Sunday’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Washington Wizards was just a preseason game, but for Kevin Durant, it was almost like a NBA Finals. After all, Durant hadn’t stepped on an NBA court for game action in a year and a half. His last action was in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, which ended in a torn Achilles tendon.
The devastating injury forced Durant to miss the entire 2019-2020 season. The Brooklyn Nets were willing to pay the big salary and knew the extent of the injury when signing Durant, which was worth the price to get a man who is averaging 27 points per game for his career. Ultimately, the Nets are hopeful that the tandem of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who also missed much of last season due to injuries, can put them into contention for an NBA championship. Kevin Durant didn’t take long to show that he was recovered from his injury. He flew down the lane to dunk the ball for the first points of the Nets’ preseason.
All told, Durant played a total of 24 minutes and scored 15 points on 5-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. He was active all over the court, adding three rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots. Kyrie Irving added 18, as the two whom the Brooklyn Nets are counting on this season led the Nets in scoring in a five-point victory. After a three-year period from 2015-2018, the Nets were dreadful, winning an average of only 23 games per season. They improved enough over the past two seasons to near the .500 mark and earn a lower seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Durant clearly adds a big missing piece, a dominant superstar to team with Irving to provide a power duo that is present in most championship teams.
It’s unrealistic to expect a jump from 7th seed to a top two seed in one season, even with Kevin Durant. However, a run at a top four and home court advantage in the first round is not out of the question. The Nets should make some noise and advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013-2014.