and 53.7% from three-point range.
While the entire Suns roster has thrived with Durant in the mix, superstar Devin Booker has also taken his game to another level. In his last five games while playing alongside Durant, the two superstars have combined for almost 50.0 points per game. Booker spoke about the opportunity to study and play alongside Durant as his teammate in a clip shared by the Phoenix Suns social media account.
“For me, it’s just learning that. I’m still a student of the game. And it’s understanding that’s one of it not the best scorer to ever play this game. So, I’m watching every step that [Kevin Durant] takes very closely and I’ve always watched his game that way, but from a distance. Now, the chance to get it live & right in front of you is even better.”