Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant has recently been diagnosed with a sprained MCL and is out for an indefinite period. His unavailability for the foreseeable future has drawn many reactions from pundits and fans alike.
The entire dynamic of the Nets season has changed with this announcement, as things will undoubtedly get harder for them moving forward. While many would like to blame the injury on the large number of minutes he logged this season, it was purely accidental. As Bruce Brown bumped into him while trying to defend the New Orleans Pelicans' Herbert Jones in transition midway through the second quarter.
With many expressing their disappointment with the development, the founder of The Ringer, Bill Simmons, took to Twitter to give his take on how Kevin Durant's absence will affect the Nets and his chances at winning the MVP award.
"Such a bummer. That was a vintage KD season with a huge minutes load, now he’s out 4-8 weeks (who knows?). Most indispensable day-to-day NBA star this year other than maybe Jokic. Hard to imagine Nets staying in top-3 in East. MVP race wide-wide-wide-wide-open."
Although Kevin Durant has dropped from the top spot in the MVP leaderboard in the past few weeks, he still has a decent shot of winning the award despite being ranked No. 3. Unfortunately, missing an extended period of game time will not help his case.
Durant's influence on the team in helping them win every other night is unmatched, making him one of the most indispensable stars in the league, as rightly pointed out by Simmons. Nonetheless, the Nets have a fighting chance with Kyrie Irving back in the lineup.
Can the Brooklyn Nets remain in the top three without Kevin Durant?
The Nets have the quality of players that can help them remain competitive in Durant's absence. But they have not been as entirely dependable as many had hoped.
James Harden has struggled for the better part of the season but will have to step up if the team is to remain in the top three of the Eastern Conference standings. Kyrie's return could not have been timed better, as the Nets have another superstar to help their cause.
Kyrie, although a part-time player, is allowed to play road games. This will be a significant boost for the Nets during this tough period. Luckily, 11 of their next 17 fixtures will be on the road, which means they stand a good chance of winning those games with Kyrie combining with Harden.
There has been chatter in the NBA community suggesting Kyrie could play home games if the Nets are willing to pay a small fine. Perhaps that would be an opportunity the organization would have jumped at given their current predicament. But ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has cleared the air on the subject, saying that teams have to comply with local laws.
Kevin Durant was having an astounding season so far, leading the league in scoring with 29.3 points per game. Sadly, a projected four-week absence will give the opportunity for players like LeBron James (28.9) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.5) to surpass him.