Devin Cannady, the Long Island Nets guard, went out to L.A. back in July to get some reps and in a stroke of luck, found himself in workouts with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Not bad. And yes, he told Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, KD looked good ... extremely good in fact.
“I can confirm what all those guys said,” Cannady said. “He’s one of the most talented, special players I’ve ever seen in person. He looks healthy. He looks extremely good.”
Cannady is the latest player to suggest that Durant is likely coming back looking like he did before he blew out his Achilles 15 months ago in the NBA Finals.
So, let’s start from the beginning: how did Cannady wind up on the same court with KD and Kyrie ... in southern California?
“Through the grace of God,” Cannady said. “I was basically plucked out of the sky.”
Specifically, Cannady said he was getting a tour of The Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, formerly known as the Mamba Sports Academy, when his guide asked who he played for.
“The Long Island Nets,” Cannady replied. “They’re affiliated with Brooklyn.”
“That’s so funny,” the employee said. “One of their coaches is here.”
Indeed, while most of the Nets assistant coaches were in the bubble, Adam Harrington, the Nets director of player development, was in L.A. at the Sports Academy. And so were the Nets two superstars and a number of other players: former Knick (and serious F.O.K.) Allonzo Trier, the Pistons’ Blake Griffin and his Long Island teammate and UCLA product Jaylen Hands.
So, he joined in and got to know Durant and Irving.
Cannady told Schiffer that workouts with Durant ranged from light shooting sessions to games of one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three. Before COVID hit —and KD tested positive— he had participated in drills up to five-on-five’s in Brooklyn against the so-called “extra work crew” of Nets bench players.
Sean Marks said Durant “looked like Kevin Durant” when he observed him. Chris Chiozza who was part of the “extra work crew” described KD this way, also to Schiffer, “I don’t know. If he gets better than what he is right now, it is going to be a long season next year for whoever is guarding him.”
Cannady, who graduated from Princeton in May, said he treated his sessions like classes, peppering them with questions. He admits he was a bit wowed by the experience, but that his two fellow employees of Joe Tsai’s BSE Global treated him well.
As Schiffer wrote...
One of the game’s greatest scorers wanted Cannady in attack-mode. Durant didn’t care if Cannady was being guarded by Irving, Griffin or Hands; if he looked to pass before fully evaluating the defense, Durant’s ensuing shout would carry across the gym.
“Go at him!” Cannady said Durant would tell him.
And when Cannady passed up a shot to find Durant, KD told him don’t do that again.
“You’re playing with one of the greatest players of all time and you’re probably like, ‘Man, I don’t know, should I do too much?’” Cannady said. “And he’s like, ‘Go.’ And from there I started having more confidence.
“If KD is going to tell me to go, there won’t be another time when I’m on the basketball court and not looking to kill. You can’t get much more praise than that.”
Cannady told Schiffer he didn’t get as much time on the court with Irving, in part because of Irving’s involvement in social justice initiatives. But he also received encouragement from the Nets guard.
“Look man, I’m trying to stop you and I can’t,” Cannady told Irving. “How is it that you have the ball so loose on a string and tight at the same time? How can I have more mobility with my dribble so it’s not so tight? As a shooter, how can I use my dribble to set me up?”
Irving gave Cannady some helpful hints ... and a number of drills to do, ones that Irving regularly does himself. Cannady has done those daily since, wrote Schiffer.
“I’m not going to reveal the tricks and secrets he gave me because it has helped me,” he said.
The two guards spoke as well about something else they share, experience with shoulder injuries and rehab techniques. Cannady was able to avoid surgery, unlike Irving.
Cannady would like to get another shot at the Nets. He was in training camp last October.
“I would love to hop back in,” he told Schiffer. “I’m getting to learn from two of the greatest players in basketball history.”