Kevin Durant stepped onto the basketball court for the first time in 18 months earlier this week, taking the floor to play in the two Brooklyn Nets' preseason games. He tore his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He is finally back. And for those who worried, you can stop doing so: Durant looks pretty much like the same Durant that struck fear into the hearts of many a defender for the past decade.
Medical science has advanced significantly and all that jazz, but an Achilles tear is nothing to sneeze at for a basketball player. It has robbed more than one player of enough explosiveness and mobility to derail an entire career. Love him or hate him, anyone who appreciates basketball as an art form wanted Durant to return to something resembling the world destroyer he was with the Golden State Warriors. Few players make the game look as effortless as Durant when he's feeling it.
Thus, it comes as a great relief that early returns show us Durant looking just as smooth out there as we remember.
He doesn't look quite as explosive as he did pre-injury, but that is no surprise and no reason to worry. These are his first two games since Kawhi Leonard was a Raptor and Anthony Davis an unwilling member of the Pelicans, after all. It'll take a bit to get back to full form.
Even if the injury sapped a bit of his ability to blow by people, that was never the backbone of his game. Being seven feet tall with the handles of an elite point guard and the ability to shoot over literally everybody will create more than enough space. His shooting touch certainly isn't going to leave him because a tendon gave out.
The blocked three on Semi Ojeyele followed by a pull-up three in transition with a guard in his space was classic Durant. It was awesome. It'll still take a bit for Durant to be Kevin Durant again, but so far, so good.