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NYU orthopedist on Kevin Durant: ‘He should do fine’

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Brian Lewis spoke this week with one of New York’s top orthopedists and Dr. Laith Jazrawi, chief of the division of sports medicine at NYU Langone Sports Health, thinks Kevin Durant is likely to “do just fine” when he returns from his Achilles injury.

“He’s not an old guy, 36, 37 towards the end of his career,” said Dr. Jazrawi. “I don’t think it’s like that in him. He’ll do just fine. I don’t see any issue to say he won’t be as good of a player as he was a year-and-a-half ago.”

Of course, doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery, where KD underwent the knife back in June 2019. can’t talk about the surgery, but Lewis drew on Dr. Jazrawi’s expertise ... and other data to provide an optimistic picture of Durant’ recovery.

While there’s been a lot of punditry about how other NBA players have done, Lewis noted that he’s younger than most of those who’ve gone down with Achilles ruptures. He was six years younger than Patrick Ewing (36), five years younger than Isiah Thomas (35) and foru years younger than Kobe Bryant (34) whose careers were either ended or cut short by the injury.

“That’s better for him, so I don’t see anything holding him back,” Jazrawi told Lewis. “The only thing is he hasn’t played for a year-and-a-half, so it’ll take time to get back into the rhythm. Some people are going to say ‘Oh, it’s because he had his Achilles [injury.]’ That’s not true. It’s that when anyone doesn’t play for a year-and-a-half, it’s just going to take time to get back into the flow. But he should do fine.”

Lewis also cited a 2019 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine that looked at the drop-off among players who experienced the same injury.

The study ... tracked 44 NBA players with Achilles ruptures from 1970 to 2018, and discovered their player efficiency rating dipped by an average of 2.9. Durant’s 25.2 career PER is eighth-best all-time, and a 22.3 would still have placed him 33rd (essentially Kyrie Irving). In short, from all-time great to an All-Star.

Moreover, Lewis quoted an interview Durant gave to Breanna Stewart, the WNBA star who lost last season to an Achilles injury then came back to win a title with the Seattle Storm.

On “Stewie’s World” podcast, Durant said he’ll go into the season with even more love for the game.

“I just appreciate being in the gym. I appreciate the workouts and the one-on-one sessions and just being in there with the other guys, just the whole routine,” Durant said. “I just have a newfound evolved level of joy for it.”

“I feel like I’m growing every day I feel I’m having a kid-like joy every time I step on that court. That’s all I really wanted to have, to continue to have,” he told the WNBA star’s podcast. “I didn’t want to lose the love for the game because of an injury. It this point now, I just enjoy waking up and getting to the gym every day.”