When Kevin Durant tore his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals, we knew that when he came back he would have to make some adjustments to his game. KD has long been regarded as not only one of the best small forwards in the game today, but possibly one of the greatest of all time. As good as Durant has been at the three, his days of playing small forward full time could be in the past. During a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Durant told the media that he envisions himself playing minutes at center in the Nets small ball lineups this season.
KD Adds A New Wrinkle To His Game
“I think Coach is going to use me in a variety of ways, especially as a small-ball 5 and 4 sometimes,” Durant said. “And bringing the ball up, too, so I’ve just got to be ready for anything.” The Nets are already thin at the center position as sophomore big man Nic Claxton had surgery last week to correct a right knee tendinopathy with no timetable for his return. This makes Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan the only active traditional centers on the Nets roster.
Kevin Durant says he expects to spend time playing at the four and the five. He said he doesn’t have a set number of minutes in mind to play in pre-season games, but he hopes to get a feel for what sort of load his body can take coming off the Achilles injury.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) December 9, 2020
The Nets Roster Runs 10-Deep
While the Nets options at center are scarce they still have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league. Caris LeVert put the NBA on notice as he shined with his play for the Nets in the Orlando bubble. Brooklyn also was able to retain lethal sharpshooter Joe Harris on a 4-year/$75 million deal this offseason. They are also bringing back veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie who has been a consistent 20 ppg scorer over the last few seasons. You put all of this together with KD and Kyrie and you have the makings of a serious contender in the east.
Caris LeVert in the bubble (6 games):
• 25 points
• 6.7 assists
• 5 rebounds
• 48% FG pic.twitter.com/jYaAaVu0wp
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) August 14, 2020
Can KD At Center Work?
How will Durant fair at center? The two-time Finals MVP is 6’11 with a wingspan of more than seven feet, so length won’t be an issue as much as the size. KD will have his hands full starting opening night, when the Nets face his former team, the Warriors and their lottery pick, seven-footer James Wiseman out of Memphis.
Although many have picked KD and the Nets to represent the east in the 2021 Finals, getting there will be no easy task. The Eastern Conference looks to be extremely competitive as teams like the Heat and Bucks are looking to avenge themselves from bitter eliminations in last year’s bubble. Kevin Durant already has quite a versatile skillset. With him adding playing center to his offensive repertoire, it will be interesting to see how the other contenders will be able to adjust.