Phoenix Suns superstar Kevin Durant is progressing toward a return to the court as soon as March 29, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Durant has been sidelined since a pregame incident saw him roll his ankle before a March 8 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant’s projected return to the court would come at a crucial time for Phoenix. “Durant would give this team a major boost, especially given their recent stretch where it’s been tough to grab a win,” Sports Illustrated wrote on March 25. Since joining the Suns, Durant has played in three games, each of them wins, and has averaged 26.7 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 69% from the field.
Even though the Suns are in fourth place in the Western Conference and just two games ahead of the No.7-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, they became the favorites to win the West, Charania tweeted about an hour after reporting on Durant’s imminent return.
FanDuel Sportsbook puts Phoenix’s odds at +700, ahead of +800 for the Denver Nuggets, who are currently in first place in the standings with a three-game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Suns Superstar Kevin Durant Eyes Return Next Week
When Durant has been on the court with the Suns’ other two stars, Devin Booker and Chris Paul, Phoenix has looked to have all of the makings of a potential NBA Finals contender.
“In a small sample-size of 63 minutes played together, the three superstars put up a 133.1 offensive rating and a 100 defensive rating that led to wins over the Hornets (105-91), Bulls (125-104) and a nail-biter on the road over the Kyrie Irving-Luka Doncic-led Mavericks (130-126),” Arizona Sports’ Austin Scott wrote on March 24.
Phoenix is preparing for a crucial matchup on March 31 against the Nuggets. The game could have monumental implications when it comes to potential seeding ahead of the NBA playoffs because six teams are within 2.5 games of the Suns. Phoenix has won just two of its last eight games and three consecutive losses before beating the Philadelphia 76ers on March 25. The Suns were shorthanded in the game, with big man Deandre Ayton sidelined in a hip contusion.
“One hundred percent, I think that’s good momentum heading into the next one,” Booker said of snapping a three-game losing streak, according to Arizona Sports’ Jake Anderson. “We showed, even without [Durant and Ayton], that we can figure it out, play hard, play on both ends and it was a good outcome for us.”
Phoenix Looks to Get Durant Back to Prepare for Playoffs
The Suns have just eight games remaining for the rest of the 2022-23 season to build on-court chemistry between Durant, Booker, Paul and Ayton, who was expected to play on March 27 at the Utah Jazz, according to The Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin.
In the penultimate game of the season, against the Los Angeles Lakers, who are in ninth place in the West, Durant could face LeBron James if James can return from a torn tendon in his foot, according to Charania on his March 27 appearance FanDuel TV.
If the matchup happens, it will be the first time Durant and James have played against each other since Christmas Day 2018. According to ESPN Stats and Information, there have been 12 opportunities for them to face off.
With Durant out of the lineup, the team has had to lean on the play of Booker, who has averaged 32.0 points and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 56.5% from the field.