2: Kevin Durant
As we mentioned, Durant’s been out for the past 12 games and the Nets are 2-10 without him. Before he got hurt, KD was averaging 29.3 points and was shooting 52% from the field and 37.2% from the 3-point line.
He was in the middle of one of the best seasons of his 14-year career and given the player that Durant is, that says a lot. Even without Irving, KD and Harden made sure that Brooklyn was consistently in or around the top spot in the conference.
If Harden is indeed annoyed with the workload that he’s had to take on due to Irving’s part-time status, it won’t be long until KD returns. Harden’s game benefitted once Irving came back but that duo’s been limited to road games because of Irving’s vaccination status. If Irving was eligible to play in games at Barclays Center, would Harden still be unsatisfied with his current situation?
That’s why Durant’s return is crucial. KD’s presence will not only boost morale but will help remind Harden why he wanted to be traded to the Nets in the first place. If Irving continues to only play away games for the rest of the year, a healthy Durant-Harden is still enough to make the deep playoff run that Brooklyn is hoping for.