Kevin Durant Says He Believes Nets' Season Was 'Derailed' by His Knee Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 4, 2022

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 2: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the game against the Atlanta Hawks on April 2, 2022 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Kevin Durant told reporters Monday that he believes his knee injury earlier this season, along with Kyrie Irving's inability to play in home games for most of the season because he refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine, has played the biggest part in the team's disappointing 40-38 record. 

Ian Begley @IanBegley

Kevin Durant: “To be honest, I feel like our season was de-railed by my injury … when we’re all on the floor together, I like what we got.” <a href="https://t.co/ptYeyhaD18">pic.twitter.com/ptYeyhaD18</a>

"To be honest, I feel like our season was derailed by my injury," he said. "I'm not looking at it as we're just not a good basketball team. [There wasn't] continuity with me and Kyrie out of the lineup. That's just what it is. When we're all on the floor together, I like what we've got."

Durant, 33, has played in 51 games this year. Irving has appeared in only 25. The Nets are just 7-6 in the games they've played together, though they're outscoring opponents by 9.7 points per 100 possessions with that two-man lineup on the floor, per NBA.com.

It's been a strange season in Brooklyn even aside from the Irving drama or Durant's long absence. James Harden appeared to check out after Durant's injury and eventually got traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets also languished over the winter, going 9-24 at one point between late December and early March. 

Much of that malaise coincided with Durant's injury, including an 11-game losing streak between late January and mid-February.  

Ben Simmons—the headliner in the Harden trade on Brooklyn's end—has yet to play since joining the Nets because of a back injury. On Monday, head coach Steve Nash told reporters that the power forward would be out through the play-in tournament. 

Alex Schiffer @Alex__Schiffer

Ben Simmons did more at practice today, but is still far from playing. Nash ruled him out for the rest of the regular season and the play-in.

Despite all of that, the Nets still feel like a true title contender in large part due to the brilliance of KD and Irving. In the past month alone, Durant has three 40-point games and two 50-point outbursts, while Irving has gone for 50 points twice and 60 points once. The Nets are 4-1 in those games. 

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

It's Durant's third 50-point game of the season. That breaks a tie with four players, including LeBron James this season, for the most 50-point games in a season by a player at age 33 or older. <a href="https://t.co/mr4MxtrHRV">pic.twitter.com/mr4MxtrHRV</a>

The Nets are going to have to go through the play-in tournament before they can even start worrying about competing for a championship. But Durant doesn't seem particularly worried about any of that. 

"I don't care who we play in the play-in," he told reporters Monday. "Just tip it up.”