Kevin Durant Injury Quiets The Clap Of The Thunder

Kevin Durant Thunder Clap

As in all sports, there are peaks and troughs for professional basketball athletes. The dizzying highs would be difficult to surpass in any other field, but when the lows come there are often millions of eyes watching you fall back down to earth – some of those may not like seeing their idols on a downward spiral, but others certainly have their appetite for failure satiated. That’s the nature of the beast; volatile, unpredictable, but ultimately not something any player would willingly give up.

The 2013/14 season was undoubtedly the greatest in terms of Kevin Durant’s career so far. What he achieved was record-breaking, nipping past Michael Jordan with forty-one consecutive games scoring at least twenty-five points, and scoring thirty or more in twelve straight games. For the fourth time he led the scoring tables in the NBA, and was awarded the honor of Most Valuable Player – the sport’s top gong.

After a season averaging almost 36 points per game, the critics were quick to get on his case when the points didn’t roll in. “Mr Unreliable” some said, maybe prematurely given the season he was coming off. Though he responded well, his Oklahoma City Thunder team didn’t have the gas in the tank in the playoffs. They lost to the eventual champions San Antonio Spurs who topped last year’s rivals, Miami Heat.

He’ll always have the MVP tag to his credit for a phenomenal season, but unlike the greats, it looks unlikely he’ll be able to repeat it. On October 11th Durant was given the bad news that his foot was fractured, therefore sidelining him from the first portion of the season beginning October 28th. Surgery was needed. The prognosis was good for the injury but not for his hopes of being the league’s number-one.

Lebron James is now hot favourite to steal the MVP crown again in 2015 with Durant all the way down at 11/1. The likes of Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry and James Harden all sit higher too, and that is telling. Though William Hill have it at a slightly lower 9/1, it’s still not enough to take him above the pack.

Momentum is key as an athlete, as is staying healthy and on the field of play. A mid-December return seems a long way off when you’re sat on the sidelines and your team is struggling. Thunder have posted a meagre .250 record, winning two and losing six as it stands. Though Nike contracts running into the hundreds of millions can help ease the pain, it is competition that really fulfils the twenty-six year old Washington DC native.

Without Durant at the helm the championship aims of the team will eventually fade. Other injuries are not helping the cause and it’s almost writing its own rumours for Durant’s 2016 free agency. His own performances when fit will dictate whether he’ll move to a club with championship opportunities, but whilst Oklahoma City struggle to get into second gear this season people will talk.

His injury is hitting him in the critics’ ratings. The infamous NBA Rank has seen him slip to number eight instead of the second spot he occupied in September. A hair’s breadth away from the perfect ten originally, he’s now falling. The experts predict that a return from injury will be a slow process, exacerbating his problems moving further into the season.

 

“Michael Jordan missed 64 games his second season to a broken foot,” said ESPN’s Michael Wallace. “He got back to being MJ quickly, but it wasn’t overnight. Expect Durant to follow a similar course.”

Twenty-six year old Durant is slowly but surely on the comeback trail. It was noted by several sources last week that he was out of the walking boot following his surgery, albeit with a limp and some discomfort. Thunder will be desperate for him to return but rushing for short term gains can have a negative impact in the long term. With his contract coming to a close after the next season though, is it a risk they’re willing to take?

Without high hopes and a high finish it’ll be hard to keep a hold on their golden boy. The team will, and are, struggling without him. What they achieve this year may well boil down to when Durant and teammate Russell Westbrook can be back on the court.

“It’s all on the best player in the league not named LeBron to see where this team finishes,” said Tim Harvey, and inside many others are feeling the same. There’s pressure to return, pressure to perform, and pressure to perform consistently. You can’t be the best player in the world without responding well to pressure though, so time will tell whether Durant can prove that once again.

 

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