The 2021-22 NBA season has been quite atypical for teams like the Brooklyn Nets, especially for one of their stars, Kevin Durant, who has been the most affected by the high amount of minutes he has had to play in the face of the franchise’s absences.
Durant’s numbers at another time would only reaffirm him as one of the league’s best players, but currently they are troubling for both the small forward and the Nets.
KD averages 37.4 minutes per game, leading the entire league only behind the 37.5 minutes averaged by Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, and in his last games he played 42 minutes at Portland and 43 against San Antonio.
During his entire career, only in the 2013-14 season, the same one in which he was MVP, Durant averaged more minutes per game, 38.5, although at 33 years old and with possible sequels of a torn Achilles tendon, it is not easy to receive a load of minutes on the court as high as the one this team gives him.
KD accepts the challenge and asks to play
Brooklyn is the team most affected by injuries and the aftermath of the COVID-19, which has affected other stars such as James Harden and Kyrie Irving, but the two-time NBA champion accepts the challenge without hesitation.
“No! Let me die out there!” Durant jokingly said after the Portland loss about the minutes he has played in the current season.
“But no, I’m not concerned. Whenever coach wants to give me a day, I’ll support that. But I’m not looking for one. I’m just gonna play until they tell me I’m sitting out. But that’s not on my mind when I’m playing. That’s not on my mind when I’m preparing for a game. It is what it is. I gotta play 40, so what? If they tell me to sit out, I’m gonna do the same thing,” he added.
Nash struggles to rest Durant
Nets coach Steve Nash himself would like to rest Durant, even leave him out of one of the team’s upcoming games, but Brooklyn’s depleted roster and the team’s rescheduled games have not allowed it.
“It would be great to have Kevin play 32 minutes a night and keep him really fresh,” Nash said. “The reality is we’ll probably need him to play more. He wants to play more. And so we try to pick our spots in other ways. Miss a game here and there to make up for the higher minutes.”