Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant has been ruled out of Friday night’s game against Orlando Magic with a right shoulder sprain, the team announced. KD said Sunday that he has been getting treatment on his shooting shoulder but had been playing through the issue. Friday will mark Durant’s first missed game of this season.
Any injury to Durant, however minor, tends to raise concern to Brooklyn as he’s undeniably their MVP. He also missed the 2019-20 campaign as he was recovering from an Achilles injury he suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals – representing Golden State Warriors.
The 33-year-old superstar played just 35 games in 2020-21, which didn’t stop him from averaging 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 45.0 percent from the three-point range. Beyond his overall importance on the court as one of the league’s top players, KD has been the Nets’ best asset and an undeniable MVP.
Durant is second in the NBA so far this season, averaging at 28.6 points per game while also contributing 7.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists per contest and 2.0 three-pointers made per game in 16 contests. With guard Kyrie Irving out of the 2021-2022 season due to his decision to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Durant and James Harden have been particularly prime players to the Nets this season
Even without Irving, KD and Harden led the Nets tied for the top record in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat at 11-5.
Expecting anyone to replicate what the two-time NBA Finals MVP and four-time scoring champion can do on the floor is likely too much for the Nets to ask, but they do have the luxury of leaning on Harden.
The Nets also will be without sharpshooter Joe Harris and power forward Paul Millsap against the Magic. Harris will miss his third game straight with a left ankle sprain, while Millsap is out for his fourth straight game for personal reasons. The Nets will look for him to shoulder even more offensive responsibilities while Bruce Brown and James Johnson see more time in the rotation, especially since Joe Harris, Paul Millsap and Nic Claxton are out as well.