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Kevin Durant and the Nets will complete the first third of their 72-game schedule on Friday against Toronto, and the former NBA MVP’s injury comeback could not be going better in Brooklyn.
After missing all of last season following 2019 Achilles surgery, Durant is averaging the third-most points per game (30.8) of his career. The league also announced Thursday that he has garnered the most votes for the All-Star game among all players in the first set of balloting results.
With more than 2.3 million already, the 10-time All-Star is narrowly ahead of Lakers star LeBron James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry league-wide and comfortably ahead of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (1.75 million) for the most among Eastern Conference forwards.
Durant told Mike Krzyzewski and Dave Sims on the Duke coach’s radio show Thursday that he has used what Coach K told him while playing for Team USA — winning two Olympic gold medals together in 2012 and 2016 — about the importance of checking egos to apply it to teaming with fellow Big 3 stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden this season.
Kevin DurantNBAE via Getty Images
“I remember those conversations you would have with us and telling us, ‘You guys have egos and it’s good to have egos.
But at certain moments, certain guys are going to shine more than others.’ And that always stood out to me,” Durant said on SiriusXM’s “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” show. “When you give a player that accomplished so much and experienced so much and you put them on one NBA team — I dealt with that with the Warriors, as well — where it’s like we can be too unselfish to the point that it’ll hurt the team.
“Coach [Steve Nash] will figure out what times, when you’re going to use guys, what plays to run and all that stuff. But we need everybody to be themselves. Early on, James was passing too much, I felt like, and then he started to be aggressive to score. Then Kyrie, the same way. And now we’re starting to feed off each other.”
The Nets carry a 14-9 record into Friday’s game against Toronto (9-12), with a key game to follow the next night against East-leading Philadelphia. They are leading the NBA in scoring (122.3 points per game) and shooting a league-best 50.3 percent from the field as a team. Only two teams in the past decade connected on at least 50 percent of their attempts for a full season: Miami in 2013-14 and Durant’s Warriors in 2017-18.
The four-time scoring champ is averaging 30.8 points — second to Washington’s Bradley Beal (34.8 ppg) — through 17 appearances.
Durant’s 36.9 minutes per game also rank second in the league behind Harden (38.4).
Irving and Harden are second and third behind Beal among guards in the East in All-Star voting.
“It’s incredible having high-IQ guys out there with you every night that have been through every situation in the league team-wise and individual-wise,” Durant said. “It makes every single day, with less practice time, less shoot-around time, it makes it easier to go through and correct yourself throughout the games.
“We hold each other accountable each time we see something. So having that relationship and playing with each other over the years and, you know, sharing the same experiences, it made it easier for us to come together and transition.”