Kevin Durant admits he had spent the last year envisioning his return to the court as he made his eagerly-anticipated debut for the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
The two-time NBA champion and 10-time All-Star finished five of 12 shooting from the field with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes as the Nets beat the Washington Wizards 119-114 in their preseason opener.
It marked the 32-year-old’s first game back since injuring his Achilles tendon with the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
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“I was anxious, nervous,” he said post-game. “I visualised this moment for so long, you know? Nine, 10 months just thinking about how it would be this next phase of my career. So, I felt like I was just chomping at the bit.
“Especially once Covid hit, I was just so frustrated because I didn’t see an end. I mean, I didn’t see the future, where the season was going to start in the future, so I was just so, I was going through it. So to go through this felt solid, and I’ve just got to keep building on it.”
Durant has career regular-season averages of 27 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, and had been considered among the league’s most potent forces prior to his injury.
Besides making his comeback, Durant also granted the Nets a first sighting of him alongside fellow serial All-Star Kyrie Irving, who put up 18 points in 18 first-half minutes having also been limited by injury in 2019-20.
“I don’t think I played great,” added Durant. “I felt like I had some solid moments, but for the most part, just getting my feet wet. Playing against somebody like (Rui) Hachimura, I took that charge early and I’m definitely feeling it right now.
“So it’s good to get back in the flow of things and definitely give me some confidence. Well, I feel like I always had confidence, I just needed to see how I’ll play a real NBA game with refs, it’s different when you got refs out there. So it’s a good step like I said, and I’m trying to build on it.”
Newly-appointed Nets head coach Steve Nash admitted earlier this offseason that he may have to be cautious when it comes to re-introducing Durant.
As for the star forward himself, he is eager to test himself from the off as he looks to rediscover his pre-injury form.
“I feel I got to play against the best players in the league, simply put,” he continued. “I mean the top players at my position, I want to see how I fair against them and switch on on the best point guard in the league.
“And so it’s just a matter of going through the season and seeing how I fare up against the best players, the best defenses in the league. I feel confident about myself.”
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