After almost a two-year absence Kevin Durant is back and he’s taking his rightful place as the best player on the planet.
No one forgot about Kevin Durant during his 18-month absence from the NBA. It’s impossible to forget about one of the greatest players of all time but it was fair to wonder about how he would return from an Achilles injury on the wrong side of 30.
Durant is answering all of those questions with flying colors. Once again, he is the best player on the planet and there is nothing anyone else can do about it.
The Brooklyn Nets obliterated the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 on the back of a ridiculous performance by Durant. After the win, the superstar was asked if he ever believed he could return to this level. It was never in doubt for the best player in the world.
'Is that a real question?"
KD wasn't having it 😂 pic.twitter.com/136IYr0JDO
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 8, 2021
Even Giannis Antetokounmpo has no answer for KD, who dropped 32 points and six assists on 12-for-18 shooting in Brooklyn’s Game 2 blowout of Milwaukee.
In case you forgot, Antetokoumpo is the two-time reigning MVP and reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He has had absolutely no chance at all in one-on-one situations against Durant. It’s not fair.
Kevin Durant is on a different level pic.twitter.com/W4dYeUjZpN
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) June 8, 2021
Durant slices through five good-to-great defenders all by himself. There’s no need to kick it out when you have a ridiculous reverse finish in your bag.
Durant is upping his game at the most crucial point in the season. Not only is it the playoffs, but the Nets are going to be without James Harden for who knows how long after he recently tweaked his touchy right hamstring.
Despite playing alongside two scoring superstars, Durant is leading the playoffs in scoring with 32.0 per game. Better yet, he’s doing it on absurd 55/50/91 shooting splits.
But he’s impacting the game in more ways than just scoring. His passing, rebounding, and defense have provided the Nets with a lift on both ends. In fact, Durant is probably the biggest reason for Brooklyn’s defensive improvement from the regular season to the playoffs.
Counting stats rarely tell the full story defensively, but he’s averaging 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Not to mention, he’s looked comfortable defending traditional centers while Blake Griffin matches up with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Durant’s all-around game is propelling Brooklyn to six wins in seven games.
What players are still playing in the playoffs that can compare to Durant? Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Jokic are a few names that come to mind.
Sure, Giannis might be a two-time MVP, but he’s got no answers for Durant in this series. Durant isn’t worrying too much about this debate, but through two games he has a massive edge over Antetokounmpo.
As for Embiid and Jokic, both big men have had to shoulder a heavy burden during the regular season. They need to be at their best night in and night out for their teams to win. Durant, on the other hand, has been able to cruise through the regular season without breaking much of a sweat.
We saw Durant take his game to another level once the playoffs started and one more level since Harden’s injury. Even if he’s not operating in high gear at all times, that offensive assassin who won two NBA Finals MVPs is still in there.
Kawhi Leonard is the closest comparison for Durant left in these playoffs. Much like Durant, Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP and they could wind up meeting in the NBA Finals this year.
Leonard’s suffocating defense and elite mid-range shotmaking would be the biggest test Durant faces all year long.