Nets star Kevin Durant has been named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the team announced Monday afternoon.
It is the fourth time Durant has won Player of the Week since making his Nets debut in 2020 and the 30th time he’s claimed the honor in his 15-year career.
Durant helped steady the ship while Nets organization became the subject of a media superstorm in the aftermath of the fallout that led to Kyrie Irving’s minimum five-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. After a disappointing 1-5 start to the season, Durant led the Nets on a 3-1 run. He averaged a conference-best 30.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists in games played between Oct. 31 and Nov. 6, advancing past Vince Carter for 19th place on the NBA’s all-time leading scorer’s list.
On the season, Durant ranks third in scoring (31.5 points per game) behind only Dallas’ Luka Doncic (36 PPG) and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (32.6). Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell ranks fourth (31.4) and Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry ranks fifth (31.0).
Durant is also the new owner of the NBA’s longest-ever streak of scoring 25 or more points to start the season. Allen Iverson held the record before Durant extended his to 10.
Durant missed the entire 2019-20 NBA season after suffering a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in the NBA Finals. He is averaging more points per game in the two-plus seasons after his injury than in the 12 prior seasons.
The Nets ruled star forward Ben Simmons available for Monday’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. Simmons missed the last four games due to swelling in his left knee. He is also returning to action after missing the entire 2021-22 NBA season due to a combination of mental health issues and back troubles that required offseason surgery.
“I don’t want to make that an excuse, but I had a swollen knee. It is what it is, but it’s taken care of now, so I’m glad I’m moving [well],” he told reporters in Dallas at shootaround Monday morning.
Simmons also said his back issues could be responsible for his knee trouble.
“I think overall if you have something you’re doing on your left side, it typically affects your right side,” he said. “I had a lower right back injury so it’s probably a part to it. But as time goes on I need to stay on my strength in terms of left and right knee. And then obviously continue to do the work I’ve been doing on my back.”
Simmons told reporters in Dallas he “feels great” and expects to play 20 minutes against the Mavericks.
After having fluid drained from his knee last week, he expects to have to manage it moving forward.
“I think you know as an athlete your whole body you kind of have to manage, even with my back, something I continue to work on,” Simmons said. “But obviously coming back I know there’s gonna be different quirks and things like that with my body that I have to maintain and stay on top of. It’s been a while since I’ve played, especially this many minutes and back-to-backs and things like that. So just adjusting and staying on top of it.”