On Sunday, Jan. 16, the Brooklyn Nets announced that an MRI revealed a sprained MCL in Kevin Durant’s left knee.
In line with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “there’s optimism” inside the Nets group that there will probably be a four-to-six-week timeline for Durant’s rehab and eventual return to motion.
It ought to go with out saying that the Nets will probably be significantly impacted by the absence of Durant, who’s averaging a league-leading 29.3 factors to go together with 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per recreation. Durant’s standing as among the finest gamers within the NBA means his absence will probably be felt throughout the league.
Brooklyn is scheduled to play 17 video games forward of the All-Star Break, which Wojnarowski reports is a “reasonable benchmark” for Durant’s return. With an MVP candidate set to overlook at the least a month of motion, there could possibly be a league-wide ripple impact.
The ripple impact of Kevin Durant’s absence
Let’s begin with the apparent.
Durant has been the main pressure for Brooklyn this season, together with his scoring common at its highest since his MVP season of 2013-14. As such, KD has vaulted himself atop MVP conversations due to his impression on a nightly foundation.
After battling accidents in the course of the 2020-21 season, Durant had missed simply six of the Nets’ first 42 video games earlier than taking place with a knee harm. Brooklyn is 3-3 in Durant’s absence.
To take a extra centered look, the Nets have had a internet ranking of 4.5 with Durant on the ground this season, whereas their internet ranking with Durant off the ground is -0.9, according to NBA.com Stats. As a result of context issues, a big chunk of these numbers have been earlier than Kyrie Irving was permitted to re-join the Nets on a part-time foundation.
Within the three street video games since Irving’s return, Brooklyn’s internet ranking in 31 non-Durant minutes is 10.6, barely higher than the web ranking of 8.9 within the 113 minutes that Durant has performed. The quantity is admittedly impacted by the Nets’ rout of the Bulls through which a lot of reserves stepped up.
That stated, it is necessary to notice that 12 of the Nets’ subsequent 17 video games are on the street and Irving is eligible in all however one, a go to to the Knicks. With Irving and James Harden out there to play in about two-thirds of the video games in Durant’s absence, the 2 can have loads of alternatives to compensate.
Japanese Convention Playoff image
On the time of Durant’s harm, the Nets trailed the Bulls by a half-game for first place within the East standings. Conversely, the Nets maintain only a two-game lead over the sixth-placed Cavaliers.
Ought to the Nets battle in Durant’s prolonged absence, the Japanese Convention Playoff image may look vastly totally different with round 20 video games remaining within the common season.
With respect to Irving’s availability, the Nets may benefit from falling to fifth or sixth within the East, given they’d not have residence courtroom benefit and Irving can be out there for 4 video games of a possible seven-game collection, quite than three video games in a collection through which they have been the highest seed.
The tightly-contested race among the many East’s top-six groups will definitely be impacted by Durant’s absence. It is merely a matter of how a lot it is going to be impacted.
It isn’t as necessary within the grand scheme of issues, however Durant gave the impression to be on his strategy to changing into the East’s main vote-getter for a second consecutive yr.
Per the timeline offered by Wojnarowski, Durant shouldn’t be anticipated to take part within the 2022 NBA All-Star Sport, however what if he receives extra votes than anybody else? Durant was in an identical place final yr, as an harm precipitated him to overlook the 2021 NBA All-Star Sport because the main vote-getter.
Durant served as a captain within the All-Star Draft however was changed within the beginning lineup by Celtics ahead Jayson Tatum and Pacers ahead Domantas Sabonis was added to the sport as an harm substitute.
As a result of Durant’s harm, a participant like Sabonis, Hornets ahead Miles Bridges or Raptors ahead Pascal Siakam may obtain All-Star consideration as an harm substitute, which might be fairly the glory for every of the aforementioned gamers.
The MVP race
In TSN’s most recent MVP ladder, Durant got here in at second behind two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
With Durant’s current harm, he can have totaled at the least 20 absences by the season’s finish, which can possible rule him out of MVP consideration. Because of this, MVP candidates resembling Bulls ahead DeMar DeRozan, Nuggets middle Nikola Jokic and 76ers middle Joel Embiid will transfer up in MVP talks.
The race will not be as enjoyable with out KD, nevertheless it ought to nonetheless be simply as intriguing with potential first-timers in DeRozan and Embiid in addition to a possible back-to-back award winner in Jokic.