“They look like KD and Kyrie.” How many times have we heard that in his training camp? It is as a New York Daily News headline writer put it this morning, “That’s the song that every Nets player is singing during training camp.”
And not just at HSS Training Center either. Everyone from John Wall to Isaiah Thomas to Gilbert Arenas commented on how good Durant looked during workouts at The Academy in southern California. Thomas has even said Durant looked better!
The Nets have posted video of KD on their social media, minute-long hints of what we could see as early as Sunday.
In a story posted Friday, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated quoted an observer who watched KD in camp this way: “He didn’t look like Kevin Durant after an Achilles injury. He looked like Kevin Durant. He was all the way back.”
As Spencer Dinwiddie said earlier this week of both Nets superstars, “They look like KD and Kyrie. There’s a lot of optimism around this season ... deservedly so.”
There is indeed a chorus growing on 38th Street in Sunset City. Here’s a sampling of training camp quotes from KD’s head coach to his teammates.
“It’s good to see Kevin obviously come back from a tough injury like that but I think Kevin is right back where he was and I think everyone will see that,” said Caris LeVert. I’m excited for him. I’m excited for everyone to get him back because the game wasn’t the same without him so I know he’s super excited to get back and playing.”
His long-time friend, Jeff Green, says the same and says it’s inspiring.
“It definitely inspires [us] to see him back in the form before he got hurt,” Green told reporters. “He’s a guy that goes up there and leads by example. I believe in an interview he said he doesn’t do drills half-ass. He goes out there and he’s giving it all he has.
“When you have a guy of his talent, his stature in the NBA going out there and playing as hard as he is, it’s definitely inspiring. So I’m glad to see him back on the floor, and I’m glad I don’t have to guard him on a nightly basis during games because mostly in practice, it doesn’t get filmed. I’m happy to see my brother back out there.”
KD and Kyrie’s other long-time friend on the roster, DeAndre Jordan, spoke about the two’s performance not just at HSS but in Los Angeles.
“I think they looked like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving,” said Jordan. “I think they looked exactly like themselves. There’s no favoring or tiptoeing around things. Those guys are both going really hard, and it’s good to see. It’s good to see Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back on the court. I will say that.”
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Chris Chiozza, a two-way at the end of last season who was part of the “extra work group” that played 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 with KD in late February and early March, before the hiatus shut things down.
What’s the difference he was asked Thursday.
“Now you can tell he’s not afraid of creating contact and getting to whatever move he wants,” Chiozza said on the media Zoom conference call. “[With the] extra-work crew, he was still coming back and we weren’t sure how healthy he was and were trying to figure out the contact and how physical to be with him. Now you can tell he’s back. He’s creating the contact now. He’s doing what he wants to do. He’s looking like himself.”
His coach sees more than just talent in Durant’s recovery.
“I’m feel very excited and happy for Kevin, who’s had the longest layoff and the biggest challenge to overcome a career-threatening injury,” Nash said Sunday via Zoom. “He’s done everything that could’ve been asked and he shows a hunger and a desire of how much he loves the sport and wants to compete, so that’s been fantastic.”
How soon will we see him? It looks increasingly like Sunday’s preseason game vs the Wizards at an empty Barclays Center. Here’s what he said two days ago.
“Talking with the training staff and coaching staff what my load will be in this first preseason game. As far as schemes and how I fit on the offense and defense, I think the coaches are going to use me in a variety of ways. Especially as a small-ball 5, 4, sometimes. Bringing the ball up too so I just got to be ready for anything,”
“Ready for anything.” So are we.
- Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and What to Expect From the Nets - Chris Mannix - Sports Illustrated
- Kevin Durant is back! That’s the song that every Nets player is singing during training camp - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- DeAndre Jordan’s loud Nets voice becoming team’s ‘glue’ - Mollie Walker - New York Post
- State of the Nets: Talking season expectations, roster questions with our experts - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic