The Brooklyn Nets entered the 2022-2023 NBA season with high expectations. Kevin Durant was still playing at an all-time level. Kyrie Irving was going to be playing full time after the mismanaged season last year. Even Ben Simmons was expected to make an impact. All of that came crashing down when the season began.
Simmons struggled mightily out of the gates. Irving has been inconsistent offensively and has always been a defensive liability. That left Durant to carry the load, and carry it he did. He helped keep the Nets afloat until they got their feet under them.
This season, the NBA MVP conversation has mostly surrounded Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. But I am here to tell you that Durant belongs in that same discussion with those players.
Here are my 3 reasons why I believe Kevin Durant should be near the top of the NBA MVP chatter. Please keep in mind, I am a huge Celtics fan, so I take no pleasure in writing this.
3. Nets Resurgence led by Kevin Durant
At one point this season, the Nets were 9-11 and below the play-in line.
Over the last three weeks that has changed drastically. The Nets have been on a tear, led by Durant. They have won 11 of their last 12 games and climbed back into the race atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Nets are now 20-12, which is only 2.5 games behind the Bucks for the top overall seed in the conference.
Even though Simmons has been better, and Irving more consistent, there is no doubt that the play of Durant is the primary reason for the Nets ascension.
Considering how much of a laughing stock the Nets had been perceived to be, this turn of events is notable. Brooklyn can once again be considered legitimate contenders to reach the NBA Finals. That, of course, carried with it a lot of weight in the MVP discussion. You generally are not going to find players on irrelevant teams being considered.
2. KD is doing more with less
The key frontrunners in the race as I mentioned are Doncic, Tatum and Antetokounmpo. We have seen in recent years that ‘super teams’ are not what are winning titles. The best NBA teams are the teams that have depth, have solid wing defenders and players that can shoot.
The Celtics and Warriors are two perfect examples of this, last years finalists. The Bucks are an incredibly deep team and not coincidentally are right there with the Celtics atop the NBA standings.
Then there’s the Brooklyn Nets. That roster is littered with holes. They do not have any post presence or rim protector off the bench whatsoever. Outside of Joe Harris and Seth Curry, they don’t have anyone that can score. Even those guys aren’t the type of players that can create their own shot.
Defensively, the Nets have been mostly atrocious again this season. Yet, here they are, fighting for home court more than a third of the way into the season.
3. Durant on pace to make NBA history
Kevin Durant has been an unstoppable force for the Nets offense this season. He is actually having arguably the best year of his career, at age 34 no less. He is averaging 30.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. But beyond that, his efficiency is truly next level.
He is shooting 56.4 percent from the field this season. Those are numbers normally only reserved for centers and power forwards in the paint, not players that consistently shoot from the outside. If he continues on that pace, Durant will become the first player in NBA history to ever post those numbers and shoot over 50 percent from the field, according to Stat Muse.