The two-time Finals MVP has suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises, but Durant has perhaps been an anomaly among superstars returning from injury, specifically his Achilles tear. According to an article by FiveThirtyEight.com, players are rarely the same after an Achilles injury, as almost every player experiences a drop in their total efficiency ratings. Stars like Kobe Bryant, Rudy Gay, and Chiney Ogwumike all understandably declined in production.
Yet Durant’s comeback is nothing short of remarkable, and his return to form has come just in time for the playoffs. With the recent injuries of their two backcourt playmakers in Harden and Irving, the Nets, who led the NBA in offensive efficiency in the regular season, suddenly require the 6-foot-10 scoring machine that is Kevin Durant now more than ever.
Here’s a comprehensive look at Durant’s injury history to date.
Kevin Durant injury history
And breathe. Fingers crossed and wood knocked, Kevin Durant is currently showing no indications of injury and will hopefully be healthy for the remainder of the postseason. He has been averaging 31.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in the 2021 playoffs and is making an early case for himself as potential Finals MVP. Of course, the Nets will have to make it there first, and while Durant looks to be back to his old easy money sniping ways, he’s had a decorated history of injuries in his 13-year career.
Kevin Durant thigh contusion, 2021
Last April, Kevin Durant suffered a left thigh contusion in the first half against the Miami Heat and did not return, with the Nets exercising extra caution to look after their once-injury ridden star. Durant made contact with winger Trevor Ariza while driving to the rim and was in visible pain as he walked off the court.
Luckily, the injury shelved Durant for just three games. That was viewed as a huge sigh of relief amongst fans because the four-time scoring champ had just returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring strain.
Speaking of which …
Kevin Durant hamstring injury, 2021
In February, Durant suffered a nagging hamstring injury that didn’t seem worrisome at first. Little did fans — and the organization, really — know that it would result in a multi-month absence for the face of the franchise.
In fact, the two-time finals MVP wound up missing more than half of Brooklyn’s regular-season schedule (72 games) with the injury. Perhaps Durant’s prolonged recovery came as a result of his Achilles operation, as soft-tissue injuries are a prevalent issue amongst athletes who previously underwent major surgeries.
At the time of his injury, Durant was averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from three-point range.
Amazingly enough, the Nets didn’t skip a beat without Durant last season, boasting a 25-12 record in the 37 games he missed, due in large part to the MVP-caliber play of James Harden.
Kevin Durant Achilles injury, 2019
In 2019, Golden State’s then-superteam composed of Durant, Curry, and Thompson was aiming to win its third ring in a row. In the second round of playoffs against the Houston Rockets, Durant suffered a calf injury that took him out for nine games. He would return in the Finals against the Toronto Raptors, but that game is one that will live in infamy: Durant tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 and eventually underwent surgery.
Rewatching Durant in that game would break anybody’s heart, but what hurts more is the long journey Durant would have to take to recover. A since-deleted Instagram picture of Durant in a hospital bed was captioned: “Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY. My road back starts now! I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way.”
An injury that all but spells the end of a player’s career didn’t end Durant’s, though. 552 days later, fresh off a contract with the Brooklyn Nets, Durant partnered with Irving to make his return memorable in a 119-114 win against the Washington Wizards in the first game of the Steve Nash Era.
Kevin Durant knee injury, 2016
In Durant’s first year with the Warriors, he sustained a Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise in his left knee after teammate Zaza Pachulia fell into his knee. The injury looked like a season-ender at the time, but Durant missed just 19 games and went on to win the 2017 Finals MVP award after averaging 35.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists with .556/.474/.927 shooting splits.
Kevin Durant foot fracture, 2014
Before his Achilles injury, NBA fans were deeply concerned about Durant’s foot and whether it would derail his career.
In October of 2014, literally right at the start of the season, it was determined that Durant needed surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. This marked the third operation in six months (!) on Durant’s right foot.
Though the first foot surgery couldn’t have gone better, increased soreness led Durant to undergo a second operation, a bone graft surgery, that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Prior to the 2014-2015 season, Durant was shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and embodied a pillar of consistency for the Thunder. Durant shook off some minor ankle sprains in the early years of his career, but it was this injury that really began the downward descent.
Now, though, KD has a chance to reclaim his throne as the last one standing.