The Phoenix Suns may have lost to the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night, but help is on the way.
Phoenix acquired 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant in a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets before the NBA’s trade deadline, setting up the Suns for a run at the NBA championship.
Deandre Ayton, who has spent his entire five-year career in Phoenix, said Thursday that Durant’s addition puts the Suns in prime position for a championship.
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“Damn right,” Ayton said when asked if he felt the pieces were now in place for the Suns to win a title this year, according to ESPN. “You damn right. That’s how I feel. Where we’re at, especially at the start of the season, we lost a few games and we seen what it’s like.
“I think we got punched in the face so many times where we’ve adapted and accepted to where, we’ve accepted adversity, it helped build confidence to where we’ve been in situations where a team threw everything at us to stop us even though we didn’t have the right pieces on the court … knowing what these teams can throw at us, we’re ready for it man, and it’s going to be real fun because it’s so many pieces, golly. It’s trouble, and it’s fun because it’s about time. We got the firepower for real, and you can feel it.”
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The Suns have remained in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference for most of the 2022 NBA season, falling to 30-27 with a 116-107 loss to the Hawks.
After going 64-18 in 2021-22, injuries and age have caught up with Phoenix, who required a “jolt” in order to make a run at the organization’s first championship.
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“I think it’s more than a lift. I think it’s a jolt if that makes sense,.” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “Just because of not just who he is as a player, but because of his love of the game. I think the guys are going to see something they may not have seen before. As far as his approach and how much he just loves to play basketball.”
Durant has not played since Jan. 8 after suffering an MCL sprain, but there is optimism he will return after the NBA’s All-Star break.