The most worst kept secret in the NBA spectrum came to fruition on July 1st when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving officially signed for the Brooklyn Nets. Unfortunately for KD, just weeks before, he tried to return from injury and save the Golden State Warriors from certain defeat in game 5 of the NBA Finals. KD ended up shooting three for three from the 3-point line, looking set to lead the Warriors to an inspiring victory. Until disaster struck. Durant went down with what turned out to be a torn Achilles. An absolute death knell for an NBA player’s career. Or is it?
Typically, the timeline for a recovery for an Achilles injury is about nine months. When averaging the days between returns of notable players’ recent injuries, i.e. Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant, Wesley Matthews, Rudy Gay, and Demarcus Cousins, the average timeline is 280 days between games. This would see the newly minted number seven suit up for game action on March 19, 2020. Or for about the last 12 games in the regular season.
One of the more interesting storylines to watch for bettors will be following the injury progress of the “Easy Money Sniper”. Kobe, unfortunately, never returned to pre-injury form. The “Black Mamba” though, was already 35 at the time. The story is similar for Billups, who was also 35, and was never the same player again post-injury. The former Finals MVP played in just 41 more games before retiring in 2014. While he was once one of the most dangerous two-way players in the game, Matthews has shot around or below 40% since his return in 2015.
Gregg Popovich has seemingly managed to unlock the very best from Gay in San Antonio. Yet, he has noticeably lost a step, and is not the same explosive and impactful player. The jury is still out on Boogie Cousins, but the early signs from last year’s playoffs are prosperous. It remains to be seen what impact he can have in Los Angeles this year. Durant is only 30, and his game has never been overly reliant on athleticism. Even with Kevin Durant at 80% this Nets team, at least on paper, is more than capable of going on a deep playoff run.
KD isn’t even listed on the odds for next year’s NBA MVP. With good reason. The “Slim Reaper” will remain out of the lineup until at least late March, and even then is a longshot to return to the playoffs at 100%. If and when he does, the Nets will be as dangerous a team as any. Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, the up and coming Taurean Prince, and Caris Levert will easily lead the team to the playoffs.
Betting on Kevin Durant to return and lead the Net’s to victory may be a shot in the dark. However, with the Net’s 2019 NBA Championship odds currently sitting at +2300, it may be worth it. Realistically, the Nets now boast two of the top five players in the Eastern Conference. They have an intriguing balance of experienced vets with DeAndre Jordan, Durant, and Irving while also boasting an interesting blend of young up and coming talent. The NBA world will have forgotten how good Durant is by next year’s playoffs, but your betting slip shouldn’t. KD is fully capable of coming back and leading this Nets squad to New York’s first basketball championship since 1976.