Durant hurt his knee the other night during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Breaking: Kevin Durant has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL in his left knee, the Nets announced.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 16, 2022
On one hand, four-to-six weeks isn’t the end of the world because it will find Durant returning to the team before the playoffs, likely right around the All-Star break.
However, as the team battles for the number one spot in the East, every game counts, and the Nets – while a very good squad – have been battling against a lot of bad luck (and an unstoppable Chicago Bulls team) lately and this loss is the last thing they wanted.
Durant has been leading the Nets – and the league – with an average of 29.3 points a game, along with 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists.
There is no doubt that he’s a pivotal part of the team – Brooklyn will have to do something to fill the void that he leaves.
What will they do to combat the loss of Durant?
Harden Goes Hard
Statistically, James Harden isn’t as good a player as Durant.
However, in the weeks ahead he is going to have to try his best to be.
Durant is an offensive powerhouse, capable of landing shots from all over the court with speed and efficiency.
It’s never been as easy for Harden but he has been doing well lately, putting up an average of 22.7 points a game, with eight rebounds, and 10 assists.
So he’s close to Durant’s numbers but he’s going to have to carry an even heavier load with KD on the sidelines.
This is why the Nets landed Harden, this is what he’s supposedly made for.
He needs to flip the switch and turn on Playoff Mode early to keep Brooklyn alive while Durant is away.
If you’re talking about point production, Kyrie Irving is a great choice to help assist the Nets while Durant recovers.
He knew he was going to be a major part of all away games moving forward but now he’s going to perhaps be the biggest part of those games since Durant is gone.
Irving has been averaging 17.7 points a game in the three outings he’s had so far.
You can expect to see those numbers go up – way up.
Kyrie Irving has averaged 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 2 games this season. pic.twitter.com/3Z9NE1tfk2
— Key (@Keyriosxty1) January 15, 2022
The ball will be finding its way to Irving’s hand far more often now and that’s a good thing because he’s always been a reliable shooter.
A note of caution, however: in his first three games, his three-point percentage has been 30.8 percent and field goal percentage has been 45.8 percent – those are both drops from previous seasons.
And those 17.7 points are also a dip from his career average of 22.8.
The Nets need Irving in a big way – but they need the Irving of years’ past.
No one is as good as a shooter as Durant so the Nets will have to think of other ways to win games – such as creating an incredible defense.
Is Brooklyn’s defense bad?
No, no it’s not but it will need to be taken up a notch in the weeks ahead.
This isn’t because Durant was one of the best defenders in the league but rather because this is a great way to keep games close.
If the Nets don’t have their best point-maker, why not try to instead limit the amount of points competitors score?
This is a smart approach and a great way to keep Brooklyn alive and well as Durant gets better: minimize the strength of other teams since the best weapon in your arsenal is out of commission.