Brooklyn Nets: Theory backing how Kevin Durant will return to form

Kevin Durant Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

We don’t have an exact date as to when Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets will return, we also don’t really know if he’ll play at the same level he was at pre-injury; but we can use historical examples to help back our theories.

Brooklyn Nets’ recently-acquired megastar, Kevin Durant, suffered what has been too many before him a career-altering or even career-ending injury: A ruptured Achilles tendon. However, and according to this well-articulated theory, there is a silver lining in what is a horrific injury.

There have been plenty of examples throughout basketball lore of an injury of this magnitude derailing NBA careers; but, a vast majority of those players were right-handed and injured their left ankle. Why that’s significant is because as a righty, you use your left foot to plant down when elevating for a jumper or using it to get a step on their defender on dribble-drive penetrations.

Kevin Durant is right-handed and injured his right Achilles tendon.

The best example of a player in basketball lore that was an All-NBA level talent and got this injury and came back the following year not only the same player he was before the injury but arguably better, is the “Human Highlight Reel”, Dominique Wilkins.

Nique wasn’t given that nickname for his fundamentally sound offense, no, his game predicated heavily on athleticism. He was explosive, he had no issue beating you off the dribble and finishing through contact with unparalleled force; he was an athletic freak of nature.

He had other means of his offense—he wasn’t solely a dunker—but he also acknowledged he had to reform his game after his ruptured Achilles tendon. According to Mark Medina of, here’s what Wilkins had to say when posed the question of how he changed his offense following the injury.

Q: When you came back, your statistical output was pretty good. I think you two All-Star appearances after that and you obviously played well before retiring. But did you feel your game being any different?

"It was different in this way. I learned how to play the game on the ground more than in the air. What I mean by that is I learned to become even more fundamentally strong. When I was shooting and stuff like that, it made me appreciate the little things more. Back to the basket moves. Jump hooks. Fadeaways. Bank shots. All that kind of stuff made me appreciate that stuff more. When it got to the point where I needed to play above the rim, I could do that. It made me appreciate playing on the ground more."

The injury occurred when Wilkins was 32-years-old and in his 10th season in the NBA, Durant was 30-years-old and in his 12th season in the NBA; both players are obviously physically gifted and they endured the same injury (right-handed, right raptured Achilles tendon) so the similarities are more than there.

Nique came back in the 1992-93 season and had one of, if not the most, productive season of his career.

Per Game Table

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Generated 7/31/2019.

His true shooting percentage of 57.0 percent that season was a career-high, he also made a career-high in three-point field goals (120), which was good for 8th in the NBA that season; he was not only back to his all-star form from the season prior, but in many ways was a more polished offensive player.

He himself stated that he had to play more on the ground than in the air, he made altercations to how he went about his offense, back to the basket moves, fadeaways, hook shots, spot-up jumpers, etc.

The thing is—and how this relates back to Durant—KD already has all those moves in his arsenal. Is he an athletic monstrosity with his height and length? Yeah. Does he utilize that to finish around the rim with ease? Of course, but there are no shortages of means to this man’s offense; he can score every which way he wants too.

As evident by his shooting splits from a variety of distances from a season ago:

Shooting Table

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Want more proof of Durant’s scoring ability? He possesses one of the most effective mid-range jumpers in the NBA. A shot perceived by many as useless, due to advanced analytics, but it’s still very much so nice to have—especially come playoff time.

His pull-up jumper is amongst the most unguardable signature moves in NBA history. Last year he shot 46.7 on 8.8 FGA in pull-up situations—which was good for the highest percentage in the NBA with players that attempted more than 4 pull-up field goals.

Durant also averaged 1.04 points per possession (2.5 possessions per game) in post up scenarios from a season ago, ranking in the 78th percentile in that regard. Moreover, as the primary ball-handler in pick and roll situations, Durant registered 0.98 points per possession, good for ranking in the 85th percentile.

He’ll be able to use his non-affected left ankle to gain the first step and accelerate when driving the ball once he returns without issue, last year he drove the ball 7.5 times per game and shot 53.6 percent in those instances.

Overall, KD has a bevy of avenues in which to initiate his offense. If this theory rings true, he should be able to return to the player we knew as one of the best in the entire league.

With his work ethic and overall love for the game of basketball, KD will go above and beyond in his rehabilitation to get back on the court and play at the level he knows he’s more than capable of. Having injured his right ankle, and not his left, the prospect of this happening is even higher.

Next. Where do the Nets stand with Kyrie?. dark

He’s one of the greatest scorers the league has ever known, he’ll be able to plant with the foot that sees frequent usage still, he’s going to be okay.