After a 5-9 start to the season that saw Steve Nash fired and Kyrie Irving suspended, the Brooklyn Nets have risen from the depths of the NBA to legitimate contender status. The Nets have won 18 of their last 20 games, the best stretch in franchise history, and now hold the league’s second-best record. However, all of that nearly proved meaningless in the blink of an eye when Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury Sunday.

Nets fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was announced Durant is expected to miss less than a month with a less severe MCL sprain than the one he suffered last season. Now comes the age-old question: Can the Nets survive an extended stretch without their top player? The answer was a resounding no last season as Brooklyn went on an 11-game losing streak with Durant sidelined that culminated in James Harden requesting a trade at the February deadline.

However, things appear to be different this season. Kyrie Irving is playing full-time and the Nets boast a far deeper roster than last year. Irving has been among the association’s top guards since returning from an early season suspension and will lead the way without Durant. With that, here are three players that must step up alongside the All-Star guard to keep Brooklyn afloat:

3. T.J. Warren

Warren was viewed as one of the highest-upside signings of the offseason. Coming to Brooklyn on a minimum contract after missing the last two seasons with a stress fracture in his foot, it was unclear if the microwave-scoring forward could return to his old form. Warren has exceeded expectations in 19 appearances with the Nets.

The 29-year-old has provided a high-level scoring punch off the bench, averaging 10.0 points on 53.7 percent shooting in 19 appearances. Warren has a history as a high-level isolation scorer, averaging 19.3 points on 50.9 percent shooting over his last three seasons before coming to Brooklyn. That skill has come in handy thus far with the forward proving capable of punishing switches and offering a secondary creator late in the shot clock.

In addition to his ability to hunt mismatches, Warren shot 42.0 percent on catch-and-shoot threes over his last two seasons, something the Nets have taken advantage of by using him as a pick-and-pop option on screens for Irving and Durant.

Warren is averaging 11.3 points on 51.9 percent shooting over his last 11 games. The first-year Net came up huge in a Dec. 28 statement win over the Cavaliers, posting 23 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals on 9 of 14 shooting. Brooklyn will need Warren to build upon his recent play and provide a reliable source of offense in expanded minutes with Durant sidelined.

2. Seth Curry

Curry has come on strong to open the new year after seeing his minutes cut during December. The sharpshooter is averaging 15.0 points on 59.1 percent shooting from three during his last four appearances. Curry kept the Nets in the game during their loss at Chicago last week, scoring 22 points on 6 of 7 shooting from deep. He then stepped up in a big way after Durant exited in Miami, scoring nine of his 14 points in the final eight minutes to help Brooklyn mount a comeback.

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The 32-year-old has been hot and cold this season while returning from offseason ankle surgery. Curry played his best basketball during an eight-game stretch in November in which he averaged 15.1 points on 52.9 percent shooting from the field and 49.0 percent from three.

However, those numbers plummeted to 5.6 points on 36.1 percent shooting from the field and 30.6 percent from three as the guard saw his minutes reduced over his next 11 games.

Curry is looking like his normal self at just the right time with the Nets in need of floor spacing and shot creation with Durant out. At 43.9 percent from long range for his career heading into this season, Brooklyn will need Curry’s spacing to create advantages for Irving and Ben Simmons as ball-handlers. They’ll also need Curry to handle the ball himself as a secondary creator, something he did at a high level during his two seasons with Philadelphia.

At 6’2″, Curry presents a difficult defensive fit alongside Kyrie Irving, something that led to his minutes being cut during a portion of Brooklyn’s hot stretch. However, with their main source of offense absent, the Nets will have little choice other than to lean into the guard with the hope his offensive production outweighs the defensive downside.

1. Ben Simmons

With Durant and Irving exploding during the Nets’ extended hot stretch, Brooklyn hasn’t needed Simmons to score at a high level offensively as of late. The Aussie is averaging 7.5 points on 6.0 shots per game over his last 13 appearances, shifting his focus to impacting the game through his defense, rebounding, and facilitation in transition. That’s going to have to change with Durant sidelined.

Simmons had begun to resemble his old offensive self during a six-game stretch in November before being sidelined by a calf strain. The three-time All-Star averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists on 82.0 percent shooting during that span. Most importantly, he was taking 8.3 shots per game.

However, Simmons’ mindset has regressed to what he showed early in the season with Durant and Irving taking the reins offensively. Over his last seven games, the big man is averaging 5.3 points on just 5.3 shots per game. While the Nets are 6-1 during that span, they are going to need a far more assertive version of Simmons in the half-court offense to be successful without Durant.

Simmons has not shown his normal level of aggressiveness in the halfcourt for the majority of this season. The 26-year-old is averaging 3.2 drives per game this year after averaging 10.0 or more in each of his first four seasons. Further, there is a noticeable declining trend in Simmons’ aggressiveness as games have progressed this year. The first-year Net is averaging 1.1 points on just 0.6 shot attempts per game in 4th quarters this season.

Without Durant attracting frequent double teams, Simmons providing rim pressure and creating advantages for his teammates will be among Brooklyn’s top sources of offense. The former number-one pick has shown he can attack and produce at a high level offensively at points this season. The Nets will need Simmons to prioritize self-creation as they attempt to navigate Durant’s absence in the coming weeks.