When Brooklyn Nets Forward Kevin Durant went down with a torn Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals, it left a lot of uncertainty in the minds of hoops fans. “Will KD ever be the same player again?” was the question that loomed in the minds of most. After all, Hall of Famers Isaiah Thomas and Kobe Bryant never quite returned to the superstar level that fans were accustomed to seeing when they suffered the same injury. Five games into the season and not only does Durant look like he’s back but he is quietly starting his campaign trail for his second league MVP award.
Durant’s New Role
Kevin Durant, for most of his career, has been known primarily for being an elite scorer. Well, it appears that his three-year stint in Golden State to go along with the 18-month recovery is already paying dividends. In Brooklyn’s first few games Durant has looked like quite the playmaker. According to CBS Sports, in Wednesday’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks, Durant either led or tied for Brooklyn’s lead in assists (eight), secondary assists (13), and total passes (44) headlining a 145-point eruption for the Nets.
Durant’s playmaking skill although unusual isn’t brand new. During Durant’s time in Oklahoma City Russell Westbrook went down for 27-games and he became the Thunder’s primary ball-handler. According to CBS Sports, Durant went on to average 6.1 assists and 11.6 potential assists per game in that span, higher totals than he ever reached over a full season since potential assists started getting tracked. That was during the 2013-14 season, the year that Durant earned his first and only MVP Award. Durant’s role as a playmaker will be integral especially with the loss of star guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Making Durant’s Case For MVP
The NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award has a name that has caused controversy in the past and to some degree has become narrative-based. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne even openly admitted that she voted for LeBron over Giannis for last year’s MVP because she tends to be more of a “narrative-based voter.”
If that is the case what story would top Kevin Durant winning MVP this season? Set the scene. In 2019 Kevin Durant is on the cusp of certifying himself as the NBA’s best player and winning his third consecutive Finals MVP Award and then goes down with a career-threatening injury. It would be one of the greatest stories in the history of sports, especially if the Brooklyn Nets went on to win the championship.
Durant so far this season has been spectacular in the few games he has played. In the four games, he has played the Nets have a 3-1 record in which he has averaged 28 points, 6 rebounds, and four assists. According to Draft Kings, Durant opened the season as a +1200 to win the NBA MVP, after last night’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks his MVP odds have climbed to a whopping +800. While it is still far too early to make any assumption for who will win the award, but KD’s recent play along with Brooklyn’s loss of Dinwiddie has Durant squarely in the driver’s seat.