An Achilles injury is no longer a death sentence in professional sports. It used to be in a category of it's own, the career-ending variety, but now, it appears you can lump it in with the devastating, but ultimately surmountable, injuries like a torn ACL or major muscle tear. In fact, an Achilles injury might not even be a season killer anymore.
Kevin Durant appeared destined to miss his first season as a member of the Brooklyn Nets after rupturing his Achilles tendon in June during a playoff game while a member of the Golden State Warriors. Now, there are whispers he could actually suit up for his new team this year, according to the New York Post's Brian Lewis:
"Though Nets GM Sean Marks refused to rule Durant out for the season, the feeling within the league is trending toward him potentially playing this season."
Lewis noted that there is precedent for Durant being healthy enough to play at the tail end of the season. Kobe Bryant needed eight months to recover from his Achilles injury in 2013. Bryant was 34 years old when he suffered that injury. Durant is only 30, so his body might be even better suited to recovery, though Bryant's relatively speedy recovery might have been aided by his legendary tenacity and focus.
Durant appears to be on track for a full recovery, having offered glimpses into his recovery process on Instagram.
Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie told Lewis that Durant is "taking the rehab process ultra-serious." He also said there's a chance for the Nets to have a "very, very special season."
Even if Durant is healthy enough to play by the end of the upcoming season, whether or not he actually steps on a court will likely depend on how the Nets are doing at that point. In addition to Durant, Brooklyn added Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan to the roster, though it did see D'Angelo Russell depart to Golden State. Irving, Jordan and company should be enough to help the Nets compete for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
If they are locked in, Durant could help them along to a surprise run in the postseason. If it falls apart this season, expect Durant to remain sidelined.
Brandon Knight in Cleveland
It's likely going to be a tough season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The young team is in full rebuild mode and not in a position to contend even in the relatively weak Eastern Conference. FiveThirtyEight gives them a less than one percent chance of making the playoffs, the lowest mark in the league.
There are a handful of veterans on the team who will be there to help guide the young squad forward, including Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Brandon Knight.
The latter is an interesting case, as he was acquired by the Cavaliers via trade last season and played 27 games for the team, averaging 8.5 points and 2.3 assists per game. His numbers were less than stellar, and at 27 years old, there are questions about how he fits into a team that is looking to develop younger players.
According to Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor, Knight could be a source of optimism this season if he can stay healthy:
"According to sources, Knight looked "really good" during Cleveland’s pre-camp workouts in New York recently. He was one of the players singled out. Most likely, his greatest impact will come as a valuable mentor to the young backcourt duo—or as a potential trade piece at the deadline because of his expiring contract."
The young duo mentioned by Fedor refers to Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Sexton is entering his second year in the league, while Garland was the No. 5 pick in the 2019 draft coming out of Vanderbilt.
Knight appears to be destined for a backup role, though he may start if Garland or Sexton look overwhelmed at times.