Kevin Durant is pointing out the obvious – The Denver Post


Kevin Durant is merely stating the obvious.

After the Nets gave up a franchise regulation record 153 points in their 32-point loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, Brooklyn’s star forward said the starting lineup as currently constructed shouldn’t be expected to win very many games.

For the record, All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is expected to miss his eighth straight game suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team” and All-Star forward Ben Simmons has been coming off the bench as he rehabs both his lower back after offseason surgery and a left knee that’s had swelling issues.

“Look at our starting lineup: Edmond Sumner, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, [Nic] Claxton and me. It’s not disrespect, but what are you expecting from that group?,” Durant said in an interview with Bleacher Report. “So if you’re watching from that lens, you’re expecting us to play well because No. 7 is out there.”

Truer words haven’t been spoken.

Irving’s absence and Simmons’ lack of offensive punch has been glaring through the first 15 games of the Nets’ season.

Irving was averaging 27 points, five rebounds and five assists per game before the Nets deemed him “unfit to be associated with the” organization for “failure to disavow antisemitism” after his controversial post on social media received widespread backlash. The Nets have missed that production, and quite frankly, they have yet to receive quality minutes from Simmons — outside of his 20 minutes against the Kings.

It’s all fallen on Durant, who has scored 25 or more points every game this season and has cracked the Top-19 on the NBA’s all-time leading scorer’s list, but has done so without viable, consistent offensive support.

In a separate interview on the same day, Durant told Andscape the Nets have to “just keep encouraging” Simmons, who played in the preseason opener for the first time in 470 days after missing the entire 2021-2022 NBA season, then undergoing a microdiscectomy on his lower back during the summer. Simmons scored 11 points and flashed more athleticism Tuesday night against the Kings than he’s shown all season.

“Just keep encouraging. More than anything, that comes from within. Internally figure that out,” he said of Simmons. “And we can encourage and be there for him as much as we can, but it’s all about the individual and I think he wants it.

“So, you’ve got to be patient, but also know that there’s some sense of urgency as well. So, it’s a balance you got to have with him. But most of the time, most of it’s going to come internally.”

While Durant discussed the team’s lacking roster, he did co-sign Jacque Vaughn, who replaced Steve Nash as the Nets’ full-time head coach on Nov. 9.

The Nets won four out of their first six games and claimed the title of NBA’s best defense holding five straight teams below 100 points under Vaughn before the wheels fell off in their last two.

Durant said the Nets didn’t practice simple drills — like shell defense or closing out on shooters — nor did they hold each other accountable enough during film sessions under Nash.

“I wasn’t feeling that, and nobody was on that same vibe with me. Jacque Vaughn is,” Durant told Bleacher Report. “I had some complaints in the summer, and my complaints were not about just me; it was about how we are moving as a unit. I want us to be respected out here in the basketball world.

“I don’t want players to look at us and say, ‘Oh man, these [expletive] are full of s—t. That’s not the type of team I want to be on.’ So when we’re all playing like s—t, you know the one person they’re going to look at. That’s why I requested a trade.”

Durant’s words are a dose of reality for a Nets team that overachieved by winning four games in a six-game stretch. His criticism of the starting lineup isn’t scorching earth.

It’s a cry for help from a superstar forward trying to win a championship in Brooklyn without the requisite firepower offensively to do so, and it’s on the Nets front office to ensure Durant has the weapons around him to maximize the franchise’s dwindling championship window.



Source link