We are all aware of the unfortunate injuries that Kevin Durant has faced this season. Durant’s year ultimately ended when he opted to have surgery performed on his right foot, which has troubled him throughout the Thunder’s ’14/’15 campaign. The following statement was released during the Thunder’s official announcement of the news.
“Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant underwent successful bone graft surgery today for the fifth metatarsal of his right foot”
– OKC GM Sam Presti.
Despite winning the NBA’s MVP award last season (32 ppg, 50% fg) Durant has managed to appear in just 27 games this season. The stunning thing about Durant’s crippling woes is that his inability to stay healthy has not been an issue in past seasons. In fact, Durant had missed just 14 games before this season, which is an amazing feat considering the grinding nature of the NBA season.
But there are signs that Durant’s famed durability could be unravelling. It began in late 2014, when Durant informed the basketball world he would be sitting out the FIBA World Cup after the Paul George Injury. Whilst the above quote from Sam Presti should be cause for optimism when concerning Durant, there is reason to be pessimistic.
It’s been a bizarre season for the reigning MVP, who has suffered several injuries, ranging from a toe complication, to a gimpy ankle and now a fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his foot. It’s a story that has been repeated all too often. Derrick Rose, Brandon Roy, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming.
Careers cut short in their primes.
The NBA is at its best when the best of the best are healthy and waging war on the court. Durant’s misfortunes this season have crippled any hope of the Thunder pushing the Warriors in the first round (if they make it). Whilst Russell Westbrook is a nightly threat to amass yet another triple double, his usage rate (38%) coupled with his boneheaded turnover’s (4.4 per game), mean the Thunder are a fringe playoff team at best when Durant is not healthy.
The positive thing to come out of Durant’s troubles this season is that when he could get on the court, he was still Kevin Durant. Over 27 games he averaged 25.4 points per game and converted on 51% of his field goals. Yet perhaps Durant’s elite production in the face of adversity is also one of the most upsetting developments to come out of this season; he still has it, but he can’t get healthy.
The NBA world will be anxiously awaiting the return of Durant next season. Optimism is ever present, but his career is at the crossroads. It could go in two directions, this forgettable season could merely be an outlier in an illustrious career; or it could follow a route that has eventuated for too many far too often.
Let’s hope it’s the first direction.