When the Brooklyn Nets open their season at Barclays Center on December 22, it will be the first time in over 18 months that Kevin Durant will suit up for an NBA game. The last time we saw that KD on an NBA floor was when he returned to the Warriors starting lineup for game five of the 2019 NBA Finals. The basketball world rejoiced. KD suffered a calf strain during the 2019 conference semis against the Houston Rockets that sidelined him for over a month. Durant looked great in his return. Scoring 11 points on 3/5 shooting from the field including 3/3 from beyond the arc. Then the unimaginable happened, KD tore his Achilles.
The basketball world has waited anxiously on KD’s return since he went down last June. Questions have been raised as to if he can return to the same form of player that he was before the injury as torn Achilles have been career-ending injuries for players in the past. Neither Kobe Bryant nor Isaiah Thomas ever returned to superstar form even though they worked tirelessly to come back from the injury.
As tough as it is to return from an Achilles injury the word around the league has been that the Slim Reaper is back and in full effect. “You can tell he’s not afraid of creating contact and getting to whatever move he wants,” Nets Guard Chris Chiozza told media members on a Zoom conference call. “We weren’t sure how healthy he was and were trying to figure out the contact and how physical to be with him. Now you can tell he’s back. He’s creating the contact now. He’s doing what he wants to do. He’s looking like himself”.
When the Nets open their season against Durant’s former squad, the Golden State Warriors next Sunday, it will be a game of returns on both teams. Brooklyn’s all-star guard Kyrie Irving is also returning for the Nets after having season-ending shoulder surgery last March. Before the surgery, Kyrie was averaging 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists and had the Nets sitting in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
Two-Time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is returning to the floor after suffering a broken hand that sidelined him for most of the 2020 season and looking to reclaim his spot among the NBA’s elite. The Warriors are also bringing some new blood with them to Brooklyn. Warriors number two draft choice, big man James Wiseman out of Memphis will be making his NBA debut. Two-way player Kelly Oubre who the Warriors acquired from a trade with Oklahoma City is set to make his Warriors debut as well.
Next Sunday will be the first time former league MVPs Steph Curry and KD share the floor as opponents since game seven of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. There is mutual respect between the two opponents as they have won two championships together with Durant being the Finals MVP both times. The pressure is on for both KD and Curry. For KD, many are waiting to see if he can lead a team to an NBA title without the services of Curry. For Curry, it’s about how far he can take the Warriors without his long-time running mate Klay Thompson who is out for the season with a torn Achilles, the same injury Durant is returning from.
Brooklyn’s chase for a championship kicks off on Sunday as they face the Wizards for the first game of their preseason matchups.