Every sport has them. The superstar athlete that makes the game look like it's played in slow-motion. Like everything is coming with an absurd amount of ease.
Kevin Durant is that player in the NBA.
The Brooklyn Nets superstar continued his remarkable season against the Indiana Pacers, exploding for 42 points on a ridiculously efficient 16-for-24 shooting. Oh yeah, he also added in 10 assists for good measure.
The scoring binge was an equal season-high for the 32-year-old, coming in just his third game back from a thigh issue that saw him miss three straight games. Of course, that absence came after Durant returned for just five appearances after missing over two months with a hamstring injury.
"I think Kevin's shown that his scoring doesn't seem to get affected by a long layoff whether it was coming off the Achilles or coming off the hamstring," Head coach Steve Nash said after his return game against Phoenix earlier this week. "It seems to come right back, his rhythm and timing are excellent. So, yeah, I mean, it's very impressive, for sure."
Truth be told, it feels like health is the only thing capable of slowing down the former MVP, with those injuries combining with body management to hold him to just 27 games out of a possible 63, right on the back of missing the entire 2019-20 season after tearing his achilles in June of 2019 during the NBA Finals.
42 points | 10 assists- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 30, 2021
📼 KD HIGHLIGHTS 📼 pic.twitter.com/XVbv9q2pVL
While it would be reasonable to carry a level of concern over his abilty to stay on the floor for what the Nets are hoping will be a long playoff run, it may be best to simply marvel at what he has been able to do when he is on the floor.
Usually, extended absences create rust. Not for KD. Rust doesn't seem to apply to his offensive mastery, with his combination of deadly outside shooting and ability to put the ball on the floor rendering opposition defences useless.
Across the 27 games, Durant has failed to top 20 points on just four occassions, with three of those coming on nights where he saw fewer than 20 minutes of court time. His field goal percentage of 54.7 percent is a career-high. As are his 3-point percentage of 47.1 and true shooting percentage of 67.1.
Morphing into an unstoppable force (via NBA.com)
|On Court (881 mins)||122.2||110.7||11.5|
|Off Court (2168 mins)||114.4||113.3||1.1|
With Durant on the floor the Nets offence has been virtually unstoppable, while he also doubles as arguably the best defensive player on the roster, with the Nets efficiency on that end of the floor also improving by 2.6 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court.
According to Cleaning the Glass, for his position Durant ranks in the 94th percentile for scoring at the rim, the 95th percentile in the mid range and the 97th percentile from beyond the arc. He also gets fouled on 14.3 of his shot attempts which ranks in the 94th percentile. What exactly are you supposed to do with this guy?
The easy answer is to send two players in his direction on every touch. The bad news is that his assist percentage of 23.1 also ranks in the 96th percentile. It's certainly arguable that he is the perfect offensive player.
"What can I say? I've got the luxury of coaching Kevin Durant. I can just stick him in the game and good things happen," Nash said after the game against Indiana.
That's been generally the case with Durant this year.
Overall, the big three of Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have played just seven games and 186 minutes together this season. While that would normally be of some concern, as long as KD stays on the floor chemistry feels like a non-issue. Through all the unavailability of their best players, Brooklyn sit pretty at the top of the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games clear of the Philadelphia 76ers in second with just nine games left in the regular season.
What lies ahead is unknown, with the injury bug biting across the league to leave us on the doorstop of what could be one of the most unpredictable postseasons in recent memory. For now at least, let's enjoy the individual brilliance that is Kevin Durant and ask ourselves the question: Is health the only thing that can stop him collecting a third ring?
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