Brooklyn Nets: A Few Reasons Why Kevin Durant Will Defy The Odds Next Season
The Brooklyn Nets are in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, with a 30-34 record. On March 12, the NBA season was suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Before the 2019-20 season began, Kevin Durant chose not to return to the Golden State Warriors, instead choosing to bring his talents to Brooklyn. Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan followed his lead, signing with the Nets as well. In game five of the NBA Finals, Durant ruptured his achilles while still a member of the Warriors. As the rest of the season played out, fans and critics constantly debated if Durant would return to form.
Obviously, the list of professional basketball players to overcome an achilles tear or rupture is slim. However, Durant has the opportunity to be the next player to defy the odds. Despite all the critics, Durant will bounce back just fine because of his style of play. It also cannot be ignored that Durant is a generational player. Here are a few reasons why Durant will defy the odds and take his game to another level come next season:
Chess Not Checkers
First off, Durant always enters each season with improvements to his game. When he was drafted in 2007, he relied on his athleticism when he struggled with his shot. However, after his rookie year, he never shot lower than 35 percent from three. Over the past five years, Durant has worked on his handles, one-on-one moves, and his post-up game. Not to mention, the 31-year-old has become more strategic in how he approaches the game. Playing with Russell Westbrook from 2008 to 2016 has helped Durant grow in many areas, but also restricted him in some.
While playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durant and Westbrook were able to rely on each other’s athletic ability and speed. However, Durant did not have the luxury of the extra firepower (outside of Westbrook) as well as the coaching that came along with the Golden State Warriors. Similar to LeBron James, fans often take Durant’s skill for granted. He can shoot over the smaller defender, post up, and handle the ball. He has limitless range and limitless scoring potential, virtually able to get his shot off from anywhere on the floor. Though he can get to the rim with ease, the fact that Durant is a marksman will allow him to ease back into the game. At the end of the 2018-19 season, he shot 52.1 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from three.
Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving & Supporting Cast
In addition to his strategic approach to the game, Durant will sustain his level of play because of the current roster. According to Irving, the team needs to add another star to compete for a title.On the contrary, Irving could be wrong considering how much Durant impacts the game and demands so much attention from opposing teams’ defenses. There is an argument that the current roster is enough to compete in the playoffs and make it out of the Eastern Conference.
Besides Irving and Durant, the team features an upcoming star in Caris LeVert,as well as two defensive gurus in Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan. The team also includes Spencer Dinwiddie, who may be a sleeper star in his own right, the sharp shooting Joe Harris, and the versatile Wilson Chandler. Once Durant returns he will have a team that can ensure that he won’t be the only scoring option. Although Nets GM Sean Marks may be considering trading LeVert or Allen for a third star, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the team may want to give this roster one more season.
It’s Been Done Before
ESPN’s Max Kellerman has been consistent in saying that Durant won’t be the player he once was. He also argues that recovery like this has never been done before by a marquee player. Yet, Kellerman may have overlooked a few players, including Chiney Ogwumike, Tamika Catchings, and Dominique Wilkins, who have all overcome this injury.
Ogwumike, returned to the WNBA in 2018 after sitting out the 2017 season. At the end of the 2018 season, she averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Ogwumike also shot a career-high 60 percent from the floor and was named an All-Star. Catchings’s journey was a little bit different as her stats decreased her first season back. Still, Catchings was able to bounce back and win MVP in 2011 and a championship in 2012. She also went on to win the 2012 Finals MVP.
Lastly, Wilkins is another example of the possibility of overcoming this injury. Yes, Wilkins suffered the injury at the age of 21, but his game was centered around his athleticism. For a 21-year-old to suffer this injury with all the expectations around him had to be a huge mental weight to lift. His weight also didn’t make recovery an easy feat. Still, Wilkins returned, averaging 29.9 points in the 1992-1993 season and 26 points a game the season after. All of this is to say that Durant will not be the first example of player returning from an achilles injury. Moreover, though, these examples show that it is possible to overcome this injury and return to form.
Will this be a tough task for Durant to return right away? Sure, that is fair to say. Yet, the improvements in medicine and advancement in sneaker technology makes anything possible. Additionally, Durant will be returning to a complete team, hungry for victory. He can be the spark that leads the Nets to finals. Ruling out a healthy and full formed Durant is not something opposing teams should even consider. Brooklyn fans should expect Durant return to the game next season ready to play at a high level.
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