One of the most anticipated storylines going into this season was the return of Kevin Durant.
Durant missed the entire 2019-2020 season after rupturing his right Achilles tendon during the 2018-19 NBA finals. He joined the Brooklyn Nets leaving the Golden State Warriors, where he won two championships back to back as the Finals MVP both times.
In 2019 he said: “I never looked at me switching teams as a new challenge, everyday I wake up I got to fight against the standard I set for myself.
“But I felt like it was time for a change. I wanted to play for a new team and simply put, I just did it.”
There was speculation on whether we would see him at his previous level after such a serious injury. However, the return of Kevin Durant did not disappoint.
On opening night we saw him play his former team and the Nets blew them out. He looked like he hadn’t missed a step and dropped 22 points and his teammate Kyrie Irving dropped 26.
Durant then stepped his game up on Christmas Day dropping 29 points against the Boston Celtics.
Kevin Durant’s return has been better than expected as he is averaging 30.5 points per game, which would be the second-highest in his career. Durant is also averaging 5.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds. Coming back from a ruptured Achilles Durant MVP caliber season so far is even more remarkable.
He is also currently shooting 44% from three, the highest he’s ever shot in his career. He’s also doing this whilst having a near career-high in attempted 3-pointers (6.6). He also is averaging more rebounds, the same amount of assists, and two fewer points than he did in his MVP season (2013-2014).
Durant is easily one of the best scorers in NBA history and continues to show why he is arguably the best basketball player in the world.
Does the return of Kevin Durant lead to a Championship for the Brooklyn Nets?
The storyline of the return of Kevin Durant being a success revolves around one thing. Winning the championship.
The major worry for the Nets is their defense. They added Norvel Pelle to their roster. Pelle is a competent shot blocker and may help the Nets protect the rim better. They have also been heavily linked with JaVale McGee, a big part of the Lakers being so great at protecting the rim last season.
To come out of the East the Nets’ defense is going to need to improve, and time will help that. One of they don’t need to worry about for sure is their offense.
The worry was never about how will Harden coming in affect Durant, but more his own game and Irving. Durant doesn’t need the ball as much as those two, and is effective playing off the ball.
When Irving and Harden have both played, Durant showed he can still put up his numbers. In their first game together against the Cavaliers, Durant dropped 38 points in the loss that saw Collin Sexton and his complete takeover during overtime. In their second game playing together, Durant dropped 31 points against the heat.
The addition of another ball-dominant player hasn’t affected Durant, but it does make the question of who will take the last shots and close the game more interesting. Irving and Durant are regarded as two of the most clutch players in the league. Harden is also used to taking and making big shots as the Houston Rockets revolved around him.
Before the season, Irving and Durant spoke on ‘The ETC’s with Kevin Durant’ podcast on who would take the last shot.
“Depends on who’s hot,” Irving said. Durant was asked if he would stand in the corner whilst Irving took control of the game in the clutch. He said: “Most definitely.”
Against the Atlanta Hawks, Durant didn’t take many shots down the stretch despite being the team’s best player. For the shot to win the game, Harden took it and missed sending the game to overtime. It will be interesting to see who takes the big shots more as the season goes on.
Kevin Durant’s return has been remarkable, and he now has expectations to deliver a championship to Brooklyn. He has been playing MVP level basketball, and with the Nets allowing him to rest certain games but also giving him plenty of minutes, it should be expected that Durant will keep this level up for the playoffs.
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