Steve Nash teases clues about how Nets will manage Kevin Durant’s minutes
If you drafted Kevin Durant on your fantasy squad this season, or you happen to have tickets to a Brooklyn Nets game on the second night of a back-to-back, there’s some potentially exciting news. It sounds like the team is more comfortable this season playing KD on consecutive nights, something it was hesitant to do a season ago.
“Yeah I think we’re more comfortable playing [Durant] in [back-to-backs],” Steve Nash said. “You know he’s had more than enough time since the [Achilles injury suffered in 2019], since the return, he’s proven that he can handle that. Now do I want to pick some spots to be able to protect him this year? Of course. But its not as formulaic as perhaps last year was.”
The Kyrie Irving situation has been a challenge for this team in the early portion of the year, to say the least. Aside from its general distraction, Brooklyn is tasked with finding rotations which might fill Irving’s void. Nash has suggested the team is willing to lose a game here or there in order to find the best lineup combinations.
All of this would be even more difficult if the Nets had predetermined not to deploy Durant, their top gun, for both sides of back-t0-backs, which take an especially large toll on veteran legs.
“We definitely want to pick our spots and try to protect [our key players] at times,” Nash said. “But early here I think the signs are positive and hopefully we can create some sort of template where everyone feels confident that we’re gonna get through the season in a whole way.”
Durant is averaging 31 points, 9.8 rebounds and 5.8 dimes per game, living up to the hype that he is the world’s best player. While it does sound like Nash will opt to rest KD some games, it doesn’t sound like the team will maintain any hard-and-fast rules about when that will occur. Maybe Durant himself will have input on games he is active and games he opts for a well-earned veteran rest day.
Much has been made about James Harden not getting to the rim and shooting fewer foul shots this season (11.8 FTA his last full season with the Houston Rockets vs. 3.0 FTA through four games in Brooklyn this year) than last. It sounds like the real reason Harden is off to a slow start has more to do with an offseason spent rehabbing than new rule changes. Harden did appear in both games of the team’s first back-to-back. But if the plan is to ramp Harden up slowly, and Irving’s return is not on the horizon, the burden will fall on KD and others to step up.
Nash is trying to strike the appropriate balance between winning games, experimenting with lineups and managing both of his (available) star’s minutes. For the time being that will be a juggling act. But the good news is that it seems like KD has earned the benefit of the doubt he can play in a higher clip of game for the Nets this season than the last go-round.
KEVIN DURANT…Too easy.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 26, 2021
Should be fun to watch.